- The Washington Times - Thursday, April 13, 2006

McCain’s warning

Sen. John McCain, Arizona Republican, yesterday reached out to conservatives and warned that the midterm elections will be difficult for the Republican Party.

“We Republicans are going to have a tough race in 2006 because the country is not happy with us,” Mr. McCain said yesterday in Cedar Rapids, Iowa. “We have a 25 percent approval rating in Congress.”

Mr. McCain, who is widely expected to be a presidential candidate, who skipped Iowa in his 2000 bid for the White House, campaigned for Republican candidates and met privately to court conservatives who are critical to another pursuit of the Republican nomination, the Associated Press reports.

During his Iowa appearances, Mr. McCain refused to change his stand on issues that could cost him Republican votes, including his opposition to ethanol subsidies and a constitutional amendment banning homosexual “marriage.”

Mr. McCain complained that Republicans, who control Congress and the White House, are in danger of alienating even their base because they can’t rein in spending, which he said is out of control.

“Many of our Republican supporters are not happy because we are spending money like a drunken sailor,” the former Navy man said. “We risk not our base voting Democratic,” but the Republican base becoming disillusioned and “staying home.”

‘Minority maker

“If Republicans lose control of Congress in November, they might want to look back at [April 6] as the day it was lost. That’s when the big spenders among House Republicans blew up a deal between the leadership and rank-in-file to impose some modest spending discipline,” according to the Wall Street Journal.

“Unlike the collapse of the immigration bill, this fiasco can’t be blamed on Senate Democrats. This one is all about Republicans and their refusal to give up their power to spend money at will and pass out ‘earmarks’ like a bartender offering drinks on the house. The chief culprits are the House Appropriators, led by committee Chairman Jerry Lewis of California and his 13 subcommittee chairmen known as ‘cardinals.’ If Republicans lose the House — and they are well on their way — Mr. Lewis deserves the moniker of the minority maker,” the newspaper said in an editorial.

“For weeks, the Republican Study Committee, a group of fiscally conservative members, had been negotiating a spending outline with the House leadership. But when they finally struck a deal last week, Mr. Lewis refused to go along and threatened to defeat the budget on the House floor if Speaker Denny Hastert brought it up. With Democrats opposing the budget as a matter of party unity, GOP leaders gave up and left town for Easter recess without a vote on their budget blueprint for 2007.”

Farewell Card

For more than five years, White House Chief of Staff Andrew H. Card Jr. has been the first senior staffer to greet President Bush upon his arrival at the Oval Office in the morning.

But about 160 staffers turned the tables on “The Chief,” as he is called, getting into position at 5:30 a.m. yesterday in order to greet Mr. Card when he got to work at about 6 a.m.

It was a brainstorm of some junior staffers as a way to say goodbye to Mr. Card, who closes out his White House career today. Staffers from all ranks turned out, from senior presidential assistants to custodians, Reuters news agency reports.

Joshua B. Bolten, the former director of the Office of Management and Budget who takes over as chief of staff from Mr. Card, was among the group.

Mr. Card was ending a lengthy run as White House chief of staff, a job he held since Mr. Bush first took office in January 2001. Only Sherman Adams of Dwight Eisenhower’s presidency has served longer in the position.

When Mr. Card stepped out of his vehicle, he was handed an Egg McMuffin, a reminder of his employment during his college years at a McDonald’s in South Carolina.

Mr. Bush himself said his farewell to Mr. Card in the Oval Office in the afternoon, before boarding Marine One with his wife, Laura, and father, former President George Bush, to spend the Easter weekend at Camp David.

“I think it’s really hard to fully express the high regard with which the White House staff holds Andy,” said White House spokesman Scott McClellan.

Math problem

A Washington state college distributed a math practice test that had a hypothetical question involving a watermelon and the name of the Bush administration’s top black official, prompting charges of racism, the Seattle Times reports.

The sample test at Bellevue Community College (BCC) read: “Condoleezza holds a watermelon just over the edge of the roof of the 300-foot Federal Building, and tosses it up with a velocity of 20 feet per second.” The question then provided the needed velocity formula and asked how long it would take the watermelon to hit the ground.

Although the question does not mention Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, the Rev. Wayne Perryman told the Seattle paper that the reference was obvious. “How many Condoleezzas spell their name that way and how many Condoleezzas are associated with a federal building? It doesn’t take much to connect the dotted lines,” he said.

The college declined to name the teacher who wrote the question, which the math department chairman agreed to pull. BCC President B. Jean Floten said the teacher has apologized and requested cultural-sensitivity training.

Kennedy hammered

Rep. Patrick J. Kennedy, Rhode Island Democrat, was hit in the face with a hammer when an entrepreneur, demonstrating shock absorption, accidentally sent the hammer’s head flying at Mr. Kennedy’s mouth.

Mr. Kennedy received six stitches in his bottom lip after the incident Wednesday at an economic-development meeting in Pawtucket, R.I., said his spokeswoman Robin Costello.

The entrepreneur, Matt Kriesel of Wisconsin, produces a shock-absorbing gel used in sports-shoe inserts, tennis rackets and horse saddles. He was hitting some gel with a hammer to demonstrate how it reduces vibration, and the hammer’s head flew off, the Associated Press reports.

“The congressman is a class act; he didn’t make a fuss,” said Michael McMahon, the executive director of the Rhode Island Economic Development Corporation who attended the meeting.

Another challenger

Pennsylvania Gov. Edward G. Rendell, a Democrat, and his likely Republican challenger, former football star Lynn Swann, got an independent challenger yesterday for November’s gubernatorial election.

Russ Diamond, who created PACleanSweep to try to oust legislators over their botched attempt to raise their own salaries, disclosed his candidacy in an interview with the New York Times and then announced it in a statement yesterday, the Associated Press reports.

He must collect signatures from 67,070 registered voters by Aug. 1 to enter the race.

Mr. Diamond said his platform includes calls to put limits on lawmakers, repeal a 2004 law that legalized slot-machine gambling and reduce property taxes.

Greg Pierce can be reached at 202/636-3285 or gpierce@washingtontimes.com.

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