- The Washington Times - Tuesday, September 5, 2006

About even

A ballot measure that would scrap many of Michigan’s racial preference programs is running about even in a poll released yesterday, with 41 percent of likely voters saying they would approve it and 43 percent opposed.

Sixteen percent had yet to decide how they would vote on the Nov. 7 ballot proposal, called the Michigan Civil Rights Initiative.

Michigan took a prominent role in the national debate over racial preferences in 2003, when the U.S. Supreme Court upheld a general policy of racial preferences in admissions at the University of Michigan Law School but struck down the university’s undergraduate racial preferences formula as too rigid because it awarded points based on race.

One of the plaintiffs in the undergraduate admissions lawsuit was Jennifer Gratz, who now serves as executive director of the Michigan Civil Rights Initiative, the Associated Press reports.

The ballot proposal, if approved, would amend the state constitution to ban affirmative action programs that give preferential treatment for public employment, education or contracts based on race, sex, color, ethnicity or national origin.

Favorite target

Two Democrats in New Hampshire lining up support for potential presidential runs took aim at Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld yesterday.

Former Sen. John Edwards of North Carolina said Mr. Rumsfeld should resign as a way to own up to his failures in Iraq.

A speech last week in which Mr. Rumsfeld likened critics of the Bush administration’s war strategy to those who tried to appease the Nazis in the 1930s prompted many Democrats to call for his resignation and boosted support for a congressional resolution expressing no confidence in him, the Associated Press said. Mr. Rumsfeld later said that his remarks were misrepresented and that he was cautioning against a repeat of errors made in the past, not accusing the administration’s critics of trying to appease the terrorists.

“I think Donald Rumsfeld needs to be gone for reasons much more important than anything he said in a speech,” Mr. Edwards said after attending a Labor Day breakfast in Bedford. “He has been one of the architects of this mess in Iraq, and he takes absolutely no responsibility for any of the mistakes has made.”

Also yesterday, while marching in a Labor Day parade in Milford, Sen. Joseph R. Biden Jr. of Delaware said he thinks there is little chance of winning the war in Iraq. He defined victory as leaving behind a stable country that has secure borders and is no longer a haven for terrorists.

He said that even Mr. Rumsfeld has concluded that his comments about war critics and World War II were “over the top.”

“The most significant comparison with World War II is that we soon will have been in Iraq as long as World War II, with much less success,” Mr. Biden said.

About-face

Bill Ritter, the Democratic candidate for governor of Colorado, said Friday that he would support changing the state’s definition of marriage — then backed off the statement the next day, the Denver Post reports.

“The statute says marriage is between a man and a woman,” Mr. Ritter told the Denver Post’s editorial board. “You know, if a bill came to my desk to change that statute, though, I would sign it — that changes the definition of it.”

When asked whether the definition should include “marriage” between two men, Mr. Ritter said he didn’t want to answer a hypothetical question.

“It depends on what the bill says,” he said. “I would entertain changing it, is what I’m saying.”

Referring to his Republican opponent, Rep. Bob Beauprez, Mr. Ritter said: “I’m just in a different place on this issue than the congressman is.”

On Saturday, however, Mr. Ritter clarified his position, saying he would keep the definition of marriage as between a man and a woman but consider adding recognition of civil unions to the statute.

The Beauprez campaign called Mr. Ritter’s position inconsistent with his previous comments and incompatible with the beliefs of most Colorado voters.

Raising cash

President Bush will travel to Clarkston, Mich., on Friday to raise money for Republican Senate candidate Mike Bouchard in his race against Democratic Sen. Debbie Stabenow.

Mr. Bush will attend a luncheon fundraiser that will give the Oakland County sheriff a large infusion of campaign dollars. Similar events by the president have netted candidates about $1 million.

Mrs. Stabenow has led Mr. Bouchard in polling and fundraising, but Republicans contend the race could tighten in the weeks ahead because of voter unrest and Michigan’s struggling economy, the Associated Press reports.

The Bush luncheon will be held at the home of developer David Johnson.

Neck-and-neck

A poll shows Sen. Jim Talent, Missouri Republican, and Democratic challenger Claire McCaskill are about even in their race for the U.S. Senate.

The latest Research 2000 poll, released Sunday and conducted for the St. Louis Post-Dispatch and KMOV-TV, showed 47 percent backed Mrs. McCaskill and 46 percent supported Mr. Talent. Two percent supported Libertarian Frank Gilmour.

Green Party candidate Lydia Lewis, who was just added to the November ballot, had no measurable support among those polled, the Post-Dispatch reported Sunday.

The firm polled 800 likely voters Aug. 28 through Thursday. The margin of error was 3.5 percentage points.

The firm’s previous poll, released in June, showed Mrs. McCaskill with a lead of six percentage points. A USA Today/Gallup poll released Friday showed Mr. Talent favored by 50 percent of likely voters, compared with 44 percent for Mrs. McCaskill.

Limbaugh, too

“Plans for the opening week of ‘CBS Evening News with Katie Couric‘ have surpassed network executives’ wildest dream: Presidents Bush and Clinton, radio king Rush Limbaugh and broadcast legend Walter Cronkite have all agreed to appear,” Matt Drudge writes at www.drudgereport.com, citing “a CBS insider.”

“A top network source says scheduling of ‘guest editorials’ are still in flux,” Mr. Drudge said.

“But the addition of Rush Limbaugh to the ‘CBS Evening News’ is bound to generate maximum commotion and tune-in hits.

“‘It was Katie’s idea to bring Limbaugh in,’ a top CBS source said on Sunday. ‘She is very excited he has agreed to appear.’

Rudy Giuliani and Bill Maher have also signed on for early editions of Couric.”

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

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