- The Washington Times - Monday, April 17, 2006

Gingrich’s warning

The Republican Party is at risk of losing political ground in the November elections if it does not enact reforms that eliminate waste and hold the federal bureaucracy to higher standards, former House Speaker Newt Gingrich said yesterday.

“I think they’re in very serious danger of having a very bad election this fall,” Mr. Gingrich said on “Fox News Sunday.”

“You have to respect the right of the American people to say they want change,” he said, criticizing the federal government’s performance after Hurricane Katrina and the Republican-led Congress’ failure to enact immigration reforms.

“Are they going to learn some lessons and get their act together?” Mr. Gingrich asked.

The former representative from Georgia said the “debacle” over measures to strengthen U.S. borders and create a path to citizenship for illegal immigrants “was one more piece of the puzzle” for many voters who have lost faith in Republican leadership, Reuters news agency reports.

“The country absolutely wants control of the borders,” Mr. Gingrich said. “The country absolutely wants us to insist that becoming an American citizen requires that you passed a test in English.”

Wait till next year

Three potential presidential candidates — Republican Sen. George Allen of Virginia, Democratic New Mexico Gov. Bill Richardson and Democratic Sen. Christopher J. Dodd of Connecticut — shied away from stating any presidential aspirations on yesterday’s TV talk shows.

All contended that they were intent on winning re-election, not gaining the nomination for president in 2008, the Associated Press reports.

Mr. Allen: “My father was the football coach of the Redskins here, and one of his famous exhortations was, ‘The future is now.’ I’m paying attention to the present. When you get to the future, I’ll make decisions then.”

Mr. Richardson: “I’m going to give you the same answer Senator Allen did, and that is that I want to get re-elected. I’m running for re-election.”

Mr. Dodd: “I’m focusing on Connecticut. We’re a long way away from the nomination process.”

Mr. Allen and Mr. Richardson appeared on CBS’ “Face the Nation,” and Mr. Dodd was a guest on “Fox News Sunday.”

Falwell and Giuliani

The Rev. Jerry Falwell doesn’t see any Democrat making inroads with evangelical Christian voters in the next presidential election. Potential Republican candidate Rudolph W. Giuliani, the former New York City mayor, won’t be scoring any points with Mr. Falwell, either.

“Everybody admires him. And I’ll never forget the great things he did on 9/11 and following,” Mr. Falwell said.

“But, of course … as conservative Christians who take the Bible seriously, we have probably irreconcilable differences on life and family and that kind of thing,” Mr. Falwell said yesterday on CNN’s “Late Edition.”

“I’ll never speak an ill word about him because he means so much to America. But, yes, you’re right. I couldn’t support him for president,” he said.

Mr. Giuliani is pro-choice on abortion and favors homosexual rights and gun control.

Differences between another 2008 contender — Sen. John McCain, Arizona Republican — and Mr. Falwell, the Baptist minister who founded the conservative Moral Majority, were bridged recently when Mr. Falwell asked to meet with Mr. McCain.

They discussed the bitter 2000 Republican nomination campaign, during which the senator labeled Mr. Falwell an “agent of intolerance” and Mr. Falwell sided with Mr. McCain’s chief rival, George W. Bush.

“By five minutes in, we’d gotten all the old stuff behind us and the air all cleared,” Mr. Falwell said. “And, you know, John McCain is a strong conservative. He’s pro-life. He’s strong national defense. He’s a national hero. His view on family is just where most conservative Christians’ views are. It’s just that we had another champion back then.”

Not that Mr. Falwell is endorsing Mr. McCain — yet.

“It’s far too early to endorse anybody,” he said. “There’s a lot of other good guys out there.”

Dead on arrival

“Bush’s proposals are encountering more trouble in Congress these days, but this one is downright radioactive,” Kevin Whitelaw writes in the Washington Whispers column of U.S. News & World Report.

“Earlier this month, his Energy Department sent Congress a bill to expand storage at the long-delayed nuclear-waste dump inside Nevada’s Yucca Mountain and spark investment in nuclear energy. Senate Democratic leader Harry Reid of Nevada quickly called the bill dead on arrival — and he appears to have successfully scared off even traditional nuclear boosters like fellow Democrat Jeff Bingaman of New Mexico,” Mr. Whitelaw said.

“‘Even Democrats who are generally supportive of Yucca Mountain … are not interested in annoying him,’ says a top Democratic aide. Energy prices might be spiking, but don’t expect any action in an election year.”

At the ranch

The Rev. Joseph Lowery yesterday urged war protesters camping near President Bush’s ranch in Crawford, Texas, to keep working for peace.

Mr. Lowery, 84, who co-founded the Southern Christian Leadership Conference with Martin Luther King, spoke at a sunrise interfaith Easter Sunday service outside the Bush ranch.

Mr. Lowery said after the service that he sees many parallels between the civil rights movement and the peace movement, so he decided to miss a traditional Easter church service for the first time, the Associated Press reports.

“Being out here in nature with people struggling for peace and justice, in the shadow of the president’s ranch, what better place could there be to celebrate Easter?” he said. “Hope is alive in this place.”

Mr. Lowery spoke on the last day of the group’s third protest in less than a year near Mr. Bush’s ranch. Mr. Bush spent the holiday at Camp David, his first Easter away from the ranch since he was elected.

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

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