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Inside the Beltway

- The Washington Times - Sunday, February 12, 2012

NEWT'S DREAM

Newt Gingrich is not done yet, despite gleeful pronouncements by pundits and foes who insist the Republican presidential hopeful is finished, kaput, washed up. As the campaign trail looms in a post-CPAC world, the nimble Mr. Gingrich has assembled a powerful, familiar and possibly remarkable group to see him along the increasingly steep and rocky way. It's his "Dream Team," the candidate says.

The newly minted Newt boosters who've formally signed on include Texas Gov. Rick Perry, Herman Cain, Fred Thompson, Michael Reagan, Iowa House Majority Leader Linda Upmeyer, J.C. Watts, pollster Kellyanne Conway and actor Chuck Norris. They are among the "fearless conservatives" to help Mr. Gingrich take on the "Saul Alinsky radicalism of the Obama administration," says campaign spokesman R.C. Hammond.

"Newt exemplifies the conservative principles my father championed. Strong national defense, lower taxes and smaller government," notes an adamant Mr. Reagan.

WHAT A PAIR

All's almost quiet on the campaign front. There are a mere two events of note today, on opposite ends of the nation in more ways than one. Presidential hopeful Rick Santorum hosts a free, public rally at a local history museum in Tacoma, Wash. Monday night. Mitt Romney, meanwhile, hosts an evening fundraiser at the Waldorf-Astoria in New York. The luxury hotel, incidentally, offers a $10,000-a-night, four bedroom presidential suite.

PUPPETS, CANDLELIGHT

The Occupy Wall Street crowd is about to lose some publicity unless they change their name to Occupy China for a few days. Tibetans are planning "a festival of protests" during China Vice President Xi Jinping's first official visit to the U.S. which begins on Monday. Among other things, the organizers plan a protest march from the Chinese Embassy to the White House, a mass Buddhist prayer offering, life-size puppets, solidarity rallies and candlelight vigils.

The visit comes as "the Chinese government has sealed Tibet off to foreigners and journalists after security forces opened fire on protesters calling for freedom and the return of the Dalai Lama," the coalition explains; it consists of four regional Tibetan interest groups. Chinese, Uyghur, Taiwanese and human rights groups will also march, they say.

But big puppets and candlelight? How can the Occupados resist?

OCCUPY OCCUPY

Some feisty conservatives plan to reinvent a park that has been until recently wall-to-wall with tents and camping lanterns. Welcome to the "Occupy Occupy" rally at high noon Monday on the eastern section of Freedom Plaza, the much contested headquarters for Occupy D.C.'s encampment, just blocks from the White House. The conservatives, however, have permission. The nonprofit National Center for Public Policy Research applied for and received a permit that allows them to stage midday events at the site every Sunday through mid-March

"We'll make our point, go home to beds we paid for ourselves every night, pick up our own trash, follow the law and be content that in a democratic republic such as our own, voters make the ultimate decisions, not a bunch of blackmailers," observes Amy Ridenour, chairman of the group.

"We have the same First Amendment rights as the Occupiers and any legitimate petitioner has access to our nation's public sites. This is what makes America great," said executive director and chief organizer David W. Almasi. "We will be making the case for economic freedom and American exceptionalism."

AN EDUCATION

"Do not follow me down the road to jihad. Go and get a good education in the West."

Osama Bin Laden's instructions to children and grandchildren, according to his brother-in-law Zakaria al-Sadah, in The Sunday London Times.

THE GUTS FACTOR

Republican presidential hopeful Mitt Romney has secured tidy victories at the primaries and dominated recent polls, including The Washington Times' own CPAC Straw Poll, released with much ado at the ultimate conservative tribal gathering this weekend.

But no matter what Mr. Romney does — even if he wears down-home jeans and delivers perfectly tailored messages — there are those who have dug in their heels and just refuse to buy it.

"Romney has shown that he can mouth the words conservatives use, but he has no gut-level emotional connection with the conservative movement and its ideas and policies says ConservativeHQ.com chairman Richard A. Viguerie, who hosted his preferred candidate Rick Santorum at a private luncheon for 90 conservative insiders during the endless CPAC weekend.

But back to Mr. Romney.

"To paraphrase a story about Mark Twain, one day his wife decided to repeat some of his more colorful four-letter words to embarrass him into cleaning up his language. After absorbing the barrage, the author thought for a moment and said, 'Honey, you've got the words right, but you just don't have the tune.' " Mr. Viguerie observes.

"After 50 years in the conservative movement, I can say with some authority, Mitt, you may have the words of conservatism right, but you just don't have the tune."

POLL DU JOUR

• 53 percent of Americans say China is the leading economic power in the world today.

• 54 percent of Republicans and 48 percent of Democrats agree.

• 33 percent say the U.S. is the leading economic power; 36 percent of Republicans and 36 percent of Democrats agree.

• 46 percent say China will be the world's leading economic power 20 years from now.

• 42 percent of Republicans and 37 percent of Democrats agree.

• 38 percent say the U.S. will be the leading economic power; 44 percent of Republicans and 42 percent of Democrats agree.

Source: A Gallup Poll of 1,029 U.S. adults conducted Feb. 2-5.

Dream teams, march routes, historic yarns to jharper@washingtontimes.com

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