- The Washington Times - Tuesday, July 24, 2007

Wake-up call

“Special elections to fill vacant House seats are usually fought over local concerns, but often they have national overtones. The stunning result of a Georgia race last week is a case in point,” John Fund writes at www.OpinionJournal.com.

“Because no Democrat finished among the top two candidates in last month’s primary, the runoff pitted two Republicans against each other to succeed Rep. Charlie Norwood, who died in February. Poorly funded physicianPaul Broun Jr. scored a shocking 50.4 percent victory over former state Sen. Jim Whitehead, the establishment’s consensus favorite,” Mr. Fund noted.

“Columnist Robert Novak says Dr. Broun’s victory has ‘terrified those incumbent Republican House members who had thought themselves safe for re-election in 2008” primaries. …

“In last month’s primary, Mr. Whitehead won 44 percent of the vote to just 21 percent for Dr. Broun. But the front-runner made stumble after stumble, allowing the 61-year-old Dr. Broun to assemble a coalition that included not only conservative Republicans, but liberal Democrats from his hometown of Athens.

Mr. Whitehead told a crowd in his own hometown of Augusta that he would focus mainly on that city’s concerns as congressman, and he refused to attend campaign events in Athens. Worse, he jokingly suggested that liberals at the University of Georgia ought to be bombed. …

“But Dr. Broun won for other reasons, too. Phil Kent, a former editorial-page editor of the Augusta Chronicle, told me that the upset victory by a candidate as conservative as Dr. Broun should be taken as ‘a wake-up call’ by the party’s establishment.”

Spitzer scandal

New York’s attorney general issued a report yesterday recommending disciplinary action be considered against Gov. Eliot Spitzer’s office for releasing information about a top legislator’s use of state aircraft.

“The governor’s office planned to obtain information concerning Sen. [Joseph] Bruno’s use of state aircraft for the purpose of giving this information to the media,” Attorney General Andrew M. Cuomo wrote in his report on the scandal.

Mr. Bruno, the Senate majority leader, had accused Mr. Spitzer’s office of political espionage.

The simmering conflict between the Democratic governor and the Republican state Senate leader boiled over in early July after the Times Union of Albany reported that Mr. Bruno had been using state aircraft to attend fundraisers in Manhattan. Mr. Bruno blamed Mr. Spitzer for releasing the records and accused the governor of using state police to spy on him.

Mr. Cuomo’s investigation found that “under the pretext of responding to a Freedom of Information Law request, the governor’s liaison caused the acting superintendent of the state police to create documents detailing where the state police had driven Sen. Bruno, and report details of Sen. Bruno’s requests for ground transportation, upcoming schedules and changes to those schedules.”

“This conduct deviated from state police standard operating procedures and past practices, and was not required” by the law, the report said.

The report found that Mr. Bruno’s use of state aircraft had been appropriate under a policy that “is overly permissive and porous and allows for an abuse of taxpayer funds.”

McCain upbeat

To hear John McCain talk about it Sunday, his presidential campaign woes — so severe two weeks ago some observers speculated that the Arizona Republican would withdraw — have disappeared almost overnight, the Des Moines Register reports.

In fact, Mr. McCain said, he isn’t going to talk anymore about the problems that bedeviled his campaign.

“I will not respond to any more questions about process,” he said when asked about them at his campaign headquarters in Des Moines. “I did that for two weeks. I cut down at least three forests worth of paper being written on it.”

Instead, Mr. McCain, on his first visit to Iowa since campaign-fundraising problems and overspending forced a dramatic reduction in his national and Iowa campaign staffs, claimed that he can still win the GOP presidential nomination.

That’s what he told about 50 supporters — mostly campaign county chairmen — during a private meeting at his headquarters Sunday afternoon.

“I told them that everything is great, and we are very encouraged and we are doing fine,” Mr. McCain said. “I am happy about the state of our campaign. We will do fine, we are competitive and we will win in Iowa.”

Brownback’s calls

Two Republican presidential candidates are demanding apologies from fellow GOP hopeful Sen. Sam Brownback for questioning their opposition to abortion in automated phone calls to voters.

Mitt Romney is telling Iowans he is firmly pro-life. Nothing could be further from the truth,” said the Brownback campaign’s phone message.

The message goes on to attack the former Massachusetts governor’s wife, warning: “His wife, Ann, has contributed money to Planned Parenthood.”

Romney spokesman Tim Albrecht expressed outrage at what he called “despicable, negative phone calls,” the Associated Press reports.

“They should apologize to Ann Romney and Governor Romney for this personal attack,” Mr. Albrecht said.

Mr. Brownback’s campaign has also been making phone calls in Iowa that criticize Colorado Rep. Tom Tancredo for taking campaign money from a Planned Parenthood backer.

“Say ‘no” to Tom Tancredo and his Planned Parenthood friend and help end abortion in America,” the caller says, according to a script confirmed by Mr. Brownback’s campaign.

Mr. Tancredo said Mr. Brownback, of Kansas, is a longtime friend who “is well aware of my lifelong commitment to the unborn.”

“I call on Senator Brownback to cease with the maliciously misleading push calls intended to harm me and apologize,” Mr. Tancredo said.

Mr. Brownback’s campaign said it stood by both calls.

Giuliani’s ads

Republican presidential hopefulRudolph W. Giuliani plans to launch a trio of radio ads today in New Hampshire and Iowa, highlighting his accomplishments as New York’s mayor and promises he has made during the campaign.

“Leadership is about what we can do, what we can accomplish, never saying, taking ‘No’ for an answer,” Mr. Giuliani says in one ad.

In the new ads, Mr. Giuliani tells voters he overcame expectations and turned around New York, the Associated Press reports.

“Every promise I made running as mayor of New York City they said couldn’t be done, said I couldn’t cut crime, New York City was the crime capital of the America — can’t be done,” Mr. Giuliani says.

A voice-over says crime dropped 56 percent during Mr. Giuliani’s tenure. The unseen narrator also tells voters that welfare rolls in New York City dropped 58 percent and that Mr. Giuliani turned a $2.3 billion deficit into “a multibillion-dollar surplus and cut or eliminated 23 taxes.”

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