- 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.

In his 12th visit to Florida since January, the former Massachusetts governor was asked to grade himself as a conservative on a scale of one to 10 if Reagan were a 10.

“Probably a 10 as well,” Mr. Romney said. “I’m trying to think in what places we would differ. As I’ve gotten older, Reagan keeps getting smarter and smarter.”

He added that he is not a carbon copy of Reagan, but they have some core beliefs in common, the Associated Press reports.

“I’m a believer in markets; I’m a believer in American freedom; I am optimistic about America’s future,” Mr. Romney said. “I share the same optimism that Ronald Reagan had. I wish I had his good looks.”

Fight Club

“The House of Representatives almost turned into the Fight Club Thursday night, when Democrats ruled that a GOP motion had failed even though, when the gavel fell, the electronic scoreboard showed it winning 215-213 along with the word FINAL. The presiding officer, Rep. Mike McNulty (New York Democrat), actually spoke over the clerk who was trying to announce the result,” John Fund writes at www.OpinionJournal.com.

“In the ensuing confusion several members changed their votes and the GOP measure to deny illegal aliens benefits such as food stamps then trailed 212-216. Boiling-mad Republicans stormed off the floor. The next day, their fury increased when they learned electronic records of the vote had disappeared from the House’s voting system,” Mr. Fund said.

Speaker Nancy Pelosi made matters worse when she told reporters, “There was no mistake made last night.” Majority Leader Steny Hoyer had to rescue her by acknowledging that, while he thought no wrongdoing had occurred, the minority party was ‘understandably angry.’ Under pressure, the House unanimously agreed to create a select committee, with subpoena powers, to investigate Republican charges the vote had been ‘stolen.’

“Congress appears to be gripped by a partisanship that borders on tribal warfare. In a forthcoming book, Los Angeles Times columnist Ron Brownstein compares it to a ‘second Civil War’ that has led to ‘the virtual collapse of meaningful collaboration’ between the two parties. Public disenchantment with Washington is such that now both New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg and Democratic former senator Sam Nunn of Georgia are musing openly about an independent run for president. But Congress itself has to act if it doesn’t want to degenerate into one of those fist-wielding European or Asian parliaments we occasionally see on TV.”

Rudy’s daughter

The daughter of Republican presidential hopeful Rudolph W. Giuliani signaled she was supporting Democrat Barack Obama, then backed off when faced with questions.

On her Facebook profile, 17-year-old Caroline Giuliani listed herself as a member of Mr. Obama’s Facebook group, “Barack Obama (One Million Strong for Barack).” She left the group yesterday morning after the online magazine Slate sent an inquiry, and later in the day a spokeswoman said Miss Giuliani did not intend to comment on the 2008 race.

“Before the presidential campaign got under way, Caroline added herself to a list on Facebook as an expression of interest in certain principles,” said the spokeswoman, Joannie Danielides. “It was not intended as an indication of support in a presidential campaign, and she has removed it.”

Her profile can be viewed by Facebook users who have access to New York City’s Trinity School or Harvard University networks. Caroline, who is Giuliani’s daughter with his second wife, Donna Hanover, recently graduated from Trinity and will attend Harvard in the fall.

Slate posted a screen shot of her profile, which uses a slightly different last name. She lists herself as having liberal political views.

Mr. Giuliani, campaigning in Iowa, declined to comment on his daughter’s political preference, the Associated Press reports.

“My daughter, I love very much,” he told reporters outside an Italian restaurant in Clear Lake. “I have great respect for her, and I’m really proud of her, and I don’t comment on children, because I want to give them the maximum degree of privacy.”

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