- The Washington Times - Friday, December 18, 2009

Brady issue

A 2006 endorsement and robocall from the Brady Campaign isn’t the kind of thing Republican Danny Tarkanian wants coming up in his 2010 bid to unseat Nevada’s senior senator, Harry Reid, a Democrat who won an endorsement from the National Rifle Association in his last election.

But Mr. Tarkanian has only one person to blame: his mom.

The Tarkanian campaign initially dismissed questions about the little-noticed 2006 endorsement that the gun-control group gave Mr. Tarkanian in his unsuccessful race for secretary of state in 2006. The Brady Campaign also recorded robocalls urging Nevada voters to support him.

James Fisfis, Tarkanian campaign manager, suggested the endorsement and robocalls were a dirty campaign tactic meant to discredit Mr. Tarkanian’s support for gun rights because, as he told The Washington Times, “a Brady call in Nevada is not a positive call.”

Mr. Tarkanian “is a lifetime member of the National Rifle Association and has never reached out to the Brady Campaign,” Mr. Fisfis said. He said later that Dan Burdish, a consultant who now works for Republican primary opponent Sue Lowden, had “freelanced” by making arrangements for the call without Mr. Tarkanian’s knowledge.

Brady Campaign President Paul Helmke also confirmed that Mr. Burdish, then an unpaid adviser for Mr. Tarkanian, had worked with his group, even asking group founder Sarah Brady’s mispronunciation of “Nevada” be edited out of the call.

But, Mr. Helmke said, “We weren’t doing this on our own - we were asked to do it by somebody who was with the campaign - and they even went so far to edit the robocall.”

When reached by phone, however, Mr. Burdish, now Mrs. Lowden’s political director, said Mr. Tarkanian’s mother had asked him to work with the Brady Campaign on the endorsement.

“Lois Tarkanian, who is Danny’s mother, came up with everything,” he said. “Danny, as far as I know, knew nothing about it … Lois contacted me asking if I would help her.”

The Lowden campaign, which is eager to draw attention to this issue, said Nevada voters need more information about the endorsement and Mr. Tarkanian’s involvement.

“Nevada is a very pro-gun, pro-Second Amendment state, and I think voters have every right to pin Danny Tarkanian down on his past campaign coordination with the Brady Campaign and what it means today,” said Lowden campaign manager Robert Uithoven.

Tark’s secret weapon

Team Tarkanian, for its part, intends to keep stressing its support for guns, which may include a moose hunt down the road.

Campaign spokesman James Fisfis said that former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin’s father, Charles R. Heath, had been campaigning on behalf of Danny Tarkanian and agreed to take him moose hunting as a way of burnishing Mr. Tarkanian’s commitment to gun rights.

“Our family’s love for moose-hunting is well-known,” said Mr. Heath and his son Charles, who is Mrs. Palin’s brother, in a statement passed to The Washington Times from Mr. Fisfis. “One of the reasons our family campaigned for Danny Tarkanian is his strong commitment to protecting the constitutional rights of gun owners. If we can drag Danny off the campaign trail, we’re going to go hunting together.”

Getting through

Concerned Women for America President Wendy Wright has a message for President Obama. She just had some problems finding the right person to give it to.

She crafted a letter, addressed to the Honorable Barack H. Obama, asking him to denounce a Chinese delegate at the U.N.’s conference on climate change who proposed reducing carbon-dioxide emissions by limiting the number of children families could have.

The delegate, Zhao Baige, who is the vice minister of China’s National Population and Family Planning Commission, has promoted population control as a way to reduce carbon-dioxide emissions, telling the China Daily recently that the government’s one-child policy has resulted in 400 million fewer births and 18 million tons less in annual carbon-dioxide emissions.

CWA objects to abortion and population control, so the group wanted to send a message to Mr. Obama before he went to the conference.

“As documented by the U.S. Congress and State Department, China relies on forcibly aborting women and employs gruesome methods to reduce the number of babies who survive birth,” Miss Wright wrote. “The United States cannot remain silent at a conference while another country advocates forced abortions as a legitimate means of caring for the environment.”

But, CWA says it had some trouble figuring out whom to send the letter to. “The response we got when we asked other groups and congressional staff for a contact was laughter,” Miss Wright says.

All is well that ends well, though. A White House staffer e-mailed to accept CWA’s letter shortly after being asked about it by The Washington Times.

CWA is now working on drawing attention to then-first lady Hillary Rodham Clinton’s 1994 condemnation of China’s one-child policy. The group would like Mrs. Clinton to address the issue again as secretary of state during her Copenhagen visit.

Amanda Carpenter can be reached at acarpenter @washingtontimes.com.

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