Inside Politics

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Producers will select 20 to 30 questions for each debate — Democrats on July 23 and Republicans on Sept. 17. And is it all fancy? Each candidate will have a flat-screen TV to view the question, with a Google Earth map of where the questioner is located.

None other than Democratic National Committee Chairman Howard Dean lauded the format as groundbreaking and helping to “usher in a new era in American politics that recognizes campaigns require a two-way dialogue between voters and their candidates on the future of our country.”

Well, let”s hope they don’t have a power failure.

The Washington Times is considering posting its own debate questions for both parties. Visit The Washington Times’ blog Fishwrap to submit ideas at http://video1. washingtontimes.com/fishwrap.

Not one of the guys

“One of the frustrations is that there is more attention on Britney Spears getting out of a car without underwear than there is about who is going to be the next president,” Republican presidential hopeful Mike Huckabee said during a press conference in Iowa yesterday.

“Accompanying Paris Hilton to jail might work,” he theorized, adding that in a two-hour debate, he typically gets just six minutes on camera.

Mr. Huckabee lamented the fact that there are “three guys who seem to have been anointed by the national media to get a preponderance of the time no matter what they do, where they do it and what they say.”

The three guys? “Rudy Giuliani, John McCain and Mitt Romney,” he said.

Reconsidering?

Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney, who brags on the campaign trail of having denied all 272 requests for pardons or commutations during his term as Massachusetts governor, said yesterday that a pardon for former White House aide I. Lewis “Scooter” Libby Jr. deserves a close examination.

“I took a careful review during my term as governor of the people that were brought forward. That doesn”t mean I pardoned them, but I took a careful review. I think this deserves a very careful review,” Mr. Romney told the Associated Press in a brief interview.

Libby, a former chief of staff to Vice President Dick Cheney, was convicted in March of lying to investigators and obstructing special prosecutor Patrick J. Fitzgerald’s inquiry into the 2003 leak of a CIA employee’s name. A federal judge yesterday said he will not delay a 2½-year prison sentence for Libby in the case. Calls by Republican candidates to pardon Libby often draw cheers from party faithful at rallies.

“I think the prosecutor may well have abused prosecutorial discretion by pursuing the investigation after he had learned that the source of the leak was Richard Armitage,” Mr. Romney said. “He knew that there was, therefore, not a crime committed and yet, he proceeded with the investigation knowing that there was no crime to pursue.

“That abuse of prosecutorial discretion justifies a very careful look,” he said.

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