- The Washington Times - Thursday, June 23, 2011

STAGE LEFT

Public affairs wizards remain on duty following President Obama’s announcement of a military draw-down in Afghanistan, eager to reassure Americans that the strategy is not a “rush to the exits,” at the expense of hard-won gains in the region. But brace for the campaign pitch. Mr. Obama’s nimble handlers are parlaying the withdrawal into a nice set of talking points that prove we can leave Afghanistan, shore up the economy and still outwit al Qaeda. And geez, who wouldn’t want a leader who can do all that?

Mr. Obama was laying out his re-election theme as a commander in chief who ended George W. Bush’s wars and brought the troops home from Iraq and Afghanistan,” says a Wall Street Journal editorial. “He could bring the troops home from Iraq because Mr. Bush had already won the surge before Mr. Obama took office. Let’s hope America’s generals can still conjure a similar success from Afghanistan, despite a pre-empted surge and a presidential march to the exits.”

Meanwhile, Republicans ponder the electability of an ever-shifting field of presidential nominees. At least there’s least one motto to fit all. The “Anyone but Obama 2012” t-shirt ($15) is available from http://americantees.com, which advises, “Whoever wins will surely be an improvement. Order this shirt if you don’t care who wins - as long as it’s someone other than Barack Obama.”

HOLA AMERICA

Latinos will turn out in “record numbers” in the 2012 presidential election, with at least 12.2 million casting ballots, according to projections from the National Association of Latino Elected and Appointed Officials Educational Fund; Executive Director Arturo Vargas predicts the voting bloc will “reshape the nation’s political map.”

The Latino voters are concentrated in Arizona, California, Colorado, Florida, Illinois, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York and Texas. California leads in numbers - 3.9 million, an increase of 32 percent compared with the 2008 election. And while there are only 433,000 Latino voters in Illinois, it had the largest increase of voters, up by 38 percent. Mr. Vargas also notes that at least one in five voters will be Latino in California, New Mexico, and Texas.

HUNTSMAN GOES HOLLYWOOD

While his campaign peers are courting the grass-roots vote in Iowa and New Hampshire, presidential hopeful Jon Huntsman Jr. is wooing the elusive approval of Hollywood Republicans. He’ll market himself in San Diego on Sunday, but more important, he appears at the 116-year-old Jonathan Club in Los Angeles on Monday for a fundraiser that includes a “VIP cocktail reception,” complete with a $2,500 entry fee.

Mr. Huntsman already has a friend - Emmy-winning producer Craig Haffner, who played host to the former ambassador in Tinseltown last month. There’s a Gipper factor, too, beyond the fact that Mr. Huntsman announced his White House intent near the Statue of Liberty, on the very spot where Ronald Reaganrevealed his own 1980 campaign. The Jonathan Club is also home to the Ronald Reagan Distinguished American Award, and yes, there’s a “Reagan Room.”

THE PERSISTENCE OF ROMNEY-RUBIO

At least, by the headlines over the past 14 months:

“Romney backs Rubio” (MSNBC, April 16, 2010)

“Romney’s appearance with Rubio foreshadows 2012 campaign” (Tampa Bay Tribune, Oct. 1, 2010)

“Romney-Rubio: the only team that can beat Obama” (Politico, Feb. 11)

“Romney/Rubio best chance for Republicans” (Redstate.com, June 2)

“Drafting Rubio.” (The Wall Street Journal, June 22)

THE OVERLOOKED BRISTOL

Much press coverage of Bristol Palin’s new memoir, “Not Afraid of Life” wallows in her relationship with Levi Johnston, father of her toddler son, a nude model and yes, author of an upcoming tell-all book about the Palin family. Journalists revel in tales of the couple, inebriated, and their amorous camping trip, they are giddy that Miss Palin called Mr. Johnston a “gnat” and his Playgirl photo spread “puke.”

Well, OK.

But no one paid to much attention to a certain honesty in Sarah Palin’s 20-year-old daughter. Here’s evidence of that, right from Page 253:

“I’m not a role model, a dancer or a preacher. I’m just a normal girl who couldn’t hide her problems and learned a few lessons on the way. Namely, that not being afraid of life’s imperfections and complexity is the first step towards truly living it. Oh, and it helps to reach out to the only one who truly offers hope in this world.

“No, not President Obama.

“Isaiah 41:10 says, ‘Fear not, for I am with you; be not dismayed, for I am your God; I will strengthen you, I will help you, I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.”

POLL DU JOUR

• 78 percent of conservatives and 73 percent of Republicans think the average reporter is “more liberal than they are.”

• 46 percent of U.S. voters overall and 20 percent of Democrats agree.

• 67 percent of voters overall believe that, in political campaigns, most reporters “try to help the candidate they want to win.”

• 59 percent of Republicans agree; 43 percent of Democrats disagree.

• 21 percent of voters overall say reporters emphasize unbiased coverage, 12 percent are not sure.

• 48 percent overall say most reporters hold back information to help their preferred candidate win.

• 59 percent of Republicans agree; 43 percent of Democrats disagree.

Source: A Rasmussen reports survey of 1,000 likely voters conducted June 20-21.

Tipline always open at jharper@washingtontimes.com. Follow the column at twitter.com/harperbulletin

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