- The Washington Times - Thursday, January 3, 2008

Hillary’s problem

Hillary Clinton leads in most late polls of Iowa, if only narrowly. Yet she will not place first. She may not even place second,” David Freddoso writes at National Review Online (www.nationalreview.com).

“The reason lies buried in the Democratic caucus process, and it stems from the fact that Hillary Clinton is hardly anyone’s second choice for the Democratic nomination,” Mr. Freddoso said.

“Clinton could conceivably win her party’s nomination without Iowa, but it would be difficult. A loss [tonight] would obviously destroy her aura of inevitability and weaken her in other states. A bad enough loss would deprive her of a rebound in New Hampshire, where she currently leads Illinois Sen. Barack Obama by the narrowest of margins.

“Michigan’s Democratic primary one week later will be meaningless — Clinton and former Alaska Sen. Mike Gravel are the only candidates on the ballot there. … Then comes Nevada, where Clinton’s large lead in the polls might not survive surprise defeats in the first two states, and South Carolina, where she and Obama are essentially tied.”

Blogs vs. Huck

Conservative bloggers aren’t exactly thrilled with Mike Huckabee’s Republican presidential candidacy — to the point of promising to vote for Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton instead.

“Not that what one blogger thinks matters that much, but if Huckabee gets the nomination, I’m voting Democratic,” writes the conservative blogger known as Ace of Spaces (www.ace.mu.nu).

“It’s not just an idle threat; I just won’t vote for him and in fact won’t even vote third party or stay home. I’ll vote for the Democratic candidate, even Hillary. I won’t be a party to selling out everything the party is supposed to stand for to a liberal ideology. If we’re going to have eight years of liberal rule, I’d rather the Democratic Party be governing, so at least they can take the blame. And, quite frankly, Hillary is to the right of Huckabee on most issues.”

Dan Riehl (RiehlWorldView.com) seconded that emotion: “I’m surprised to see Ace say he’d vote for Hillary before Huckabee. The fact is, I have been thinking about this for days and reached the very same conclusion last night. … I am done voting for Republicans who don’t represent what I believe in, low taxes and small government.”

Warning letters

Several Iowa pastors who support Republican Mike Huckabee for president have received anonymous letters warning them that getting involved in politics could endanger their churches’ tax-exempt status, the Associated Press reports.

Two letters without return addresses were sent to the Rev. Brad Sherman of Solid Rock Christian Church in Coralville. The first arrived a couple weeks ago and warned that he could be prosecuted for his support of Mr. Huckabee, an ordained Southern Baptist minister.

“I just laughed,” Mr. Sherman said. “Somebody is trying to intimidate Christians from getting involved.”

The Rev. Kevin Hollinger of First Baptist Church in Algona has received three similar letters. The Rev. Rex Deckard of Calvary Apostolic Church in Des Moines has received nine letters, including three yesterday.

Huckabee spokesman Jim Harris said the campaign was aware of the letters and “would not rule out that we would ask for a criminal investigation.”

Hush-hush

“As 2007 drew to a close, embarrassed journalists sought to play down American military successes and avoided questioning Democratic presidential contenders about their predictions of inevitable failure in Iraq,” New York Post columnist Ralph Peters writes.

“Magically, Iraq disappeared from the headlines — except on those rare occasions when a problem could be reported. At the close of a year of stunning progress, media stories on New Year’s Eve leapt to report that 2007 had been the deadliest year for U.S. troops,” Mr. Peters said.

“You had to read deep into the columns to learn that those casualties occurred in the first half of 2007, as we battled and defeated the terrorists and militias — or that, in recent months, American and Iraqi casualties have plummeted as a relative peace broke out.

“Still, all that was just hushing up dirty family secrets in the media clan and an effort by left-leaning journalists and editors to protect the politicians they favor.”

Romney’s pledge

Republican Mitt Romney said yesterday that if elected president he and his wife will not embarrass the nation by their conduct in the White House as happened in “the Clinton years.”

In an interview on CNN, Mr. Romney was asked about comments he made at recent house parties in Iowa that he and his wife, Ann, would not embarrass the nation in the White House.

“We’ll try and represent ourselves and our nation well also to our kids because I think, I think kids watch the White House and there have been failures in the past in the White House — if you go back to the Clinton years and recognize that — that I think had an enormous impact on the culture of our country,” Mr. Romney said. “And we’ll do our very best, our whole family will to — well, if we can’t be perfect, we’ll do our best to uphold and to be a good example for the kinds of values I think people expect from our leaders.”

Mr. Romney also said that in his comments he was “not referring to anybody, referring to ourselves. We will do our very best to uphold the kind of values that people expect of a White House couple.”

Obama’s lobbyist

A former South Carolina governor who now runs a lobbying and consulting firm endorsed Democratic White House hopeful Barack Obama yesterday, despite the Illinois senator’s constant criticism of lobbyists.

Former Gov. Jim Hodges, who served one term before losing re-election to a Republican, brushed aside the apparent inconsistency, saying he had just one federal lobbying client.

“It deals with federal home loan banks, so it’s not exactly one of those that’s been controversial,” Mr. Hodges, a co-chairman of Mr. Obama’s national campaign, told the Associated Press after making his endorsement. “It’s a program to try to get more liquidity to community banks.”

The Center for Responsive Politics shows Hodges Consulting Group is registered to lobby for Hillenbrand Partners, a Chicago-based company that does business with the Federal Home Loan Bank in Atlanta.

Mr. Obama has sworn off taking donations from Washington lobbyists and political action committees, while assailing rival Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton for not doing the same.

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

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