Inside the Beltway: Romney wealth: Who cares?

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Three fourths of the nation’s voters don’t care. No really. They don’t. New Gallup research reveals that 75 percent of all registered voters say Mitt Romney’s personal worth of some $250 million makes “no difference” to them; this includes 89 percent of Republicans, 76 percent of independents and 62 percent of Democrats.

“The Obama campaign is focusing on Romney’s wealth in an attempt to position him as the candidate whose policies will benefit the wealthy and increase the gap between rich and poor — juxtaposed against Mr. Obama’s positioning as the candidate who will do more for the middle class. Most Americans claim Mr. Romney’s wealth will not affect their vote, perhaps reflecting Gallup research showing that the majority of Americans believe the U.S. benefits from having a rich class and would themselves like to be rich,” observes Gallup director Frank Newport.

CARNEY‘S FAVORITE PHRASE

“I would refer you to the campaign.”

Such a tidy phrase. It’s White House press secretary Jay Carney’s current method to defuse troublesome questions from restless journalists during the daily briefing. Mr. Carney has taken to labeling such inquiries a “campaign-specific question” and skipping the answer. In recent days, he’s used the “campaign” excuse to deflect queries about President Obama’s college records, the presidential seal, outsourcing, White House transparency, civility and the NAACP annual convention, among other things.

Needless to say, Obama campaign spokesman Benjamin Bolt is about to get a lot busier.

SAVE OUR SHIP

This is still a ship to be reckoned with. Sixty years ago, the SS United States was the fastest passenger ship ever built — an all-aluminum vessel that could carry 14,000 troops in wartime, yet it still hosted more than 1 million hoity-toity passengers enamored by its nifty moderne interiors. Almost 1,000 feet in length, this grand ship was 107 feet longer than the Titanic. And of particular interest: The federal government originally worked with the United States Lines to develop a “super ship to be part Cold War weapon and part luxury ocean liner,”according to historical records. It was considered a “top secret Pentagon project.”

But alas. Time, jet travel and the economy took their toll: America’s magnificent flagship was retired in 1969, sold, stripped of interior fittings in 1984 and sealed by the U.S. Navy for safety reasons. The iconic red, white and blue funnels faded but proud, the liner was finally docked at Pier 82 in Philadelphia a dozen years later and saved from the scrapheap by philanthropists and hopeful developers several times.

But history still calls. A determined conservancy group has hopes to sway the vessel’s fate with an aggressive fundraising effort — one can “sponsor” an inch of the ship - in hopes of resurrecting the half-million square feet of floating space as a self-sustaining retail and event site. Hey, why not? The Queen Mary is enjoying just such a retirement in California.

The SS United States, incidentally, hosted countless movie stars; we’re talking John Wayne and Marilyn Monroe here, along with Presidents Harry S. Truman, Dwight D. Eisenhower, John F. Kennedy and Bill Clinton. And yes, the conservancy is taking ideas about redevelopment. Perhaps the ship should now be re-launched as a space-going tourist vehicle.

See information about the liner — and a haunting, current photo — here: www.ssusc.org. The animated, interactive fundraising site shows thousands of little spots on the ship funnels, hull and decks that already have been sponsored by kindly donors. See it all here: https://savetheunitedstates.org

CPAC AWAKENS

Those who pine to get in touch with their inner Ronald Reagan and think optimistic thoughts about the Republican Party, rejoice. The 40th annual Conservative Political Action Conference — affectionately known as CPAC — is awake, and ready to rumble.

The American Conservative Union has opened registration for CPAC 2013, eight months before the extravaganza gets under way in mid-March at the spectacular Gaylord National Resort on the Potomac River. This is the largest combined hotel and conference center on the entire East Coast, which tells you a little something about the organization’s expectations for attendance. See the information here: www.conservative.org.

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