- The Washington Times - Tuesday, August 7, 2007

Winnowing the field

“In the 1980 Republican presidential caucus campaign, Tennessee Sen. Howard Baker said one function of the Iowa caucuses was to ‘winnow the field’ of candidates,” Des Moines Register political columnistDavid Yepsen wrote yesterday.

“By that he meant Iowa caucus-goers in both parties take presidential campaigns with large numbers of candidates and cut the field to a more manageable size for voters in other states to consider.

“For Republicans, the Iowa scythe comes out Saturday,” Mr. Yepsen said.

“That’s when the state Republican Party stages its colorful but controversial ‘straw poll’ at Hilton Coliseum in Ames.

“With a $35 ticket, any Iowan who will be 18 on Election Day 2008 can cast a vote for a Republican presidential candidate. (You don’t even have to be a registered Republican, but you do have to show a government-issued photo ID, or student photo ID from an Iowa school, to prove your Iowa-ness.)

“One week from today, some of the candidates who do poorly will no longer be standing in the race. They will be damaged goods contemplating a withdrawal from the contest, because their fundraising will wither.”

Edwards on trade

Democratic presidential candidateJohn Edwards yesterday blamed presidents of both political parties for trade policies that he said have harmed workers. The United States needs a new tough trade outlook, he said.

“The trade policies of President Bush have devastated towns and communities all across America. But let’s be clear about something — this isn’t just his doing,” Mr. Edwards said in remarks prepared for a speech in Cedar Rapids, Iowa.

“For far too long, presidents from both parties have entered into trade agreements, like NAFTA, promising they would create millions of new jobs and enrich communities,” he said. “Instead, too many of these agreements have cost us jobs and devastated many of our towns.”

While Mr. Edwards did not mention Bill Clinton by name, the Democratic president — and husband of Edwards rival Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton was a driving force in getting the North American Free Trade Agreement, or NAFTA, approved in the early 1990s.

Mr. Edwards, the party’s vice presidential nominee in 2004, said the new policy should be aimed at lifting foreign labor and environmental standards and keeping out unsafe imported goods.

A perfect 10

Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney, who ran as a moderate in past campaigns in Massachusetts, yesterday rated himself as conservative as the late President Reagan.

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