- The Washington Times - Friday, February 16, 2007

Barnstorming Brownback

U.S. Sen. Sam Brownback is using the week-long Presidents Day recess next week to barnstorm across the country in pursuit of the Republican nomination for president.

Mr. Brownback, Kansas Republican, started today in Iowa and plans to touch down in eight states in nine days.

His itinerary includes stops in Nebraska, Florida, Ohio, Kentucky, Mississippi, Arizona, and California before ending back in Iowa, home of the first Republican caucus Jan. 21, 2008.

According to the campaign, Mr. Brownback will meet with party activists, donors, business leaders, address key Christian radio broadcasters, lead a fact-finding mission to the U.S.-Mexico border and headline the opening screening of Amazing Grace in Los Angeles.

— S.A. Miller, Capitol Hill correspondent, The Washington Times

McCain on the Web

U.S. Sen. John McCain today debuted a new Web site for his soon-to-be-announced presidential campaign.

Mr. McCain, Arizona Republican, said www.johnmccain.com would be his “virtual campaign headquarters.”

“Just like a real campaign headquarters, we would like to put you to work,” Mr. McCain said in an e-mail to supporters. “I encourage you to join my team and become my link to your own community of family and friends, both online and in your neighborhood.”

He asked supporters to sign up for campaign updates, create their own McCainSpace page on the site and, of course, “recruit ten friends and family members … to join our team and make an online contribution.”

The Web-savvy Mr. McCain invited the cyber-community to visit his site tomorrow at 10 a.m. for live video streaming of a town hall meeting in Des Moines, Iowa — the first town hall meeting of his 2008 campaign.

“The Internet is transforming the world, including American politics,” Mr. McCain said. “No longer is your participation in a presidential campaign dependent on living near a campaign office or being in an early primary state. At johnmccain.com, my campaign is building a strong online team of volunteers and providing you the information needed to make an informed decision in this election.”

He vowed the Web site would bring his trademark “straight talk” to the Internet. “I have always believed in the value of straight talk and this website is designed to allow us to have a direct, honest conversation about the issues and challenges our nation faces,” Mr. McCain said.

— S.A. Miller, Capitol Hill correspondent, The Washington Times

Happy 80th!

Sen. John Warner becomes an octogenarian tomorrow morning.

Fishwrap would like to wish the Virginia Republican a very happy birthday. Also noted, he’s not the oldest senator. In fact, he’s a decade younger than Sen. Robert Byrd, West Virginia Democrat.

— Christina Bellantoni, Capitol Hill correspondent, The Washington Times

Building our own Vatican?

The United States is building a Vatican in Iraq? No, but one might have been confused walking into the House appropriations subcommittee on state and foreign operations hearing this morning.

Secretary of State Condoleeza Rice was there to answer questions about the president’s supplemental appropriation for Iraq and Afghanistan.

After her testimony, Rep. David Obey, Wisconsin Democrat, quizzed her about the U.S. embassy being built in Iraq. “What on earth are we doing with that embassy in Iraq?” Mr. Obey said.

Miss Rice, who delayed her trip to the Middle East to testify this morning, said the $562 billion embassy is “on time and on budget.”

Mr. Obey was not impressed. “The fact that it’s being built at all is ludicrous. It’s as big as the Vatican?”

Miss Rice demurred. “Oh I doubt that,” she said.

— Jon Ward, Capitol Hill correspondent, The Washington Times

Let the squabbling begin

At 8 a.m., the House began its fourth day of debate on a non-binding resolution opposing President Bush’s troop surge into Iraq.

A vote is expected around 4 p.m. this afternoon.

At 8:30, Rep. Barney Frank rose to speak about the Republican practice of “political necrophilia.”

It was not clear exactly what Mr. Frank, Massachusetts Democrat, meant (we’ve asked Mr. Frank’s press secretary for an explanation).

Mr. Frank called the war in Iraq “the greatest national security disaster in American history.”

That’s because, he said, Afghanistan is the central front in the war against terrorism.

“Why listen to people who have been wrong about everything?” Mr. Frank said, referring to the Bush administration.

Democratic staffers sitting on the House floor giggled, while Republicans sat stone-faced on the other side.

Rep. Duncan Hunter, California Republican, rose to defend the president and the war in Iraq. “There are no smooth roads,” Mr. Hunter said, criticizing “armchair critics.”

Mr. Hunter yielded himself an additional 30 seconds. He spoke, then yielded himself another 30 seconds.

Mr. Frank ambled from a rostrum in the middle of the chamber to the front of the chamber, and sat down.

He then sprung up and stood at a rostrum up front, asking for a chance to respond.

Mr. Hunter yielded himself 15 more seconds.

“A number of the gentleman’s points have been strongly disproved by the operation in Iraq,” Mr. Hunter said.

Mr. Frank launched into an argument that Lebanon has not benefited from the war in Iraq.

Out in the House gallery, a Capitol Police officer sat reading the Washington Times. “They’re talking about a lot of nothing,” he said.

— Jon Ward, Capitol Hill correspondent, The Washington Times

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