- The Washington Times - Tuesday, July 31, 2012

The dedicated fans of Rep. Ron Paul are determined to make a big noise at the Republican National Convention, and the Texas Republican is raising money to get them there. Mr. Paul says he’s told his campaign staff to offer financial assistance to “pro-liberty delegates” who can’t afford to journey to Tampa, Fla., at month’s end; the lawmaker has sent out an impassioned plea for contributions to help with their travel and lodging.

“This is incredibly important for a number of reasons. First, the convention is our opportunity to plant our flag and show that our Liberty movement is the future of the GOP,” Mr. Paul says. “Second, we’re expecting a credentials battle at the convention to ensure the national GOP doesn’t just ‘look the other way’ at some of the dirty tricks my supporters had to deal with in many states.”

The lawmaker also has his eye on the party platform, despite suspending his “active” presidential campaign in May. Among his causes: Internet freedom, an audit of the Federal Reserve and “the indefinite detention of American citizens.” Mr. Paul also anticipates a possible “battle over a plank opposing the so-called Patriot Act and undeclared wars.”

ROMNEY BASHAPALOOZA

The moment Mitt Romney announces his choice for a running mate in the very near future, journalists will descend — primed to dismiss the potential of the new Republican team or the wisdom of Mr. Romney’s choice. So brace for impact. Or run for the hills. The news media already has had a very vigorous warmup in negative coverage.

Though there were uplifting moments, definitive diplomacy and productive conversation during Mr. Romney’s six-day overseas visit, much of the press framed the trip as a failure, their prose trimmed in punnery. Among the headlines in the aftermath: “Around the world in weighty gaffes” (ABC News), “Gall around the world” (WNYC radio in New York), “gaffeapalooza” (The Washington Post). Much of the reporting was exquisitely crafted to counter any evidence that Mr. Romney was indeed up to the global-scale duties of an American president.

“Coverage of Romney’s ‘gaffe-tastic’ trip contrasts with 2008’s coverage of Europe’s ‘Obamamania’,” points out observant Noah Rothman, an analyst with Mediaite.com.

Romney’s overseas mission was marred by several incidents and misstatements magnified by brutal coverage in the press. With the awful headlines fresh in mind, it is worth reviewing how then-Sen. Barack Obama’s 2008 trip abroad was covered,” Mr. Rothman says. “Here’s a spoiler, it was viewed in an overwhelmingly positive light — but it didn’t have to be that way. Obama’s trip abroad could have been covered quite differently had any news organization been willing to buck the narrative that Sen. Obama was not prone to failure and highlight his own missteps overseas.”

Powerline.com’s John Hinderaker, meanwhile, calls the Romney coverage “hypercritical,” noting that by any reasonable standards, the trip was a success. But the election is less than 100 days away, and the press has a big appetite.

“It is a useful reminder that the media-formerly-known-as-mainstream are still lying in wait, and will pounce on any opportunity to give the Obama campaign a boost. That they have had so few openings to do so is a tribute to the discipline of Mitt Romney and his campaign,” Mr. Hinderaker says.

TRUMP LOVE

Real estate mogul Donald Trump did “surprisingly well” in a survey of 5,700 small-business owners that gauged their approval of 11 potential vice-presidential candidates. The Donald, apparently, has not lost his charm among plumbers, hair dressers, home remodelers, caterers and other entrepreneurs. That’s according to the “Vice Presidential Poll” released Tuesday by George Washington University and Thumbtack, an online hiring resource for small businesses.

When asked who would be Mitt Romney’s best running mate, Mr. Trump came in third among Republican respondents in the survey, which also gauged sentiments among independents, Democrats and swing state voters. Mr. Trump was trumped by Condoleezza Rice, who garnered 32 percent of the vote and Sen. Marco Rubio of Florida got 21 percent. The billionaire drew 18 percent. New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie was in fourth place at 9 percent, followed by Rep. Paul Ryan of Wisconsin (6 percent) and Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal (3 percent).

TSA ‘MISCONDUCT’

Will it be a hot seat, or just a practical sit-down? On Wednesday morning, John Halinski, deputy administrator for the Transportation Security Administration, goes before a House Homeland Security subcommittee on transportation security hearing bearing a title that tells all: “Breach of Trust: Addressing Misconduct Among TSA Screeners.” Rep. Mike Rogers, who chairs the subcommittee, is keenly interested in how quickly the federal agency addresses reports of criminal or negligent employee conduct.

“Given the importance of securing aviation and other transportation systems from a terrorist attack, it is essential that TSA rebuild its trust and image with the American people,” the Alabama Republican says.

“Many federal agencies struggle with criminal cases against their employees; but TSA, unlike most government agencies, interacts with the general public in a very frequent and personal manner, and its high-profile criminal cases, among other failings, have resulted in major image problems and a growing lack of support for the agency,” Mr. Rogers adds, emphasizing that the hearing is an “opportunity” for Mr. Halinski to provide a timely update.

POLL DU JOUR

• 93 percent of likely U.S. voters say “policies and competence” is more important to them than “likeability” when choosing a president; 3 percent say likeability is more important.

• 71 percent say their attention is drawn more by the presidential election than the Olympics; 21 percent say they pay more attention to the London games.

• 6 percent say “neither” draws their attention.

• 48 percent say Mitt Romney is the “stronger leader” in the election; 44 percent cite President Obama.

• 47 percent say Mr. Romney most shares their values; 44 percent cite Mr. Obama.

• 46 percent say Mr. Romney is the “more honest and trustworthy” candidate; 44 percent cite Mr. Obama.

Source: A Hill Poll of 1,000 likely U.S. voters conducted July 26.

Barks, crows, yelps to jharper@washingtontimes.com.