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Inside Politics

- The Washington Times - Thursday, July 19, 2007

No litmus test

Republican presidential candidate Rudolph W. Giuliani, a proponent of abortion rights, said yesterday he would not use a judicial nominee's stand on the issue or the landmark Supreme Court decision as a litmus test.

On a campaign swing through conservative western Iowa, the former New York mayor pledged to appoint judges who would strictly interpret the Constitution on gun rights and other issues. Abortion never came up in his address to about 100 people at a high school in Council Bluffs, but it did during an exchange with reporters, the Associated Press reports.

"Abortion is not a litmus test. Roe v. Wade is not a litmus test. No particular case is a litmus test. That's not the way to appoint Supreme Court justices or any judge," Mr. Giuliani said.

Roe v. Wade is the 1973 Supreme Court ruling that established a constitutional right to abortion. Mr. Giuliani favors abortion rights, though he has said he personally opposes the procedure, a stand that puts him at odds with his Republican rivals and most conservatives.

In talking to reporters, he said candidates for the federal judiciary would refuse to make up their mind ahead of time on future abortion rulings.

"Otherwise, why have legal arguments if you're not going to give judges a chance to change their mind," Mr. Giuliani said.

He noted that he got no questions on abortion in his appearance. "I think Roe against Wade is an issue. It is not the only issue," he said.

McConnell's stance

"If Republican senators abandon President Bush on Iraq in September, Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell won't be leading the stampede. Not that he had ever planned to. But McConnell had talked earlier about his expectation that Bush would adopt 'a new direction' in Iraq in September, one that might involve a pullback of American troops from combat," Fred Barnes writes at www.weeklystandard.com.

"Now McConnell has grown a bit more optimistic about progress in Iraq. 'The success in Anbar [province] has gotten around,' he said. And this has affected those senators — chiefly Republicans — who are 'swayed by what is actually happening' on the ground in Iraq. 'That's a good sign.'

"McConnell now thinks Republicans will succeed in blocking all Democratic efforts this month to limit the role of American troops in Iraq. 'I'm cautiously optimistic we're going to make it through this particular exercise with no damaging vote succeeding.' McConnell himself has emerged as a strong pro-Iraq voice," Mr. Barnes wrote.

"At least until September, he told me, 'the president and the military are going to have total latitude.' It's in September that Gen. David Petraeus will report to Washington about the success of the so-called 'surge' of American forces in Iraq. That's 'the critical moment,' McConnell said."

Richardson's ad

New Mexico Gov. Bill Richardson aired a new ad in Iowa and New Hampshire yesterday, demanding that all U.S. troops come out of Iraq and calling on Congress "to stand up to this president."

The ad opened as Senate Republicans sunk a Democratic plan that would have required troops to begin coming home within 120 days, with a complete pullout by April 30, 2008, the Associated Press reports.

"Our troops have done everything we've asked, and I don't want to see any more die," Mr. Richardson says in the ad, as he walks through the foothills of his home state.

Hillary lawsuit

Judicial Watch, a public-interest law group, said yesterday that it has filed a lawsuit seeking Democratic presidential front-runner Hillary Rodham Clinton's records from her years as first lady.

The lawsuit, filed Monday in U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia against the National Archives, contends the archives has a legal obligation to demand the records from the Clinton presidential library in Little Rock, Ark., and to make them publicly available, according to a Judicial Watch statement.

The group is seeking Mrs. Clinton's calendar, daily office diary, telephone log book and chronological file for the eight years her husband, Bill Clinton, was president, the Associated Press reports.

The group filed a Freedom of Information Act request with the archives on April 5, 2006, for the materials but never received a reply, the statement said.

Mrs. Edwards' ad

Elizabeth Edwards tells voters that her husband, Democratic presidential hopeful John Edwards, is a tough guy "who can stare the worst in the face and not blink" in an ad set to start airing yesterday in New Hampshire.

Elizabeth Edwards, who makes frequent campaign stops in early-voting states for her husband, appears in the ad that the campaign hopes will highlight the couple's marriage, the Associated Press reports.

"I have been blessed for the last 30 years to be married to the most optimistic person that I have ever met," she says as photographs from the campaign fade in and out. "But at the same time he has an unbelievable toughness, particularly about other people, and that is his ability to fight for them.

"You're not going to outsmart him. He works harder than any human being that I know, always has," she adds. "It's unbelievably important that, in our president, we have someone who can stare the worst in the face and not blink."

Kucinich ill

Democratic presidential candidate Dennis J. Kucinich, who is a vegan, has been hospitalized with severe effects of apparent food poisoning.

The 60-year-old Ohio congressman became sick Sunday night while flying to Fort Lauderdale, Fla., to address the national longshoremen's convention. He went ahead with a speech Monday but immediately returned home and was hospitalized in the Cleveland area.

The name of the hospital wasn't disclosed, the Associated Press reports. Andy Juniewicz, a campaign spokesman, said Mr. Kucinich was improving Tuesday night and said no medical update was available yesterday morning.

Probing lenders

Rep. George Miller, California Democrat and chairman of the Committee on Education and Labor, sent a letter to the Government Accountability Office yesterday asking it to investigate whether nonprofit student lenders are providing their top executives with a lavish lifestyle and thus abusing their tax-exempt status.

"Nonprofit lenders exist to help students," he said. "When they stray from that mission, they shouldn't enjoy any special benefits."

State and federal investigators, including those from Mr. Miller's committee, have uncovered kickback schemes, conflicts of interest and expensive perks between some lenders and college officials nationwide. The scandal prompted the House to approve legislation outlawing such behavior.

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