- The Washington Times - Friday, January 18, 2008

Rudy gets his shot

“Former New York MayorRudolph W. Giuliani has taken quite a hit recently both in the national media and in national polls,” Stuart Rothenberg notes in Roll Call.

“Journalists have noted that his crowds during the first two weeks of January were small, leading some to conclude that the mayor’s presidential race may be over even before it has begun,” Mr. Rothenberg said.

“But as we’ve already seen a number of times during this presidential campaign, it’s wise not to jump to conclusions, and Giuliani’s strategy has not yet been tested. There’s no need for you to be the first on your block to write off the New Yorker.

Giuliani’s fading strength in the national polls, his eroded standing in Quinnipiac University’s Florida polling and his poor crowds recently stem from the same factor: He didn’t compete in the early contests, where most of the attention and all of the initial excitement was located.

“For many months, I’ve said that I thought Giuliani’s Florida/Feb. 5 strategy was both silly and plausible, and there is no reason to change that assessment at this point. . . .

“The crucial point is this: Giuliani didn’t fall in the national polls because Republican voters decided he doesn’t have the stuff to be president. He didn’t see his crowds thin because rank-and-file Republicans finally turned thumbs down on his more moderate social views (on abortion, gay rights or gun control). And he didn’t fall off the media’s national radar because Republicans remembered his friendship with Bernie Kerik or his messy personal life when he was still serving as mayor.

Giuliani’s star dimmed during the first half of January, not because he committed a gaffe but because he made himself irrelevant. When he becomes relevant at the end of January, both voters and the national media will once again turn to Rudy, and that’s when he’ll have his shot.”

Hillary’s coup

“At approximately 6 p.m. on Jan. 15, three hours before a Kumbaya interlude at the Democratic presidential debate in Las Vegas, I saw Al Sharpton defending Sen. Barack Obama from charges of youthful drug abuse,” Margaret Carlson writes at www.bloomberg.com.

“As we all know by now, the accusation arises from Obama’s own admission in his modern Horatio Alger tale, ‘Dreams From My Father,’ published long before he became a presidential candidate, that he tried cocaine as a teenager,” Miss Carlson said.

“The hoopla over this has validated the judgment of George W. Bush eight years ago to refuse to answer questions about his own alleged drug use, which many believe continued well beyond his teen years. This is why honesty isn’t considered the best policy by political consultants. But I digress.

“Sharpton has done things to redeem himself in recent years, but his presence is a one-way ticket back to Tawana Brawley, boycotts, shakedowns and good old-fashioned, in-your-face confrontational race-based politics. Seeing him in that box on TV, I realized that the Clintons had done what they needed to do to stop Obama’s historic surge in its tracks.

“From the start of his career, Obama wanted, and needed, to remove the race card from the political deck. …

“A cease-fire initiated by Obama was formalized into a peace agreement during a love fest at the debate. And why not? For Clinton’s campaign, it was Mission Accomplished, intentional or not. Obama was now the black candidate.”

Thompson’s view

Republican White House hopeful Fred Thompson made light of Federal Reserve Chairman Ben S. Bernanke’s call for a quick economic stimulus yesterday and said it might be best to leave the economy alone for now.

Mr. Thompson was answering questions in a restaurant in West Columbia, S.C., where Mr. Bernanke could be seen on a TV urging short-term relief to avert a recession. Mr. Thompson was asked what he would do.

“You could probably get a ‘Law & Order’ rerun on TNT there if you wanted to switch that around a little bit,” quipped the former senator, who acted on the series. When the host reminded him Mr. Bernanke is a South Carolina native, Mr. Thompson joked: “That looks a little boring to me. I don’t care.”

More seriously, he said he was not ready to embrace a stimulus package, the Associated Press reports.

“There’s a case to be made for that,” he said. “And it just requires strong heads at the table and not snap judgments, you know, by politicians on the road trying to think of something smart to say in 30 seconds.”

‘Too slow’

President Bush said yesterday the U.N. peacekeeping mission is moving too slowly in Sudan’s Darfur region, where more than 200,000 people have been killed in a conflict the president has labeled genocide.

Mr. Bush spoke in the Oval Office, where he met with Richard S. Williamson, the new special envoy for Sudan, Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice and other members of his national security team to discuss the 4½-year-old Darfur conflict, the Associated Press reports.

Mr. Williamson took the job Jan. 7, just a week after a joint African Union-U.N. force took over peacekeeping duties in Darfur on New Year’s Eve, despite chronic shortages of staff and equipment and less-than-adequate cooperation from the Sudanese government, which is accused of fomenting the violence.

“The United Nations considers the Darfur issue a central issue on its agenda,” Mr. Bush said. “We agree. The United States can help what has been a process, frankly, that has unfolded a little too slow for our liking.”

Asked whether the U.N. had any reaction to Mr. Bush’s comment that the Darfur peacekeeping mission was deploying too slowly, U.N. spokeswoman Michele Montas said: “I don’t at this point.”

Hitting ‘insiders’

Republican Mike Huckabee assailed political insiders who blew opportunities to fix Washington, a subtle dig at rivals Sen. John McCain and former Sen. Fred Thompson.

The former Arkansas governor did not name names as he campaigned yesterday at a steel plant in South Carolina, but it was clear he was talking about Mr. McCain, of Arizona, and Mr. Thompson, of Tennessee, who are competing against him in South Carolina’s primary tomorrow, the Associated Press reports.

“Every day, some Washington insider is coming down to South Carolina telling you not to vote for me,” Mr. Huckabee told about 125 people at the Nucor Steel plant in Berkeley. “My attitude is, if they were going to fix it, they should have already done it. Since they haven’t, the last thing we need is them going to the White House.”

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

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