- The Washington Times - Monday, July 23, 2012

Hey, Gary E. Johnson’s still standing, still touring: the Libertarian presidential hopeful, in fact, is quite cheerful these days, having drawn 5 percent of the national vote in multiple polls. The phenomenon has prompted Mr. Johnson to insist he be included in presidential debates with President Obama and Mitt Romney, which begin Oct 3. Tanned and resolute, Mr. Johnson was in the nation’s capital on Monday with an entourage of two, but a full schedule. And yes, the sight of the White House gives this true Washington outsider great pause whenever he comes to town.

“Yes, I want to be there. I see myself in there. It’s really a matter of karma. I visualize myself in the White House,” Mr. Johnson tells Inside the Beltway, adding that his personal style and Southwestern roots would be right at home in the hallowed halls of 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue.

“One thing I would do,” the former New Mexico governor vows. “If I became president, I’d ground Air Force One. Who needs that expense? And I’d also stop snarling traffic wherever I went. That’s got to go, too.”

HUCKABEE PLAYS CHICKEN

“Let’s affirm a business that operates on Christian principles and whose executives are willing to take a stand for the godly values we espouse,” declares Mike Huckabee. The Fox News host and one-time presidential hopeful is irked by what he calls “vitriolic assaults” on the $4 billion Chick-fil-A fast-food empire after its CEO, Dan Cathy, publicly spoke out against gay marriage. Those remarks, in turn, outraged Boston Mayor Thomas Menino, who plans to bar the franchise from his city, and “Muppets” creator Jim Henson Co., which has ended a partnership with the restaurants. Interest groups, meanwhile, are organizing a boycott of some 1,600 Chick-fil-A stores nationwide.

Mr. Huckabee, however, has declared Aug. 1 to be “Chick-fil-A Day,” and has issued a call for folks to patronize their local shop. Some 39,000 people have signed on.

“Too often, those on the left make corporate statements to show support for same sex marriage, abortion, or profanity, but if Christians affirm traditional values, we’re considered homophobic, fundamentalists, hate-mongers, and intolerant. This effort is not being launched by the Chick-fil-A company, and no one from the company or family is involved in proposing or promoting it,” Mr. Huckabee advises.

WHERE’S BUDDY?

Former presidential hopeful Buddy Roemer refused to take any donation larger than $100 during his short but intense campaign for the White House. Mr. Roemer has not given up his quest to get big money out of politics, however, and will appear before the Senate Judiciary subcommittee on the Constitution, civil rights and human rights on Tuesday for a hearing, “Taking Back Our Democracy: Responding to Citizens United and the Rise of Super PACs.” Mr. Roemer, in fact, has already founded the Reform Project, a nonpartisan organization taking on “unfair use of money in our political system.” He deems it downright “undemocratic.”

Also taking the stand: Harvard University law professor Lawrence Lessig and Ilya Shapiro, senior fellow at the Cato Institute.

“I look forward to telling Congress and the American people about the corruption and special interests that are paralyzing our republic. I will end by telling America that there is nothing we cannot fix together, and the Reform Project will begin to do so by uniting reformers from all over the country to put an end to business-as-usual,” Mr. Roemer tells the Beltway.

BANE OF DEMOCRATS

Bain is the bane of Democrats, not Republicans.

“Despite concerted Democratic attacks on his business record, Republican challenger Mitt Romney scores a significant advantage over President Obama when it comes to managing the economy, reducing the federal budget deficit and creating jobs,” says USA Today political writer Susan Page, regarding a new finding released by her newspaper and the Gallup Poll on Monday.

“By more than 2-1 — 63 percent to 29 percent — those surveyed say Romney’s background in business, including his tenure at the private equity firm Bain Capital, would cause him to make good decisions, not bad ones, in dealing with the nation’s economic problems over the next four years,” she continues. “The findings raise questions about Obama’s strategy of targeting Bain’s record in outsourcing jobs and hammering Romney for refusing to commit to releasing more than two years of his tax returns.”

VOTER ANGST

The “angst of the American electorate over negative campaigning and personal attacks” is the centerpiece of a Knights of Columbus survey revealing that 78 percent of Americans say they are frustrated by the tone of political campaign, while 66 percent say candidates spend more time criticizing their opponents than addressing the issues. Almost as many say such negative campaigning causes significant damage to the political process.

“The American people want and deserve civility and a conversation on the issues, rather than the personal vilification of political opponents,” said Knights of Columbus Supreme Knight Carl Anderson. “As Americans, we understand that we may not agree on every aspect of every issue, but we also understand that how we disagree says a great deal about who we are as a nation.”

POLL DU JOUR

• 79 percent of Americans plan to watch the 2012 Olympic Games.

• 50 percent say U.S. athletes winning the most medals is more interesting than watching world records being set.

• 43 percent say new records are more interesting, regardless of what nation sets them.

• 50 percent say Michael Phelps will be the biggest “male star”; 19 percent are unsure; 17 percent cited LeBron James; 8 percent Usain Bolt.

• 43 percent say Serena Williams will be the biggest “female star”; 26 percent are unsure; 11 percent cite Hope Solo; 9 percent, Lolo Jones.

• 41 percent say China is America’s strongest competitor in the Olympics; 21 percent are unsure; 15 percent cite Russia; 8 percent, Canada; 7 percent, Great Britain; 7 percent, Australia.

• 30 percent say gymnastics is their favorite event; 23 percent cite swimming; 18 percent, track and field; 11 percent, basketball; and 10 percent, soccer.

Source: A Marist University poll of 1,010 U.S. adults, conducted July 9-11 and released Monday.

Cryptic asides, indecorous outbursts to jharper@washingtontimes.com