- The Washington Times - Monday, November 27, 2006

Sen. Sam Brownback of Kansas strongly hinted yesterday that he would run for president in 2008, saying the Republican field was open for a “full-scale conservative” and that he would make an official announcement soon.

During an appearance on ABC’s “This Week,” the Republican outlined what he called a “compassionate conservative” agenda, including a willingness to open diplomatic ties with Iran and Syria.

“I think there is room, on the Republican side, for somebody that’s a full-scale conservative, that’s an economic and fiscal and social conservative,” Mr. Brownback said. “I think there’s room on our side, and need on our side, to develop some new plays, particularly on the compassionate conservative agenda. So we’ll be making some announcements, soon, about that.”

Moderator George Stephanopoulos joked that Mr. Brownback already seemed intent on running.

“Well, I can tell from that smile that ‘you’re in,’ ” Mr. Stephanopoulos said. “That’s not very coy at all.”

Mr. Brownback replied: “We’ll see.”

While declining to endorse a timetable for withdrawal, Mr. Brownback implied that Republican electoral hopes will hinge on a substantial change of fortunes in Iraq in the next two years. He added that Iran and Syria, two nations listed as supporters of terrorism by the United States, should be included in the process.

“We cannot face the public again in 2008 with the current situation still in hand for the United States,” he said. “We may have had problems or difficulties on issues in the past, but we’ve got to start dealing with the new realities that are here on the ground and bring everybody, including, if we can, the Iranians and Syrians, together in some sort of discussion how we deal with all of these issues in a political, a political framework.”

In contrast to other Republicans seeking to cultivate the conservative base for a 2008 run, Mr. Brownback attempted a more bipartisan tone while stressing his support for conservative judges such as Supreme Court Justice Samuel A. Alito Jr.

Mr. Brownback also announced that he and Sen. Barack Obama, Illinois Democrat, plan to attend a conference by well-known pastor Rick Warren. Mr. Obama also is considering a 2008 presidential campaign.

“That brings together the left and the right to discuss issues of poverty in Africa and global health care issues,” Mr. Brownback said. “One of the things I’m going to do is to take an AIDS test to show to people that we should be doing that particularly, if you’re in particular areas that may have had the exposure.”

In addition to taking an AIDS test, Mr. Brownback also plans to spend a night in jail to highlight what he calls a need for prison reform.

“This is an issue that I’ve dealt with for some period of time. Right now in America, if you go to prison, two-thirds of the individuals that go in once will be in a second or more times,” he said. “We really need to reduce that recidivism rate, so I’ve been trying to highlight alternatives, particularly faith-based prisons that have got that recidivism rate down below 10 percent.”