- The Washington Times - Monday, July 21, 2008

POLITICS

Dobson takes 2nd look at McCain

Conservative Christian leader James Dobson has softened his stance against Republican presidential hopeful Sen. John McCain, saying he could reverse his position and endorse the Arizona senator despite serious misgivings.

“I never thought I would hear myself saying this,” Mr. Dobson said in a radio broadcast to air Monday. “… While I am not endorsing Senator John McCain, the possibility is there that I might.”

Mr. Dobson and other evangelical leaders unimpressed by Mr. McCain increasingly are taking a lesser-of-two-evils approach to the 2008 race. Mr. Dobson and his guest, Southern Baptist Theological Seminary president Albert Mohler, spend most of the pretaped Focus on the Family radio program criticizing Democratic candidate Sen. Barack Obama, getting to Mr. McCain at the very end.

In an advance copy provided to the Associated Press, Mr. Dobson said that while neither candidate is consistent with his views, the Arizona senator’s positions are closer by a wide margin.

“There’s nothing dishonorable in a person rethinking his or her positions, especially in a constantly changing political context,” Mr. Dobson said in a statement to AP. “Barack Obama contradicts and threatens everything I believe about the institution of the family and what is best for the nation. His radical positions on life, marriage and national security force me to re-evaluate the candidacy of our only other choice, John McCain.”

PENTAGON

Admiral frets over strike on Iran

Adm. Mike Mullen said Sunday he was concerned that any U.S. or Israeli strike on Iran carried a notable risk of more turmoil in the Middle East.

“I think it would be significant. I worry about it a lot,” Adm. Mullen, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, said on “Fox News Sunday.”

U.S. officials have downplayed fears of a military strike against Iran over its nuclear program, which Tehran says is for peaceful purposes. But Israel fears Iran is seeking to build atomic weapons, and speculation it would bomb Iranian nuclear installations has grown since a big Israeli air drill last month.

“I worry about the instability in that part of the world and … the possible unintended consequences of a strike like that,” Adm. Mullen said.

STATE DEPARTMENT

Rice compliments Obama on victory

Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice says it’s a remarkable accomplishment that a black politician is on track for his party’s presidential nomination.

Miss Rice said Democrat Sen. Barack Obama’s likely nomination shows the nation’s progress in race relations.

“I think it’s great, and I think it’s great for our country,” Miss Rice said of Mr. Obama’s candidacy.

Miss Rice noted that Colin L. Powell was the first black person to be America’s top diplomat. She is the second.

“It just shows that our country has been doing this for a while and it’s great that this last barrier perhaps, has also come down,” she said Sunday on CNN’s “Late Edition.” The interview was taped Friday.

Miss Rice made it clear that she doesn’t want to be considered for vice president. She said she wants to return to California and write a book about U.S. foreign policy after President Bush leaves office in January.

“Look, I’ve done my part, and I’ve got six months to sprint to the finish and then I have other things that I want to do,” she said. “There are issues that have come to concern me greatly. Some that I was concerned about before I came here, like the state of education in the United States, which I think is at the root of our competitiveness.”

POLITICS

Gore tiptoes on ‘fairness’ issue

Al Gore said Sunday that Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton’s campaign for the White House helped change society’s perception of women.

But the former vice president, who has endorsed Sen. Barack Obama, demurred when asked whether the New York senator was treated unfairly during the campaign because of her sex.

“I think that women often face these kinds of challenges, of course, in our society,” Mr. Gore said on NBC’s “Meet the Press.”

“But I think that she did an amazing job in changing that, as I think Senator Obama and Bill Richardson, where Hispanics are concerned, also made it possible for our country to move on into the 21st century and say, ‘Wait a minute, these old things that held us down in the past, we’re now within sight of a time when we can move beyond that,’” Mr. Gore said.

POLITICS

McCain’s task: Keep on spending

Faced with a spending cap for his fall campaign, Republican presidential candidate Sen. John McCain is aggressively spending more money than he is raising during summer months and methodically reducing his cash reserves.

Mr. McCain raised more than $21 million in June and spent nearly $26 million, the campaign reported Friday night. Mr. McCain eroded his cash on hand, ending the month with $27 million in the bank. He began the month with $31.6 million in hand.

According to filings with the Federal Election Commission, Mr. McCain spent more than $16 million on advertising during the month, about three-quarters of his total raised in June. That was five times more than he spent in May, when the Democratic presidential primary was still being contested by Sens. Barack Obama and Hillary Rodham Clinton. Mr. Obama clinched the Democratic nomination June 3.

Mr. McCain plans to accept public financing for the general election - an $84 million infusion that prevents him from raising private money for his fall campaign. That means he has to spend all the money he raises between now and the Republican national convention in early September.

POLITICS

No surprise: Green groups back Obama

In an election all about change, environmental groups are doing the usual - endorsing the Democratic presidential candidate.

The League of Conservation Voters will become the latest green group to back Democrat Sen. Barack Obama in five separate events across the country Monday. Its pick shouldn’t be a surprise. Its scorecard of votes on environmental issues for the first session of the current Congress gave Mr. Obama a score of 67 and Republican Sen. John McCain a zero. The Arizona senator did not show up for any of the votes the group scored.

“When you look specifically at the twin challenges of cutting global warming pollution and moving toward a clean energy future, on those issues Barack Obama has the most comprehensive plan we have ever seen for a presidential nominee,” said league president Gene Karpinsky. The league has endorsed presidential candidates since the early 1980s, but not once has it selected a Republican.

Friends of the Earth and the Sierra Club announced their support for Mr. Obama earlier this year, citing Mr. McCain’s support for more offshore drilling, expanding nuclear power and a gas tax holiday. Neither group has ever backed a Republican presidential candidate.

From wire dispatches and staff reports

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