- The Washington Times - Thursday, June 7, 2007

Straw-poll dropouts

Republican presidential front-runner Rudolph W. Giuliani said yesterday he won’t compete in the Iowa straw poll, and rival John McCain quickly followed suit in bypassing the early test of strength.

“We are 100 percent committed to winning the Iowa caucuses in January,” said Mike DuHaime, the former New York City mayor’s campaign manager, even as he announced the decision to skip the Aug. 11 straw poll in Ames, Iowa.

Hours later, Terry Nelson, Mr. McCain’s campaign manager, told the Associated Press that in light of Mr. Giuliani’s announcement, “it’s clear that the Ames straw poll will not be a meaningful test of the leading candidates’ organizational abilities.” Thus, he said: “We have decided to forgo our participation in the event.”


Mr. Nelson said the Arizona Republican, like Mr. Giuliani, would still compete in the state’s lead-off caucuses.

Former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney has said he will participate in the nonbinding August straw poll.

Hagel’s challenger

“The attorney general of Nebraska, Jon Bruning, stopped by our office yesterday to let us know that tomorrow he will announce he will challenge Senator [Chuck] Hagel in the Republican primary, which is in May of 2008,” the New York Sun said yesterday in an editorial.

“A poll conducted for Mr. Bruning shows him leading Mr. Hagel among likely Republican primary voters by 9 percentage points. Mr. Bruning assails Mr. Hagel for being ‘the Republican that talks like a Democrat,’ pointing to Mr. Hagel’s support for a timeline for withdrawal from Iraq, as well as his discussion of impeaching President Bush. ‘He’s become arrogant and out of touch,’ Mr. Bruning said. ‘His constituent services are very poor.’

Mr. Bruning also mentioned New York Sun editorials documenting the weakness of Mr. Hagel’s record on Israel, including a recent speech by Mr. Hagel before an Arab-American group, in which Mr. Hagel said that support for Israel shouldn’t be automatic. Mr. Bruning, 38, has been to Israel three times and is seeking backing from the pro-Israel community for his challenge to Mr. Hagel. It’ll be interesting to see how Mr. Hagel’s weakness on foreign policy plays in the American heartland when challenged by a strong candidate such as Mr. Bruning,” the newspaper said.

Unusual offers

It must be close to the end of the fundraising quarter, because two of the Democrats running for president are sending out unusual solicitations for cash.

Any donors who give to Sen. Barack Obama in the next week will have a chance to sit down with the Illinois Democrat at an “intimate dinner” of five. The campaign said four supporters — whether they contribute $5 or $500 — will be selected soon for “a new kind of fundraising dinner.”

“Our campaign is different,” campaign manager David Plouffe told Obama supporters in an e-mail yesterday, first reported on The Washington Times’ blog Fishwrap.

“Our funding comes from a movement of Americans giving whatever they can afford, even $5, and Barack wants to sit down with supporters like you,” he said, reminding voters that the campaign won’t take contributions from lobbyists or political action committees.

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