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Quick, somebody tell Hillary: Sen. John McCain hopes to woo the ladies, in New Hampshire and elsewhere. The Arizona Republican announced yesterday that a New Hampshire-based “Women for McCain” committee would soon be rallying women to support his bid for president in 2008.

Sen. McCain and his wife, Cindy, applaud the increasing role of women in elected office and American politics and believe this group will be instrumental in growing the campaign’s outreach efforts,” McCain spokesman Danny Diaz said.

The women are already chiming in, and in terms which would warm the heart of even the most calculating political handler.

“Now more than ever, America needs strong leadership,” said Mary Lyons of Portsmouth, N.H.

“He is the most knowledgeable candidate on how to handle the Iraq war and will put our nation’s safety first,” said Jayne Millerick of Bow, N.H.

Of his new found gal pals, Mr. McCain responded in kind. They are “women who want to create change in this country,” he said.

Slaughter House rules

The homeland security funding bill before the House today would postpone the implementation of tougher document requirements at U.S. land borders, reports United Press International’s Shaun Waterman.

Language authored by Rep. Louise M. Slaughter, New York Democrat and chairman of the House Rules Committee, would deny the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) access to funds to implement new rules until it has tested various forms of new ID documents.

“We have to force DHS to take the time to implement WHTI” — the Western Hemisphere Travel Initiative, of which the new rules are part — “in a rational manner that does not disrupt legitimate cross-border travel,” Mrs. Slaughter said.

Americans and Canadians now cross the northern U.S. land border in either direction with little more than a driver”s license by way of ID. The new rules require a secure document establishing identity and citizenship. But there is widespread concern from businesses and border lawmakers on both sides about the speed with which the changes are approaching and the lack of alternatives to the passport as a qualifying document.

Last week, Homeland Security suspended the WHTI rules it had introduced for travelers entering from Canada and the Caribbean by air. The huge backlog of passport applications was overwhelming the system and threatening chaos over the summer. And the numbers involved are tiny compared with those involved in land-border crossings, say travel industry lobbyists.

The Slaughter language would fence off $100 million of the quarter-billion allocated for WHTI in the 2008 appropriations bill. That money would not become available until DHS had tested and piloted both enhanced driver licenses and the new passport card to be produced next year by the State Department. The PASScard will not be in production until next spring at the earliest.

The loot on Newt

“The GOP grits teeth and smiles” when they ponder a possible Newt Gingrich run for president in 2008, according to the Politico’s David Baumann.

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