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Inside Politics

- The Washington Times - Wednesday, July 18, 2007

Woman vs. woman

Elizabeth Edwards, wife of Democratic 2008 presidential candidate John Edwards, says her husband is stronger on "women's issues" than rival candidate Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton of New York.

"I think one of the things that make me so completely comfortable with [supporting her husband over a woman] is that keeping that door open to women is actually more a policy of John's than Hillary's," Mrs. Edwards said in an interview posted yesterday at Salon.com.

Mrs. Edwards added: "On the issues that are important to women, she has not ... well, health care, that's enormously important to women, all the polls say, and what she says now is, we're going to have a national conversation about health care. And then she describes some cost-saving things, which John also supports, but she acts like that's going to make health care affordable to everyone. And she knows it won't.

"She's not really talking about poverty, when the face of poverty is a woman's face, often a single mother. ...

"Look, I'm sympathetic, because when I worked as a lawyer, I was the only woman in these rooms, too, and you want to reassure them you're as good as a man. And sometimes you feel you have to behave as a man and not talk about women's issues. I'm sympathetic — she wants to be commander in chief. But she's just not as vocal a women's advocate as I want to see. John is."

Kerry vs. Romney

Still stung by accusations of flip-flopping in the 2004 presidential race, Sen. John Kerry on Monday accused former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney of being the real chameleon of presidential politics and jabbed Mr. Romney with the same taunts that helped sink his own 2004 White House bid, the Boston Herald reports.

"Let's be very clear. I had not changed my positions, and they played a game with that," Mr. Kerry, Massachusetts Democrat, said of his Republican critics in the 2004 race.

By contrast, he said, Mr. Romney is far more deserving of the flip-flopper label. "He's changed on abortion, he's changed on gay rights, and he's changed on marriage," Mr. Kerry said. "He's changed on guns, and he's changed on the war. That's pretty significant. I think people are asking the question out there, 'Who is he, really?' "

A Romney spokesman quickly returned fire, charging that Mr. Kerry is harboring the delusions of a fallen contender.

"This is a textbook case of Freudian projection," Eric Fehrnstrom said. "John Kerry is projecting his own undesirable traits onto other people. It's a mild form of personality disorder. Usually, it's not a cause for concern unless it shows up in a U.S. senator."

Franken's pals

In an April episode of ABC's "The View," Bill Maher and Rosie O'Donnell professed their support for Al Franken's 2008 Senate candidacy from Minnesota, with Miss O'Donnell saying she was "maxing out" to the comedian-turned-candidate.

Miss O'Donnell kept her word, contributing $2,300 to his campaign, the maximum donation for the primary, while Mr. Maher chipped in $1,000. They were among the more than 50 contributions that Mr. Franken, a former "Saturday Night Live" star, received from actors, writers, producers and others in the last reporting period, his campaign-finance report shows.

The man that Mr. Franken has in his cross-hairs, Republican Sen. Norm Coleman, used April's episode of "The View" to help with his own fundraising. In a letter to prospective contributors, Mr. Coleman wrote: "I need your help to fight back against Hollywood's liberal elite. Rosie O'Donnell, Bill Maher and Larry David sit atop the Democratic Party's elite clique of big benefactors."

Mr. Franken's friends in the entertainment field helped catapult him to a surprising lead in money raised in the second quarter of the year, covering April through June. Mr. Franken raised about $1.9 million, compared with $1.66 million for Mr. Coleman and $750,000 for another Democratic candidate, Mike Ciresi, the Associated Press reports.

Some entertainers did even better than Miss O'Donnell, contributing $4,600 — with $2,300 earmarked for the general election, should Mr. Franken get that far. Those included Dan Aykroyd, Robin Williams and Rolling Stone magazine founder Jann Wenner. Among other entertainment notables were actor Ed Norton, director Harold Ramis, actress Meg Ryan and cartoonist Garry Trudeau.

Not going away

The former commissioner of U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP), who organized the agency as a part of Homeland Security, says the long-term threat posed by al Qaeda terrorists and other Islamic extremists is not going to go away.

"We need to realize this here in America," former CBP Commissioner Robert C. Bonner said during a speech last week to the Washington-based Center for Strategic and International Studies. "We must not become complacent or engage in denial, because no amount of wishful thinking will make al Qaeda go away."

Mr. Bonner, a former federal judge and U.S. attorney who also headed the U.S. Customs Service and the Drug Enforcement Administration, said the threat remains constant in the wake of attacks in London and Glasgow, Scotland, and recent threats to New York's John F. Kennedy International Airport and Fort Dix Army base in New Jersey, reports Jerry Seper of The Washington Times.

Mr. Bonner said the U.S. response to the threat should emphasize three core elements: Continue attacks against terrorist organizations, prevent them from engaging in warfare against U.S. targets, and defuse the hatred toward America and the West by separating moderate and tolerant Muslims from the few jihadi extremists.

"Al Qaeda and its brand of Islamic terrorist extremism are why we must protect our ports and our supply chains and our economy, and the economies of all those many nations of the world that are our trading partners," he said.

Litmus test?

Democratic 2008 presidential candidate Sen. Barack Obama of Illinois said yesterday that it's time for "a different attitude on the Supreme Court" and that he would not allow abortion to be made illegal.

"We've been there before, and we're not going back," Mr. Obama said to cheers from pro-choice activists at a Planned Parenthood Action Fund conference in Washington. "There's a lot at stake in this election, especially for our daughters," Mr. Obama said as he decried recent Supreme Court rulings on abortion.

At a press conference later, Mr. Obama said he wouldn't have a litmus test "per se" that required his judicial nominees to support abortion rights, but "you get a pretty good sense from someone's writings, someone's body of work what their judicial philosophy is."

Elizabeth Edwards, wife of Obama rival John Edwards, told the Planned Parenthood conference that her husband's health care plan would cover abortions. "All reproductive health services, including pregnancy termination, will be available components of his plan," she said.

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