- The Washington Times - Monday, December 21, 2009

Carter letter

Former Rep. Rob Simmons, who is competing with Linda McMahon for the Republican nomination in Connecticut’s 2010 Senate race, may be former Democratic President Jimmy Carter’s biggest Republican fan.

In 2005, Mr. Simmons wrote a letter, on congressional letterhead, showering Mr. Carter with praise, which the McMahon campaign is now using to question Mr. Simmons’ conservative credentials.

In the letter, dated Sept. 22, 2005, Mr. Simmons tells Mr. Carter that he and his wife, Heidi, were proud to vote for him. “We felt you had the courage of your convictions, and we were very pleased when you won,” Mr. Simmons said. He then thanks the former president for opposing the closure of Connecticut’s Naval Submarine Base New London, saying that it was “an extraordinary act of patriotism.”

“I can only say, Mr. President, that the courage, character and integrity you has shown over the many years of your extraordinary career makes us all proud to have voted for you so many years ago, and makes us proud to be Americans,” the letter concludes. “And when we think back to Admiral Hymen Rickover’s question to you, ‘Why not the best?’ we all answer with enthusiasm and conviction, ‘Jimmy Carter is the best.’ ”

In his own handwriting near his signature at the bottom of the letter, Mr. Simmons added, “Thanks so much in all you have done.”

The Simmons campaign says the letter is not a blanket endorsement of Mr. Carter’s policies.

“Rob’s praise was a specific reaction to his critical assistance with saving the sub base, and in no way, shape or form was an endorsement of any of Jimmy Carter’s antics,” a statement posted by the Simmons campaign on Sunday said.

Simmons staffers also noted that their boss voted for Mr. Carter “out of disgust with the Watergate fiasco” and later “enthusiastically” supported Republican Ronald Reagan in the 1980 election.

But the McMahon camp says the letter, taken with past support for the Employee Free Choice Act - a bill that would make it easier for unions to organize - climate change legislation and abortion, is problematic.

“If Rob Simmons’ support for card check, cap and trade and partial-birth abortion doesn’t give conservatives pause, his effusive praise for Jimmy Carter certainly should,” Ed Patru, a spokesman for the McMahon campaign, told The Washington Times. “Simmons must be the only Republican in the country who both admits to having voted for Carter and is actually proud of it to this day.”

Grayson’s request

Rep. Alan Grayson, Florida Democrat, is calling on Attorney General Eric H. Holder Jr. to investigate and jail one of his critics.

Mr. Grayson wrote a four-page letter to Mr. Holder last week, saying that Angie Langley, founder of a Web site and committee created to raise money to unseat Mr. Grayson, is not one of his constituents and therefore has been acting in a “fundamentally deceptive and fraudulent” manner by promoting www.mycongressmanisnuts.com.

“Ms. Langley and the Committee should be fined, and Ms. Langley imprisoned for five years,” Mr. Grayson recommends.

Mr. Grayson says it’s Ms. Langley’s use of the word “my” that’s deceiving, although his letter also makes it clear he despises the effort altogether, calling it “utterly tasteless and juvenile.”

Huckabee watch

Former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee will enter the home turf of Sen. Ben Nelson, Nebraska Democrat, on Monday. The 2008 Republican presidential-primary contender is traveling to Omaha to demand that the senator switch his vote to “no” on health-care legislation.

Mr. Nelson has come under heavy fire from the Republican Party, which has singled out him and Sen. Bernard Sanders, Vermont independent, for agreeing to support the health care plan after they secured extra Medicaid funding for their states at the expense, the Republican Party argues, of taxpayers in the nation’s 48 other states.

‘Betrayed’

Nebraska Right to Life, a group that opposes abortion, says Sen. Ben Nelson, Nebraska Democrat, betrayed its members by supporting the health bill and falsely claiming it was pro-life.

NRL, a state affiliate of the National Right to Life Committee, endorsed Mr. Nelson in his 2006 election, but says his decision to vote for a bill that permits federal funding of abortion is “sobering.”

Julie Schmit-Albin said in a detailed statement posted on the NRL Web site, www.nerighttolife.org, that she received a “courtesy call” on Saturday evening from Nelson Chief of Staff Tim Baker to inform her a compromise had been reached. Mr. Baker promised it “would pass the pro-life muster,” she recalled.

“When I countered that we had no assurance of that because we were not allowed to review the language, I was reminded that this was merely a courtesy call, not a call for our input or approval,” Mrs. Schmit-Albin said.

The Senate bill permits insurance plans that cover abortion to be included in state exchanges that are subsidized with federal tax dollars. Pro-life advocates said this violates the long-standing Hyde Amendment, which prohibits federal funding of abortion.

“It is a very sobering day for myself personally and for pro-lifers across Nebraska and the nation,” Mrs. Schmit-Albin said. “Senator Nelson obliterated the hope of pro-life Americans who saw him as the last man standing between expansion of government funding of abortion and the Hyde Amendment.”

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

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