- The Washington Times - Wednesday, February 7, 2007

Rudy and Judi

Former New York Mayor Rudolph W. Giuliani is off to an indecorous start in his bid for the White House. He did not look particularly presidential on the cover of the New York Post yesterday, posed in a heavy kiss with his third wife, Judith. And “Judi” had plenty to say, referring to the man once famous for his stalwart dignity after September 11 as “my big testosterone factor husband.”

The display annoyed Barbara Walters, Joy Behar and Rosie O’Donnell on ABC’s “The View,” who also theorized yesterday that the Giulianis’ affection would be overlooked by the same press that dogged President Clinton during his own romantic entanglements with Monica Lewinsky almost a decade ago.

Meanwhile, the critics piled on.

“Rudy’s Judi goes all Chatty Kathy in a no-win twitter-fest interview that should stop right now. Voters hate too much information. Some flack should fry,” Lucianne Goldberg observed at her Web site, Lucianne.com.

“If you want to be First Lady, first be a lady,” agreed a visitor to Mrs. Goldberg’s message board.

Mr. Giuliani is “neither conservative, nor electable,” noted Terence P. Jeffrey of National Review Online.

W. James Antle III of the American Spectator wrote: “Nominating Giuliani, who would be the first pro-choice Republican presidential nominee since the religious right became a well organized GOP faction, could be interpreted as a sign of social conservative weakness.”

The numbers

Rudolph W. Giuliani barely leads rival Democrats in election matchups, according to a Rasmussen survey. He garnered 47 percent of the vote compared with 45 percent awarded John Edwards by respondents. Mr. Giuliani had an eight-point lead only a month ago. He leads Sen. Barack Obama of Illinois 46 percent to 40 percent; a month ago, it was 50 percent to 39 percent.

The survey of 800 likely voters was conducted Jan. 18-21 with a margin of error of four percentage points.

The simian factor

White House hopeful Mike Huckabee is ready to rumble with fellow Republicans such as former New York Mayor Rudolph W. Giuliani and Sen. John McCain of Arizona.

“The thing about 800-pound gorillas is when they fall, they make a big thud and leave a huge hole in the ground,” Mr. Huckabee said during a Washington visit yesterday, as noted by Washington Times reporter Eric Pfeiffer.

The former governor of Arkansas said he sees little more to the Giuliani and McCain campaigns than “automatic celebrity status” and large fundraising operations.

“It’s better to make headway than headlines,” he said.

Fundraising should not be the sole measure of political strength, Mr. Huckabee said, “Otherwise, we might as well put the whole thing on EBay.” Still on a roll, Mr. Huckabee allowed that Mr. McCain’s support of the war in Iraq could dim his chances in the 2008 presidential election.

“That and a Washington address are probably not strong attributes at this point,” he said.

Mr. Huckabee remains philosophical about lingering in the 5 percent range in favorability polls.

“It’s not frustrating to me that I’m considered second tier, maybe third tier,” among Republican candidates. But the ever-practical Mr. Huckabee added that he “needs to do well” in an Iowa straw poll in August to remain a viable contender.

“One of the reasons that I’m running for president is because I think that America needs folks who understand what it is to start at the bottom of the ladder and climb their way to the top,” Mr. Huckabee said Sunday in announcing his intention to run for president.

Mitt’s in the ring

Campaign aides to former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney told the Associated Press yesterday that their boss will formally toss his hat into the ring and announce his candidacy for president next week in Michigan, his native state.

Mr. Romney, a Republican, will make his announcement Tuesday, and then will visit Iowa, New Hampshire and South Carolina — the first states to hold 2008 contests. Two days later, he will return to Boston, where he will hold what his campaign is calling “a unity event” with supporters, aides said. They spoke on the condition of anonymity because the plans were not public.

Who, what & when

Former White House aide I. Lewis “Scooter” Libby Jr. said he learned about a CIA officer from Vice President Dick Cheney, forgot it, then learned it again from NBC News reporter Tim Russert a month later, the Associated Press reported, citing grand jury audiotapes played at his trial yesterday.

The complicated history of Mr. Libby’s recollections is at the heart of his perjury and obstruction of justice trial. Mr. Libby’s 2004 grand jury testimony — a total of eight hours — conflicts with testimony at the current trial by a former White House press secretary, a recent vice-presidential spokeswoman, a former CIA official, a former State Department undersecretary and reporters from the New York Times and Time magazine.

All testified that Mr. Libby discussed CIA employee Valerie Plame with them. Mr. Libby told the grand jury that he did not remember Mrs. Plame coming up in any of those conversations.

Justice for all

Deputy Attorney General Paul J. McNulty yesterday acknowledged that six U.S. attorneys nationwide were fired in December, some without cause, but denied accusations by Democrats that they were dismissed for political reasons, said Washington Times reporter Jerry Seper.

Mr. McNulty told the Senate Judiciary Committee that the six prosecutors were asked for their resignations during telephone calls and that seven others were asked to leave their posts last year.

“The attorney general’s appointment authority has not and will not be used to circumvent the confirmation process,” Mr. McNulty said. “We never have and never will seek to remove a United States attorney to interfere with an ongoing investigation or prosecution. Such an act is contrary to the most basic values of our system of justice, the proud legacy of the Department of Justice, and our integrity as public servants.”

Committee Democrats were critical over what they have described as the forced resignations of the prosecutors, particularly those in Arkansas and California, which they said were aimed at rewarding political allies. Saying a little-known provision slipped into the USA Patriot Act allows the attorney general to replace prosecutors indefinitely, the Democrats — and some Republicans — want legislation to give interim appointment authority to U.S. District Court judges, with a deadline by which the prosecutor must be confirmed by the Senate.

Sen. Charles E. Schumer, New York Democrat, told Mr. McNulty that after 24 years in the House and Senate, he had “never seen the department more politicized and pushed further away from its mission as an apolitical enforcer of the rule of law.”

Contact Jennifer Harper at jharper@washingtontimes.com or 202/636-3085.

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