- The Washington Times - Monday, May 23, 2011

TRUMPED AGAIN

“Who knows if I did the right thing? I am not seeing a lot out of the Republican candidates. I can’t rule out anything. The country is so important and it’s so vital we choose the right person and at this moment I don’t see that person,” Donald Trump told Fox News on Monday, after insisting 24 hours earlier that he absolutely, positively was not going to run for the White House.

The recent comings and goings of Republican hopefuls in the presidential derby has given the billionaire pause. Along with everyone else, apparently. A National Review online survey of some 4,500 readers finds that 51 percent are “depressed” by the potential field of Republican presidential candidates, 31 percent are “indifferent” and a rare optimistic 18 percent are “excited.”

PAWLENTY-FIED

Aw. Shucks. An earnest Tim Pawlenty announced his intent to run for president at a town meeting in Iowa, vowing to unite dejected Republicans and run a campaign of truth. Heartland spin complete, Mr. Pawlenty is hurrying to Washington with practical talking points on his mind, however. He appears Wednesday at the Cato Institute, intent on wowing the libertarian enclave with a discussion titled “Limiting Government: What Washington Can Learn From Minnesota.”

And where’s candidate Newt Gingrich as Mr. Pawlenty makes his big foray inside the Beltway? When the former Minnesota governor takes to the podium, Mr. Gingrich will be appearing at health center in Derry, N.H., followed by a visit to the home of Granite State political power broker Ovide Lamontagne in Manchester. Potential hopeful Jon Huntsman Jr., meanwhile, has finished his 11-town tour of New Hampshire, described by a spokesman as “high energy and lots of access.”

PRO-LIFERS GET BUSY

The partisan divide over abortion remains substantial. A new Gallup poll finds that 51 percent of Americans say the practice is “morally wrong.” The number is 74 percent among Republicans and 36 percent among Democrats. In addition, 61 percent overall say abortion should be legal only in “none or a few” circumstances; 79 percent of Republicans and 44 percent of Democrats agree with that. Just under half of all Americans - 49 percent - describe themselves as pro-choice; 68 percent of Democrats say the same. Forty five percent overall are pro-life; 67 percent of Republicans agree.

Activists, meanwhile, are mobilizing.

“The 2012 election cycle is already under way, and rightly so. It is never too early to prepare and mobilize to elect pro-life candidates. Therefore, Priests for Life is once again announcing the ‘Vote Pro-life Coalition,’ which will unite organizations, churches, and activists across the country to make a difference at the voting booth for the cause of life,” says the Rev. Frank Pavone, national director of the New York group.

PRAYING FOR HEALTH

Maybe Americans don’t understand health care reform, but they get the faith side of things. “Praying about health issues dramatically increased among American adults over the past three decades, rising 36 percent between 1999 and 2007,” according to an American Psychological Association study that analyzed Centers for Disease Control and Prevention response data from more than 53,000 people.

Prayer and meditation among the ailing, the recovering and those in good health has remained constant during the study period, says lead author Amy Wachholtz. Women pray more for their health than men, the research found, along with blacks, married people and those who had a health change, for better or worse.

“We’re seeing a wide variety of prayer use among people with good income and access to medical care. People are not exchanging health insurance for prayer,” she adds.

STEELE GRIP

Fox News? Nah. Former Republican National Committee Chairman Michael S. Steele has signed on as official MSNBC “political analyst,” promising he will “engage a diverse audience” and be spirited about it. What does it all mean?

“It’s not like MSNBC has no other Republicans in its pundit ranks, the chief example being ‘Morning Joe’s‘ Joe Scarborough. But it will be interesting to see if Steele presents himself as a GOP analyst/loyalist, a la Fox’s Karl Rove, or moves from his partisan past,” observes Time magazine media analyst James Poniewozik.

GIPPER GRIP

Yes, Ronald Reagan can still pull in a mighty crowd. Assembling Tuesday evening for a centennial gala at where-else-but the Ronald Reagan International Center, just a few blocks from the White House:

Polish Solidarity co-founder Lech Walesa; U.S. Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates; British Secretary of State for Defense Liam Fox; Sen. Orrin Hatch, Utah Republican; Sen. Dianne Feinstein, California Democrat; General Electric Foundation Chairman Jeffrey Immelt; and Ronald Reagan Presidential Foundation Chairman Fred Ryan. The emcees for the night: NBC News correspondent Andrea Mitchell and CNBC anchor Lawrence Kudlow.

POLL DU JOUR

• 57 percent of U.S. voters think President Obama will be re-elected president in 2012.

• 34 percent of Republicans, 41 percent of conservatives, 78 percent of Democrats and 71 percent of liberals agree.

• 36 percent overall say Mr. Obama will not be re-elected.

• 60 percent of Republicans, 53 percent of conservatives, 16 percent of Democrats and 21 percent of liberals agree.

• 50 percent overall say Mr. Obama “deserves” to be re-elected.

• 12 percent of Republicans, 28 percent of conservatives, 85 percent of Democrats and 73 percent of liberals agree.

• 43 percent overall say the country “probably will be better off with someone else.”

• 82 percent of Republicans, 66 percent of conservatives, 11 percent of Democrats and 20 percent of liberals agree.

Source: A Fox News poll of 910 registered voters conducted May 15 to 17.

First person accounts, secondhand knowledge to jharper@ washingtontimes.com.

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