- The Washington Times - Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Despite a hair-raising week, Republican presidential hopeful Newt Gingrich now bills himself as “the last conservative standing,” touting a crowded agenda that defies gleeful coverage claiming that he’s out of money and low on voter favorability. Mr. Gingrich campaigns Thursday in Delaware, hosting town halls and appearing on local talk radio. Then it’s on to the real big show.

On Friday, he arrives in St. Louis for the annual National Rifle Association convention, serving as a keynote speaker for the “Celebration of American Values Conference.” Mr. Gingrich has much company for the afternoon event. Also appearing: rival Mitt Romney, former-rival-turned-supporter Texas Gov. Rick Perry, Republican Sens. Roy Blunt and Chuck Grassley, House Majority Leader Eric Cantor, Rep. Darrell E. Issa, plus John Bolton, Ken Blackwell and Oliver North.

Still, the big convention is a family affair. Mr. Gingrich’s wife, Callista, also appears at the Women’s Leadership Luncheon on Friday for a public “conversation off the campaign trail,” organizers say. Her companion on the dais? That would be Mr. Romney’s wife, Ann.

HISTORIC MUDSLINGING

“A recession is when your neighbor loses his job. A depression is when you lose yours. And recovery is when Jimmy Carter loses his.”

Ronald Reagan on President Jimmy Carter, during the presidential campaign of 1980.

FOOD STAMP GAS

Rep. Allen B. West is disturbed that food stamps buy much more than food these days. “I happened to drive by a gas station in Pompano Beach, Fla., in the heart of Congressional District 22, the district I represent. In front of the gas station were large banners proclaiming, ‘We accept EBT SNAP cards.’ This is not something we should be proud to promote,” the Florida Republican says.

The aforementioned acronym stands for “Electronic Benefit Transfer Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program,” a system that allows state governments to provide food and cash benefits through a debit card. Originally created 48 years ago, the program was intended to provide funds for low-income families to buy healthy food, and ultimately boost domestic agriculture. The scope has grown, the lawmaker says.

“Now we see a growing number of businesses in this country, including sit-down and fast food restaurants, standalone and gas station convenience markets, and even pharmacies eager to accept SNAP benefits,” Mr. West observes, noting that since President Obama’s inauguration, the number of Americans receiving assistance has increased by 45 percent, to 46 million.

“The measure of success for our social safety net programs should be that fewer and fewer Americans must rely on them, not more and more,” he adds.

POLITICAL PROWESS

“How much do you know about political parties?” demands the Pew Research Center. Find out how you stand against the rest of America by taking the group’s official 13-question “News IQ” quiz here: http://pewresearch.org

BLOOMBERG MOMENT

The legal and cultural complexities following the fatal shooting of Trayvon Martin has taken yet another political turn. New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg has now launched a campaign to challenge “Stand Your Ground” laws that have passed in 25 states

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