- The Washington Times - Wednesday, August 13, 2008

POLITICS

Landrieu declines to be Obama host

BATON ROUGE | Sen. Mary L. Landrieu, a Louisiana Democrat who faces a tough re-election, has had her name removed from a fundraiser announcement for presidential candidate Sen. Barack Obama.

Mrs. Landrieu will attend the “Lipstick, Laughter and Libations” fundraiser for Mr. Obama at a Washington restaurant next week, but she won’t help host it.

Mrs. Landrieu’s campaign said her name only was added to the online announcement of the fundraiser on Mr. Obama’s Web site as a mistake. Her Republican opponent’s campaign said she is trying to keep her distance from her party’s presidential candidate and removed her name after they pointed it out.

“She was never scheduled to host,” Landrieu campaign spokesman Scott Schneider said. “She is attending, and there was some sort of clerical error in which somebody said she was hosting, but she is not.”

A spokesman for Mrs. Landrieu’s Republican opponent, John Kennedy, said he believes the senator removed her name because she doesn’t want to be too closely connected with Mr. Obama in Louisiana, which has trended Republican in federal elections.

HOMELAND SECURITY

New unit to hunt for spies, terrorists

Concerns about foreign spies and terrorists has prompted the Homeland Security Department to set up its own counterintelligence division and require strict reporting from employees about foreign travel, according to a memo obtained by the Associated Press.

The new directive comes as the federal government increases its counterspy efforts across all agencies and raises the awareness of intelligence vulnerabilities in the private industry as well as in protecting government secrets.

The Homeland Security Department “is vulnerable to adversaries who seek information about our nation’s homeland defense programs, classified or unclassified,” Secretary Michael Chertoff wrote in the Aug. 4 memo to employees obtained by AP.

The agency, formed in 2003 after the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks, has about 216,000 employees and posts around the world.

CAMPAIGN

McCain pleases crowd with a ‘yes’

YORK, Pa. | Politicians often give long answers to short questions.

Republican presidential candidate Sen. John McCain did the opposite Tuesday when a woman challenged his conservative fervor.

Speaking to more than 2,000 people in York, Mr. McCain won deafening applause when he answered only “yes” to the woman, who read her statement from notes.

“We conservatives believe that you dismissed our serious quest for responsible, limited government,” she began. “In your quest for the presidency, we want to know if it is in you to become a passionate and forceful leader with a conservative agenda to fight the lure of socialistic programs promoted by Senator [Barack] Obama.”

Mr. McCain’s one-word answer surprised his inquisitor and pleased the crowd at the York Expo Center.

POLITICS

Former congressman endorses Obama

DES MOINES | A liberal former Republican congressman with a foreign policy background endorsed presidential candidate Sen. Barack Obama on Tuesday as the Democrat sought to show his appeal to members of both political parties.

Former Rep. Jim Leach of Iowa was among the Republicans the Obama campaign said were crossing party lines to support the Democrat.

The Illinois senator’s campaign said he also was being backed by Jim Whitaker, Republican mayor of Fairbanks North Star Borough, Alaska. The campaign did not release the names of other Republican supporters or the size of the group.

“I’m convinced that the national interest demands a new approach to our interaction with the world,” Mr. Leach, a foreign service officer before being elected to Congress, said in a conference call with reporters.

TRADE

Bush seen refusing to give up on pact

President Bush still thinks a world trade deal is possible despite a major setback last month and will continue pushing to get one, Agriculture Secretary Ed Schafer said Tuesday.

“I was with President Bush when we received word that there was an impasse, and his immediate response was ‘it’s not over yet. It’s not over yet, we can still do it,’” Mr. Schafer told Reuters news agency reporters and editors in an interview.

“I’m probably getting in trouble [for talking about Mr. Bush’s comments in a private meeting], but that was his response and that was his charge,” Mr. Schafer said.

CONVENTION

Pelosi, Obama’s wife to speak first night

DENVER | Michelle Obama and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi will be the featured first-night speakers at the Democratic National Convention, which also will include a videotaped message from Sen. Edward M. Kennedy of Massachusetts.

Mrs. Obama will be introduced by her brother, Craig Robinson, a former basketball star at Princeton and now coach at Oregon State, and her sister-in-law, Maya Soetoro-Ng, at the Pepsi Center on Aug. 25.

Other opening night speakers include Denver Mayor John Hickenlooper and Sen. Claire McCaskill of Missouri, an early Obama supporter, organizers said Tuesday.

Opening night also will feature a tribute to Mr. Kennedy, who has taped a five-minute video to air during the party gathering.

From wire dispatches and staff reports

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