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Inside the Beltway: Tracking calories in Illinois

- The Washington Times - Sunday, March 18, 2012

It's politics heartland style, and there's bacon involved: Republican president hopefuls Mitt Romney and Rick Santorum may battle mano a mano for the attention of Illinois voters before the state primary Tuesday. But the pair is not battling calorie a calorie. Mr. Romney has multiple stops at eateries where campaigning is food-centric, under the scrutiny of journalists who can't wait for him to drop a waffle in his lap.

In the last 48 hours, Mr. Romney has appeared at Pancakes Eggcetera in Rosemont, the Moline Pancake Brunch in Moline, and the Machine Shed Restaurant in Rockford, where the "Heartland Combo" includes roast pork loin, bacon-wrapped pork and barbecued beef brisket. As a last hurrah, Mr. Romney appears for Monday breakfast at Charlie Parker's Diner in Springfield, home of the "Breakfast Shoe" ... an egg on toast with ham, bacon or sausage and topped with hash browns, gravy and cheese sauce.

Mr. Santorum has only one restaurant stop on his agenda, and that may be enough: Davis Brothers Pizza in East Peoria, where he'll host a rally Monday night. Located in an old quonset hut, the spot was founded in 1948 and boasts a thin crust pizza with scant tomato sauce, broad strips of Muenster and Colby cheese, and "enough meat to cover the whole pie," according to owner Cheryl Scott.

FOX-ALICIOUS

Just revealed: Osama bin Laden was told by al Qaeda's U.S.-born media adviser Adam Gadahn about the best broadcast outlets to send an "anniversary video" commemorating the 9/11 terror attacks, according to Washington Post foreign affairs columnist David Ignatius in an analysis published Saturday of recently declassified material taken from bin Laden's compound after his death last May.

"I was given an exclusive look at some of these remarkable documents by a senior administration official," Mr. Ignatius explained.

The aforementioned video, Mr. Gadahn wrote to bin Laden, "should be sent for example to ABC, CBS, NBC, and CNN and maybe PBS and VOA. As for Fox News let her die in her anger ... From a professional point of view, they are all on one level — except [Fox News] channel, which falls into the abyss as you know, and lacks objectivity, too."

"What an unintended boost for Fox, which can now boast that it is al Qaeda's least favorite network," Mr. Ignatius observed.

"That's a subject Ignatius will not be exploring in a future column. And it would make a good one, in which the columnist could speculate on the newspapers that might populate a comparable list of al Qaeda's favorites. Ah, well, maybe that's too easy," counters Scott Johnson, a contributor to Powerline.com

COLLEGE HAVENS

Parents who wonder whether there are any conservative campuses left on the planet, take note. The Young America's Foundation has released its annual list of top campuses for students seeking a "conservative college experience." They are:

Christendom College, College of the Ozarks, Colorado Christian University, Franciscan University, Grove City College, Harding University, Hillsdale College, the King's College, Liberty University, Patrick Henry College, Regent University, St. Vincent College, Thomas Aquinas College, Thomas More College, and Wisconsin Lutheran College.

Colorado Christian University, incidentally, recently sued the federal government over President Obama's health-care mandates and includes a dedication to the Bible and the "original intent of the Constitution" among its strategic objectives.

"For decades, professors at liberal schools have been relentless in their efforts to sway students to the Left. The schools on our list offer fresh and necessary alternatives where students focus on learning — rather than defending — conservative ideas," observes the foundation's vice president Patrick Coyle, who adds that the "esoteric, purely academic focus" at many liberal campuses also omits any emphasis on free enterprise.

GETTING BETTER

A new Rasmussen Reports survey finds that 41 percent of likely U.S. voters think America's best days are in the future — the highest level of optimism in over two years. Slightly more (43 percent) still feel the nation's best days are in the past, but that's the lowest finding since the beginning of 2010 as well. Seventeen percent are not sure, says the survey of 1,000 voters conducted March 11-12.

TALK IT UP

Self-described "free market and liberty-minded members of Congress" plan to hold forth on their views on health care, energy and the federal budget with journalists and bloggers beginning Tuesday.

The new "Conversations with Conservatives" is chaired by Republican Reps. Raul Labrador of Idaho, Tim Huelskamp of Kansas and Jeffrey M. Landry of Louisiana, the ever-changing cast will meet at the Heritage Foundation, moderated by Rob Bluey, director of the organization's Center for Media and Public Policy.

Among those also slated to appear: Reps. Jeff Duncan of South Carolina, Ted Poe and Louie Gohmert of Texas, Bill Johnson of Ohio, Ann Marie Buerkle of New York, Sandy Adams of Florida and Vicki Hartzler of Missouri. Events can be watched here: www.livestream.com/heritagefoundation.

POLL DU JOUR

• 55 percent of Americans think the national leaders of Venezuela, Iran and North Korea want President Obama to win the 2012 election.

• 74 percent of Republicans, 68 percent of conservatives, 81 percent of tea partyers, 41 percent of Democrats and 42 percent of liberals agree.

• 46 percent overall approve the job Mr. Obama is doing when dealing with Iran.

• 18 percent of Republicans, 27 percent of conservatives, 11 percent of tea partyers, 76 percent of Democrats and 73 percent of liberals agree.

• 49 percent overall support the U.S. taking military actions to prevent Iran "getting nuclear weapons."

• 64 percent of Republicans, 58 percent of conservatives, 74 percent of tea partyers, 41 percent of Democrats and 39 percent of liberals agree.

Source: A Fox News poll of 912 registered U.S. voters conducted March 10-12.

Blue plate specials, polls and caterwaul to jharper@washingtontimes.com

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