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Inside Politics

- The Washington Times - Monday, August 13, 2007

Thompson quits

Former Wisconsin Gov. Tommy G. Thompson is dropping out of the race for the Republican presidential nomination, a campaign official said last night, according to the Associated Press.

His campaign released a statement saying he is leaving the campaign trail several hours after WITI-TV in Milwaukee reported that Mr. Thompson told one of its reporters he was withdrawing.

The campaign statement said Mr. Thompson intends to take some time off before returning to the private sector and his nonprofit work.

It said the 65-year-old says he's comforted by the fact that he thinks he made a difference for people during his campaign.

He finished sixth among 11 candidates in this weekend's GOP straw poll in Iowa. He had said before the Iowa event that he would drop out of the race unless he finished first or second.

The statement didn't say whether he would endorse another candidate.

The veteran of four successful campaigns for governor of Wisconsin had a good track record of winning elections.

He quit during his fourth term as governor to serve as President Bush's secretary of health and human services from 2001 to the end of 2004.

He was first elected in 1966 at age 24 to the Wisconsin Legislature, not long after he graduated from the University of Wisconsin. Twenty years later, he won his first term as governor, and earned a national reputation for policies that moved many Wisconsin families from welfare to work.

Savaging Savage

A city official is urging San Francisco to condemn Michael Savage for what he calls "hatred and racism" because of the talk-radio host's stance against illegal aliens.

Supervisor Gerardo Sandoval introduced a resolution last week condemning the "defamatory language used by radio personality Michael Savage against immigrants," after the nationally syndicated host criticized a group of students at the University of California's Berkeley campus who were staging a hunger strike to protest U.S. immigration policy.

The city's Board of Supervisors had previously passed a resolution praising the Berkeley protesters "for their dedication to improving the lives of the immigrant community in America."

"I would say, let them fast until they starve to death, then that solves the problem," Mr. Savage said on the July 5 broadcast of his "Savage Nation" program, which is heard locally on WTNT-570 AM in Washington.

Mr. Sandoval's resolution, condemning Mr. Savage's comments as "symbolic of hatred and racism," is s cheduled for a vote tomorrow by the city's Board of Supervisors, the San Francisco Examiner reports. The resolution also expresses support for a protest planned Wednesday outside a San Francisco radio station "urging the termination" of Mr. Savage's show.

Mr. Savage, a longtime San Francisco area resident known for his bombastic style, responded by calling Mr. Sandoval a "shmuck," and denounced the proposed resolution as "something out of Kafka and the ex-Soviet Union."

Re-education

Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton last week scolded a conservative freelance writer and offered to re-educate him about the differences between socialized medicine and her health care plans, reporter Brian DeBose writes in his "On Politics" blog at www. washington times.com.

During a session at the National Association of Black Journalists annual convention in Las Vegas, blogger Kiara Ashanti asked Mrs. Clinton why she was advocating to "bring socialized medicine" to the U.S. when "reports from Canada and the U.K. show that is has been harmful to their citizens' level of care and that the countries are pulling back from it?"

The New York Democrat said the question posed "too many distortions" for her to address in 30 seconds. "I have never called for socialized health care. That is an old right-wing distortion," she told Mr. Ashanti.

She went on to say that she wanted Mr. Ashanti to come backstage and speak with her staff so that he could be "educated on the topic so you can speak intelligently about the topic, instead of just being rhetorical."

Out for a walk

Cecilia Sarkozy, wife of French President Nicolas Sarkozy, was seen yesterday taking a stroll in Wolfeboro, N.H., where the couple has been vacationing, a day after she claimed illness in declining lunch with President Bush.

Mrs. Sarkozy was photographed walking with two friends in town, after turning down an invitation for a hot dog and hamburger picnic with the president and his family at the Bush retreat in nearby Kennebunkport, Maine. Mrs. Sarkozy telephoned Laura Bush about an hour before lunch to explain she had a throat ailment and she and her children would not be able to make the gathering, touted as a rapport-building casual lunch between the two presidents.

Mr. Bush said he was "disappointed" by her absence but understood. Mr. Sarkozy expressed regret for having passed the illness to his wife, Agence France-Presse reports.

Mr. Sarkozy, meanwhile, was seen wearing earphones and jogging on a lakeside path with a seven-strong entourage. The couple and their children have been vacationing in New Hampshire since late July.

Recurring issue

Frustration over illegal aliens followed Republican presidential candidate Sen. John McCain on Saturday as he finished a three-day campaign trip to eastern New Hampshire.

At a VFW hall in Conway, a woman who had questioned the Arizona senator the night before in Wolfeboro confronted him again, pushing him to support making English the nation's official language.

"I'm terribly concerned there's real danger we're going to lose our country from within," said the woman, who refused to give her name. "Even if we make English the national language, what difference does it make if you can vote [in Spanish], if everywhere you go, the hospitals are obliged to provide interpreters? We need one language."

Mr. McCain said he thinks more must be done to require immigrants to learn English, but addressed her suspicions with some of his trademark straight talk, the Associated Press reports.

"I understand your concern that our traditions and our culture and background are being overwhelmed by another culture, but I believe we're stronger than that," he said.

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