- The Washington Times - Wednesday, August 11, 2010

SENATE

Reid questions GOP’s Hispanic support

LAS VEGAS | Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid says he cannot understand why Hispanics would vote for Republicans, a remark that drew immediate criticism from Republicans.

Speaking at an event promoting English-language education, Mr. Reid on Tuesday took a swipe at Republicans in Washington, whom he blames for blocking legislation to overhaul the immigration system. The top Senate Democrat said the GOP’s record should dissuade Hispanic voters from supporting Republicans.

“I don’t know how anyone of Hispanic heritage could be a Republican, OK?” Mr. Reid said in a video posted online and circulated by Republicans. “Do I need to say more?”

Republicans assailed the comments.

“He is making this a race issue. It isn’t. This is a border security issue,” said Bob Ruckman, chairman of the Clark County Republican Party. “Reid is fear-mongering, appealing to the Hispanic voters by insulting their intelligence and reverting to group-think politics.”

Mr. Reid’s campaign stood by the comments, saying his “contention was simply that he doesn’t understand how anyone, Hispanic or otherwise, would vote for Republican candidates” and cited GOP opposition to a $26 billion bill to protect 300,000 teachers, police and others from election-year layoffs.

Mr. Reid is in a close race with Republican Sharron Angle.

WHITE HOUSE

Gibbs stands by remarks - sort of

White House press secretary Robert Gibbs said Wednesday he might have said things differently when he lashed out at liberals he called the “professional left” and suggested some of them should be tested for drug use.

But he told his daily White house briefing that he’s certainly not leaving his job over the remark, as at least one Democratic congressman has suggested.

He also stuck to his line that President Obama has accomplished or made great strides on key goals and promises despite criticism from some liberals that he has not done enough.

Mr. Gibbs found himself in hot water with some liberals after his remarks in an interview with the Hill newspaper. The spokesman said liberals who likened Mr. Obama to former President George W. Bush on many policies should be “drug tested.”

Rep. Keith Ellison, Minnesota Democrat, suggested Mr. Gibbs should resign.

VICE PRESIDENCY

Air Force Two in minor incident

Air Force Two, with Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr. aboard, was involved in a minor accident with no injuries Wednesday morning at a Long Island airport.

A small private plane parked nearby was lifted a few feet into the air by the jet wash from Mr. Biden’s plane as it taxied to take off from Francis S. Gabreski Airport, said Air Force spokeswoman Maj. Michelle Lai.

The left wing of the Piper Cub was damaged, but no one was on board, Maj. Lai said. Mr. Biden’s 757 took off with those on board apparently unaware of what had happened.

Mr. Biden was returning to Washington from vacation, his office said. The airport is in Westhampton Beach, N.Y.

An investigation will be conducted, including determining the cost of the damage to the Piper and whose responsibility it will be to pay, Maj. Lai said. The damaged light craft belongs to an aerial media company.

Last week, two New York City police motorcycles got into a accident while escorting Mr. Biden to John F. Kennedy International Airport, but Mr. Biden’s vehicle was not involved and no officers were seriously hurt.

MINNESOTA

Dayton, Emmer vie for governor

MINNEAPOLIS | Minnesota voters will have a sharp contrast when they choose a replacement for Republican Gov. Tim Pawlenty in November.

Mark Dayton won the Democratic nomination Tuesday in a bid to rebuild a political career scarred by a frustrating six years in the U.S. Senate. He ran hard left in a state that hasn’t had a Democratic governor in two decades.

Now he’ll face Republican Tom Emmer, a conservative state legislator who coasted to the GOP nomination after Mr. Pawlenty didn’t seek a third term.

Mr. Dayton promises a new top tax bracket to help deal with a massive deficit. Mr. Emmer touts spending cuts alone.

Independence Party candidate Tom Horner is a potential complication for both sides. The third party’s most famous member was Jesse Ventura, elected governor in 1998, when the IP was known as the Reform Party.

GEORGIA

Senate candidate talks about race

ATLANTA | A Democratic U.S. Senate candidate from Georgia says he used to be suspicious of white people because he never spoke to one his age until his all-black high school consolidated with an all-white one when he was 18.

Michael Thurmond, 57, said those suspicions dissipated as he interacted with whites at his Athens, Ga., school.

Before that, he said, “the only white friend I had was on TV Beaver,” from “Leave It to Beaver.”

Mr. Thurmond made the remarks in a keynote speech Tuesday at a diversity conference sponsored by the U.S. Department of Agriculture in Washington.

The USDA last month forced employee Shirley Sherrod to resign from her Georgia position when a blogger posted an excerpted video that made her appear racist. Later it was shown that her remarks were taken out of context, and officials asked her to return.

SENATE

Johnson to remain hospitalized

SIOUX FALLS, S.D. | Sen. Tim Johnson will remain in a Sioux Falls hospital a few more days but is expected to make a full recovery from gallbladder surgery.

Doctors at Avera McKennan Hospital said Wednesday that Mr. Johnson remained on an antibiotic but was doing well and feeling better.

The South Dakota Democrat said he has been up and moving around his room and looks forward to getting home.

Mr. Johnson was admitted Sunday with a high fever and underwent surgery to remove his gallbladder on Tuesday.

Doctors have said Mr. Johnson’s current ailments are not related to a life-threatening brain hemorrhage he suffered about four years ago.

MARYLAND

O’Malley fundraising hits $6.7 million

ANNAPOLIS | Gov. Martin O’Malley’s campaign is reporting it has more than $6.7 million in the bank.

The campaign reported Wednesday it has raised $3.3 million in the past four months.

Mr. O’Malley, a Democrat, reported having about $5.1 million cash on hand for the same period in the 2006 election cycle.

Republican Robert L. Ehrlich Jr., who is running in a rematch against Mr. O’Malley, has not yet disclosed how much money his campaign has on hand for this race.

DISTRICT

Candidates for mayor report on spending

District Mayor Adrian M. Fenty says he spent nearly $2 million over the past two months on his re-election campaign, and he still has about that much money left.

The candidates for mayor reported Monday on the amount of money they had raised and spent over the last two months. Mr. Fenty reported raising approximately $308,000 from June to the start of August. To date, he has raised about $4.7 million, and in the past two months he spent about $1.9 million on the campaign. He has about the same amount remaining.

Mr. Fenty’s main opponent, Council Chairman Vincent C. Gray, reported raising about $708,000 in the last period. His campaign says that brings his total amount raised to about $1.3 million. He has about $690,000 on hand.

Both men are Democrats and face each other in a Sept. 14 primary.

From wire dispatches and staff reports