Texas Rep. Ron Paul garnered 216 of 266 votes in a Republican presidential straw poll conducted Saturday in Tuscaloosa, Ala., by the West Alabama Republican Assembly.
Among the supporters on hand to cheer Mr. Paul's straw-poll victory was Thomas Woods, author of the 2004 bestseller, "The Politically Incorrect Guide to American History."
"Ron Paul believes in freedom and the Constitution, and as a historian it is my sincere opinion that he is the greatest congressman in American history," said Mr. Woods, a senior fellow at the libertarian Mises Institute in Auburn, Ala. Activists paid $35 each to participate in the event held at the Bryant Conference Center, reported Jamon Smith of the Tuscaloosa News.
"We're not endorsing anybody, but if one candidate wants to energize and mobilize his voters, then more power to him," DeWayne Fowler, president of the West Alabama Republican Assembly, told the News.
Former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney came in at a distant second with 14 votes, followed by California Rep. Duncan Hunter with 10 votes. No other candidate got a double-digit number of votes.
White House political adviser Karl Rove says Republican voters would accept a presidential candidate who will try to "make abortion less prevalent" but not necessarily illegal, reports Sean Lengell of The Washington Times.
Speaking on "Fox News Sunday," Mr. Rove said "the essential core" of the party's pro-life stance was "appointing conservative judges, encouraging adoptions, standing for the restrictions that we have in current law so there's no federal funding" for abortions.
"I find a lot of people who are pro-life who are willing to take a candidate who will carry that standard," he said, while not denying questioner Chris Wallace's saying that a candidate "could carry that standard, but also defend a woman's fundamental right to choose."
"Our party is a pro-life party," said Mr. Rove, who is stepping down as White House deputy chief of staff. Former New York Mayor Rudolph W. Giuliani is the only Republican presidential candidate who calls himself pro-choice on abortion.
But, Mr. Rove said, "I do think people are accepting of candidates who ... may have a slightly different label or may have a slightly different attitude, as long as people respect and understand the essential core of that, which is what we need to do in order to make abortion less prevalent in America."
He also advised pro-lifers not to expect 100 percent agreement from politicians.
"People who enter politics tend to sort of want everything very quickly. And as time goes on they mature. They get a more mature understanding of politics and say, 'You know what, I want somebody's who's with me, you know, 80 or 90 percent of the time.' "
"Texas Democrat Henry Cuellar is today fond of quoting a famous Lyndon Johnson line: 'You know the difference between cannibals and liberals? Cannibals only eat their enemies,' " the Wall Street Journal's Kimberley A. Strassel wrote in a column published Friday.
"Mr. Cuellar would know, having found himself the main course on liberals' election menu just last year. A centrist Democrat who is pro-business, free-trade and strong on law enforcement, the congressman was designated an apostate by the left-wing Netroots crowd. They decamped to his district and bankrolled a liberal primary challenger. Mr. Cuellar triumphed, though Daily Kos founder Markos Moulitsas would later swagger on his blog: 'So we didn't kill off Cuellar. But we gave him a whooping where none was expected and made him sweat.'
"Which is the point. If the liberal blogging phenomenon deserves to be known for anything, it is the strategy to intimidate or silence anyone who disagrees with its own out-of-the-mainstream views. That muzzling has been on full display in recent weeks as Mr. Moulitsas and fellow online speech police have launched a campaign against the centrist Democratic Leadership Council. ...
"Yet a lively midweek chat with Mr. Cuellar suggests that this campaign of threats isn't necessarily having the intended effect," the columnist said. "If anything, it might be backfiring. 'They win when they intimidate people,' says Mr. Cuellar. 'I've taken everything they've thrown, plus their kitchen sink, and I still stand proud as a moderate-conservative Democrat.' He says his triumph over blogger fire has only strengthened his conviction that his party will only win elections if it continues to be a 'big tent' open to all views."
"Anybody who has ever stayed until quitting time at a gin mill knows the feeling. The crowd is thinning and the energy is sagging even before the bartender makes it official: Last call," New York Daily News columnist Michael Goodwin writes.
"Barack Obama doesn't strike me as a guy who spends much time in saloons, but he's probably starting to get that last-call feeling. He has to know his presidential campaign is running out of time," Mr. Goodwin said.
"Sen. Hillary Clinton, she of the high negatives and polarizing personality, is pulling away from the Illinois rookie. Like water running downhill, she's filling all the cracks and crevices and leaving him no safe place to stand. The bigger her lead in the polls, the more gaffes he makes, which produces even bigger numbers for her. She has about a 20-point lead in national surveys, is now ahead in all the early states and has huge leads in delegate-rich Florida and California. Even Obama's wife, Michelle, is starting to show the strains, ominously warning an Iowa crowd that 'The game of politics is to make you afraid, so that you don't think.'
"Her point, presumably, was that voters should be afraid if her husband loses. Hmmm."
"Well, it seems that some of the president's political advisers are catching Obama-mania," Paul Bedard writes in the Washington Whispers column of U.S. News & World Report.
"Insiders tell us that the team that once thought Sen. Hillary Clinton had a headlock on the Democratic presidential nomination now believes that challenger Sen. Barack Obama's chances are rising as voters take a good look at him and his optimistic message. In fact, one Bush adviser who accurately predicted Bill Clinton would emerge from a crowded 1992 field put the odds at near even that Obama would eke out a victory. 'He's been doing better,' says the adviser, who adds that Obama has to prove that 'he can walk over hot coals, because that's what it's going to take.' "
Greg Pierce can be reached at 202/636-3285 or gpierce@washingtontimes .com.