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Inside the Beltway: Romney goes Hollywood

- The Washington Times - Tuesday, February 28, 2012

There are some eight months left in the 2012 presidential race, so brace for impact: The big shots are charging up glittering campaign machines, worthy of the silver screen. President Obama already has wooed Tinseltown and much of California, even as his strategists huddle to produce a blockbuster voter outreach, maybe in 3-D.

But wait. Mitt Romney is not to be outdone. On March 27, the Republican hopeful puts on his best matinee idol demeanor and heads to Hollywood for a major fundraiser with Harry Sloan, chairman of Global Eagle Acquisition Corp., a media and entertainment concern, and the former CEO of Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer. Mr. Sloan has deep GOP roots. In 1987, President Reagan appointed him to the President's Advisory Council on Trade and Policy Negotiations.

Can the Romney/Sloan alliance rally and energize Hollywood conservatives and GOPers? Could be.

"Hollywood's most prominent Republicans may have been tight-fisted so far in the presidential race, with only a handful of moguls such as Terry Semel and Lionsgate Vice-Chairman Michael Burns cutting checks, but that could change as the field narrows," writes Brent Lang, film reporter for the Los Angeles-based the Wrap, which first reported the upcoming fundraiser.

McCAIN WON'T GO

"This new movie that comes out, people ask me if I'm gonna watch it. I tell them it'll be a cold day in Gila Bend, Ariz."

(Sen. John McCain on whether he plans to watch "Game Change," HBO's upcoming drama based on the 2008 election, featuring Ed Harris portraying the Arizona Republican and Julianne Moore as a carefully contrived Sarah Palin.)

SANTORUM GOES DEMOCRAT

"We're selling to not just Republicans, but Republicans and Democrats — Reagan Democrats, who are the key for us winning Ohio, and Pennsylvania, and Michigan."

(Republican presidential hopeful Rick Santorum, during a campaign stop Tuesday in Perrysville, Ohio.)

GINGRICH GOES TACTICAL

High-profile advisers to Republican hopeful Newt Gingrich have contacted editors and publishers at major newspapers in five Super Tuesday states with a bold "call to conscience" — but no solicitation of endorsement, they say. Former congressmen J.C. Watts and Robert Walker penned a letter outlining Mitt Romney's "falsehoods," complete with graphics, stats and drama.

"The purpose of this letter is to ask you to look at the facts we include and if you agree about the threat they pose to the integrity of the electoral process we ask that you use the mighty voice of America's newspapers to warn voters about Gov. Romney's attempt to use money and mendacity to secure the Republican nomination," the pair write.

"We ask you to speak out against a candidate with a great sense of entitlement and very little sense of accountability. We ask you to protest a candidacy and a campaign without a conscience. We ask you to censure and thwart a way of politics that if left unchallenged could corrupt our electoral process and democratic system for a generation," Mssrs. Watts and Walker say in the letter, on its way to newspapers in Washington, Georgia, Tennessee, Oklahoma and Ohio.

THE NEW IRAQ

The Embassy of Iraq opens its doors next week to the Young Professional Cultural Society, which advises potential revelers, "Regardless of your political views over the past several years, Iraq is now a close friend of the United States."

The big draw is the new ambassador, Jabir Habeb, who is ready to "discuss the future of U.S.-Iraq relations," the group says, though they stipulate, "This is not a political event. This is not an endorsement of either President Bush's or President Obama's position on U.S. involvement. Rather, this is a historic opportunity to experience the diplomats and historic culture of Iraq."

The menu? It includes three salads composed of eggplant and bell pepper, sumac, and cauliflower combined with fennel. Also included: tepsi baytinijan (eggplant casserole), chicken maqluba with almonds (upside-down rice casserole), lamb kebab, grilled vegetables, Iraqi rice, okra casserole, and baklava. The cost? $54 a person.

EXPLAINING 'REAGAN DEMOCRATS'

Reagan historian Craig Shirley notes there is a little confusion over the origins of the phrase "Reagan Democrat" in the press and elsewhere.

"As near I can pin it down, the first person to express the phrase in writing was journalist Peter Goldman with Newsweek shortly after the 1980 campaign. It was later popularized by Democratic pollster Stan Greenberg," Mr. Shirley tells Inside the Beltway.

"But the concept was acutely understood by the Gipper's pollster, Dick Wirthlin, who wrote a long memo to Reagan in the summer of 1980 explaining how he could only win if he created a new governing coalition that was made up of culturally conservative blue collar Democrats in the cities of the Northeast and the rural South.

"Reagan, of course, knew it before anyone, as his big win in the Wisconsin primary in April of 1980 proved. Had it been a closed primary, George H.W. Bush would have won. But because it was open, Reagan won. This was the first time the media really began to grasp the concept of Reagan's cross-party appeal."

POLL DU JOUR

• 32 percent of Republican voters prefer Mitt Romney as the Republican presidential nominee.

• 29 percent of conservatives, 40 percent of GOP "moderates/liberals" and 31 percent of weekly churchgoers agree.

• 28 percent of Republican voters overall prefer Rick Santorum as the nominee; 35 percent of conservatives, 15 percent of GOP moderates/liberals and 35 percent of weekly churchgoers agree.

• 14 percent prefer Newt Gingrich; 17 percent of conservatives, 15 percent of GOP moderates/liberals and 13 percent of weekly churchgoers agree.

• 8 percent prefer Rep. Ron Paul; 29 percent of conservatives, 19 percent of GOP moderates/liberals and 7 percent of weekly churchgoers agree.

Source: A Gallup poll of 1,160 registered Republican and Republican-leaning independent voters conducted Feb. 22 to 26.

Raucous applause, dainty asides to jharper@washingtontimes.com.

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