- The Washington Times - Friday, September 21, 2007

‘Hillary drag’

“The Era of the Red State Democrat will have suffered a very short reign if Hillary Clintonwins her party’s nomination next year, at least according to the fears of some members of her party,” Jim Geraghty writes at National Review Online (www.nationalreview.com).

“While 2006 saw impressive Democratic wins on traditionally Republican turf, most notably Jim Webb in Virginia, Jon Tester in Montana, Nancy Boyda in Kansas, and Heath Shuler in North Carolina, some red-state Democrats warn that the ‘Hillary drag’ may eviscerate their ranks in 2008,” Mr. Geraghty said.

“Some are quiet about it, like the 39 Democratic state and local officials who told the Associated Press they would talk about their fears of Hillary Clinton dragging them down only if they could remain anonymous, fearing reprisals from the Clintons.

“But some are louder, like Dave “Mudcat” Sanders, a consultant for John Edwards‘ campaign, and one of the most colorful and lively Democratic strategists in America. He puts it simply: ‘Edwards has coattails; Hillary has anti-coattails.’ …

“One Democratic strategist, who works for a candidate preparing to challenge an incumbent Republican in a deep red district in the Midwest, has put together a list of 37 vulnerable rural or red-district House Democrats. Republicans would need to win 16 to retake control of the House.”

Zapping Thompson

Republican presidential candidate Fred Thompson yesterday shrugged off criticism from conservative activist James Dobson, saying he has friends who likely know the influential Christian leader and they hold him in high regard.

In a private e-mail obtained by the Associated Press, Mr. Dobson accuses the actor and former senator from Tennessee of being weak on the campaign trail and wrong on issues dear to social conservatives.

“Isn’t Thompson the candidate who is opposed to a Constitutional amendment to protect marriage, believes there should be 50 different definitions of marriage in the U.S., favors McCain-Feingold, won’t talk at all about what he believes, and can’t speak his way out of a paper bag on the campaign trail?” Mr. Dobson wrote.

“He has no passion, no zeal, and no apparent ‘want to.’ And yet he is apparently the Great Hope that burns in the breasts of many conservative Christians. Well, not for me, my brothers. Not for me!”

Questioned about the e-mail during a campaign appearance in Texas, Mr. Thompson said: “I really have no comment.”

Mr. Thompson, who sounded at times unsure of the e-mail’s authenticity, said he has never had the pleasure of meeting or talking with the Focus on the Family founder.

“If in fact this e-mail … reflects his views, so be it,” Mr. Thompson said. “I have a lot of friends who I think are friends of his who have a high regard for me, and I’m very proud of that.”

Unhappy lawmaker

Rep. Elijah E. Cummings, Maryland Democrat and former head of the Congressional Black Caucus, is urging Republican presidential front-runners to participate in a forum next week focusing on minority issues.

The congressman from Baltimore sent a letter Wednesday to Republican Party General Chairman Mel Martinez, a U.S. senator from Florida, and Republican National Committee Chairman Mike Duncan, asking them to use their influence to persuade the top four Republican candidates to attend Thursday’s “All American Presidential Forum” at Morgan State University, a historically black college in Baltimore.

The forum will be moderated by black talk show host Tavis Smiley and will feature black and Hispanic journalists as panelists. It will be broadcast live on the Public Broadcasting Service.

Former New York Mayor Rudolph W. Giuliani, former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney, former Sen. Fred Thompson of Tennessee and Sen. John McCain of Arizona have said they cannot attend, citing scheduling conflicts. Mr. Cummings said he was “both dismayed and personally offended” by those decisions, the Associated Press reports.

Candidates who have confirmed include Sen. Sam Brownback of Kansas, former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee, Rep. Duncan Hunter of California, Rep. Ron Paul of Texas and Rep. Tom Tancredo of Colorado, according to the program’s Web site. Conservative activist Alan Keyes, who announced his candidacy last week, also said he will attend.

Dodd vs. Clinton

Democratic presidential candidateChristopher J. Dodd yesterday criticized rival Hillary Rodham Clinton’s rollout of her health care plan, saying she had mismanaged her effort to reshape the system as first lady, resulting in a major policy debacle.

Mrs. Clinton has described her 1990s attempt to remake the nation’s health care system in personal terms rather than acknowledging it for the policy failure it was, Mr. Dodd said in an interview with the Associated Press.

“It should be far more than just a parable of personal growth and maturation. This was about an issue that was critically important to the country,” Mr. Dodd said. “It was a major effort that failed. There were a lot of reasons that it failed, not the least of which it was mismanaged terribly at the time.”

Mrs. Clinton, a senator from New York, announced a plan for universal health care this week, and has touted her first effort to reform health care as evidence of her experience dealing with the complex issue. She often tells audiences that she has the scars to show for that effort.

Mr. Dodd, a senator from Connecticut, took issue with that approach.

“Not everyone succeeds in everything they try to do. But if you’re going to highlight experiences, they ought to reflect the ability to produce results rather than what you tried and failed at,” he said.

Johanns leaving

President Bush yesterday announced that Agriculture Secretary Mike Johanns is leaving the Cabinet to return to Nebraska, where he is expected to run for the U.S. Senate.

The president said Mr. Johanns “brought focus and energy to the department” but was “serious about going home and possibly serving the nation in a different capacity.”

Mr. Bush, who announced Mr. Johanns’ departure at a Rose Garden ceremony, said Deputy Agriculture Secretary Charles Conner would take over as acting secretary.

Several state officials said Mr. Johanns is expected to seek the Senate seat being vacated at the end of next year by Republican Sen. Chuck Hagel.

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

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