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Inside the Beltway: Ted Nugent’s Big Show

- The Washington Times - Monday, February 11, 2013

The cameras could linger on rock icon, carnivore and gun-rights advocate Ted Nugent when he takes his seat in the House gallery for the State of the Union address on Tuesday, a guest of Rep. Steve Stockman. And the Texas Republican's intent? His communications adviser Donny Ferguson has thoughts on that.

"We hope President Obama will consider the millions of Americans who privately own firearms and would have their Second Amendment rights stomped on by a universal background check," Mr. Ferguson tells Inside the Beltway. "We also hope he will consider the fact guns are used 2.5 million times a year to stop crime. Gun control is like fertilizer for crime."

The cameras may not linger long on Mr. Nugent, however. There will also be family members of victims from Newtown and four other shooting sites in the audience as well. Rep. James R. Langevin of Rhode Island and four other Democrats have led an effort to persuade peers to give their single guest pass to those affected, noting, "It is our hope that their presence in the House Gallery will send a strong message that it is long past time to act."

LET'S BE BUDDIES

The aforementioned State of the Union speech is getting some show-biz frills, for better or worse: 40 "problem-solver" congressional Democrats and Republicans will sport a "Stop Fighting, Start Fixing" lapel pin on Tuesday. The little adornments show they support No Labels, a bipartisan activist group that insists opposing lawmakers lean across the aisle, play nice and be productive, co-chaired by former Republican presidential hopeful Jon Huntsman Jr. and Sen. Joe Manchin III, West Virginia Democrat.

"Most issues will either be solved on a bipartisan basis, or they will not be solved at all," the group says in their recent pitch to lawmakers.

Meanwhile, see Sen. Rand Paul's official tea party reply to President Obama's address here: http://www.teapartyexpress.org. And play Americans for Tax Reform's comedic "State of the Union" bingo game that tracks Mr. Obama's 25 favorite phrases here: www.atr.org/bingo

SAME OLD SOTU

Maybe the State of the Union could use some excitement, perhaps a wardrobe malfunction or two. There's "little change in views of importance of the State of the Union [address]," reports the Pew Research Center for the People & the Press.

Researchers found in a new survey conducted Feb. 7-10 that 43 percent of Americans view President Obama's big address as about as important as past years' addresses. One-third say Mr. Obama's speech will be more important than those in past years, while 15 percent say it will be less important. These findings have not changed much since 2002, when former President George W. Bush was in office.

Meanwhile, there's a predictable partisan divide: 21 percent of Republicans say Mr. Obama's speech this year is "more important," compared with 46 percent of Democrats. Twenty-seven percent of the GOPers say it's less important; 4 percent of Democrats agree. Similar numbers -- 39 percent and 44 percent, respectively -- say the importance of this year's speech is about the same.

TEDDY TURNER EMERGES

It should be some party. And noisy. FreedomWorks will host the first and only congressional candidate forum that will showcase all 16 Republican candidates who aspire to fill the shoes of Sen. Tim Scott of South Carolina, the former representative who was recently appointed to his current office after Jim DeMint left to become president of the Heritage Foundation.

The more well-known stars of this extravaganza include former Gov. Mark Sanford -- he of the dubious past, but of high name-recognition -- and Teddy Turner, a pro-gun graduate of The Citadel and the surprising, conservative son of media mogul Ted Turner. Yes, the senior Turner has contributed to his son's campaign.

"Each candidate will have the opportunity to present opening and closing statements, with a series of questions prepared by representatives of local grass-roots organizations across the district," FreedomWorks said in a statement.

The event is Saturday in North Charleston, and the primary election is March 19. Three Democrats, incidentally, have also thrown their hats into the very crowded ring.

POPE AND PRESIDENT

During his time in office President Obama has talked very little about Pope Benedict XVI.

"What follows is a complete listing of every instance in which Barack Obama had mentioned the Pope (or the 'papacy' or 'papal') orally or in writing during his presidency prior to the resignation announcement," reports Eric Ostermeier, founder of the University of Minnesota's nonpartisan "Smart Politics" analysis and research team.

"Obama has spoken of the pope on a mere six occasions prior to the resignation, of which four were passing mentions while honoring Father Damien De Veuster, honoring jazz musician Dave Brubeck, praising the Muslim chaplain Sanaa Nadim and telling a joke before Parliament in England," Mr. Ostermeier notes. "The president's recent predecessors going back to Jimmy Carter have each mentioned the pope on dozens of occasions during their respective years in office.

POLL DU JOUR

• 56 percent of Americans approve of the U.S. conducting drone strikes "to target extremists" in Pakistan and other nations.

• 68 percent of Republican and 58 percent of Democrats agree.

• 53 percent of Americans overall are concerned the strikes could endanger civilians; 37 percent of Republicans and 65 percent of Democrats agree.

• 32 percent overall are concerned the strikes could lead to retaliation from extremists; 22 percent of Republicans and 38 percent of Democrats agree.

• 31 percent overall are concerned that the strikes be conducted legally; 24 percent of Republicans and 33 percent of Democrats agree.

• 26 percent overall are concerned the strikes could "damage America's reputation"; 16 percent of Republicans and 31 percent of Democrats agree.

Source: A Pew Research Center poll of 1,004 U.S. adults conducted Feb. 7-10.

Accolades and escapades to jharper@washingtontimes.com.

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