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Inside the Beltway: Bowling, brats and burgers for presidential hopefuls

- The Washington Times - Thursday, March 29, 2012

Don't get poll fatigue just yet: The Republican presidential primary season stretches ahead with eight more primaries until the big finale in Utah on June 26. In the more immediate future, the District of Columbia, Maryland and Wisconsin are next at bat, on Tuesday.

The hopefuls continue their quest in the next 48 hours. Mitt Romney, Rick Santorum and Newt Gingrich are in Wisconsin at multiple stops, some with distinct local charm.

Mr. Santorum, for instance, will drop in at Dale's Lanes for a fish fry and bowling in Weston, along with Loopy's Grill and Saloon in Chippewa Falls, where the specialties include the half-pound Kaboom Burger topped with roast beef, ham, fried onions, bacon, lettuce, tomato and cheese. And while there has been much noise from the "Why don't you drop out?" crowd, Mr. Gingrich will attend a Green Bay Brats and Beer rally in Oshkosh, among other things.

Things transform into standard presidential campaign territory Saturday when all three men appear at the Faith & Freedom Coalition's presidential kickoff forum. Organizers expect an audience of about 1,000 grass-roots activists and pastors, plus invited speakers who also include Gov. Scott Walker; Sen. Ron Johnson; Lt. Gov. Rebecca Kleefisch; Reps. Paul Ryan, Sean P. Duffy, F. James Sensenbrenner Jr., Thomas E. Petri and Reid J. Ribble.

And where's Rep. Ron Paul? Conferring with strategists and family, perhaps, but definitely still in the race. His most recent event was in Wisconsin on Thursday; his next event will be a fundraising luncheon in San Francisco next Thursday.

LIGHTEN UP

Earth Hour: Oh, it does sound so noble, a veritable Al Gore-ian delight. Landmarks around the world — from the Eiffel Tower to the Empire State Building — go dark for an hour on Saturday night as a symbolic gesture against global climate change, with citizenry in 135 countries expected to join in. Organized by the World Wildlife Fund five years ago, the temporary blackout is billed as the "world's largest environmental event in history," though organizers suggest participants record plenty of videos and Tweet them right away — not necessarily an energy-saving activity.

Meanwhile, the Competitive Enterprise Institute says it has an unapologetic countermeasure, also a noble gesture. Keep the lights on Saturday night — all in the name of the Human Achievement Hour, meant to celebrate individual freedom and appreciation of the innovations folks have used to improve their lives throughout history. So there.

"Gather with friends in the warmth of a heated home, watch television, take a hot shower, drink a beer, call a loved one on the phone, listen to music," the group says. It will stage its own in-house party, to be live-streamed online at 8:30 p.m., complete with an online chat: "Tell us how you are celebrating human achievement in your neighborhood," the group says. Find it all here: www.cei.org/hah.

A 'NAM MOMENT

"We reaffirm one of our most fundamental obligations: to show all who have worn the uniform of the United States the respect and dignity they deserve, and to honor their sacrifice by serving them as well as they served us. Half a century after those helicopters swept off the ground and into the annals of history, we pay tribute to the fallen, the missing, the wounded, the millions who served, and the millions more who awaited their return. Our nation stands stronger for their service, and on Vietnam Veterans Day, we honor their proud legacy with our deepest gratitude."

— From President Obama's official proclamation Thursday recognizing Vietnam Veterans Day.

HISTORIC MUDSLINGING

"The general has dedicated himself so many times he must feel like the cornerstone of a public building."

— Adlai Stevenson on Dwight Eisenhower, 1952.

NOT SO CREDIBLE

The fatal shooting of Trayvon Martin by George Zimmerman has caused many things, from personal tragedy for family members to protest marches, endless speculation, charges, countercharges, cultural moments and wall-to-wall news. Have those stories been equitable? No, says a National Review insta-poll of about 12,000 readers: 97 percent agreed that press coverage has not been fair.

DOGS BEHAVING BADLY

Or is it owners behaving badly? Embrace Pet Insurance has revealed the five "craziest" things that mostly dogs have eaten in their zeal to be, well, dogs. And yes, the company paid out on the claims. First came Isabella, a golden retriever who ate marijuana-laced cookies and became ill; the claim was $1,476. Sasha the Samoyed ate a razor, and the owner received $1,452; Peanut the Labrador wolfed down marbles, and the claim payment was $312. A Bernese Mountain Dog named Regan ate a soft toy, resulting in a $157 payment, while Sappho, a rogue Russian Blue kitty, ate part of a bra. The owner got $121.

"Pets are inevitably going to get up to devious escapades," observes Laura Bennett, founder of the New York-based company, who adds that all critters survived just fine.

POLL DU JOUR

• 49 percent of American men support President Obama, 46 percent support Mitt Romney in an Obama/Romney match-up.

• 58 percent of American women support Mr. Obama, 38 percent support Mr. Romney.

• 94 percent of Democratic men and 93 percent of Democratic women support Mr. Obama.

• 93 percent of Republican men and 89 percent of Republican women support Mr. Romney.

• 85 percent of liberal men and 93 percent of liberal women support Mr. Obama.

• 72 percent of conservative men and 70 percent of conservative women support Mr. Romney.

• 42 percent of independent male voters and 52 percent of women independents support Mr. Obama.

• 47 percent of independent male voters and 39 percent of women independents support Mr. Romney.

Source: A Pew Research Center survey of 1,168 registered U.S. voters conducted March 7-11 and released Thursday; the sample included 602 women and 586 men.

Tipline always open at jharper@washingtontimes.com.

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