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Inside the Beltway: Rand Paul’s big show

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It's never too early raise the curtain on a 2016 presidential play. Sen. Rand Paul knows his lines and will command the political stage in Iowa on Friday — and in New Hampshire on Monday. The Kentucky Republican has a formidable supporting cast.

When he arrives in the Hawkeye State, Mr. Paul headlines the sold-out Lincoln Dinner in Cedar Rapids, sharing the dais with Sen. Chuck Grassley and Rep. Steve King. Grass-roots-minded organizers purposely kept the ticket cost at $50 to attract as many GOP and independent voters as possible. Then it's on to the Granite State. Mr. Paul will be in Concord for the first Republican Liberty Dinner just 72 hours later, accompanied by Republican National Committee Chairman Reince Priebus.

"Sen. Paul has been a leader in the fight for smaller government, lower taxes and fiscal responsibility in Washington. He has taken a strong and principled stand against intrusive government and fought to preserve our constitutional liberties and personal freedoms," says state party Chairwoman Jennifer Horn, who adds that Mr. Paul will be in town "to discuss his plan to reinvigorate and grow our Republican Party."

JINDAL'S CAMEO APPEARANCE

Is he still pining for the White House? Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal will also journey to New Hampshire to headline a political occasion of note. Mr. Jindal appears Friday in Manchester for the GOP State Senate PAC Fundraiser, where the ticket prices range from $100 to $1,000, the sponsorship opportunities themed around Mardi Gras. The evening's host is state Senate President Peter Bragdon.

"A source close to the event said [last month] it will be the single largest fund-raising event the Republican Senators have ever held," writes Union Leader political reporter John DiStaso. "Jindal will be the first notable potential Republican presidential candidate to visit New Hampshire since the re-election of President Barack Obama."

PERSONA NON GRATA

Consider that the Yale Law School will feature Newark Mayor Cory Booker as a commencement speaker, while Harvard Law School has picked CNN legal analyst Jeffrey Toobin.

"Which law school is hosting a rather controversial speaker this year? It's Georgetown, and students are incensed over the selection of Greta Van Susteren," says Staci Zaretsky, a blogger with Above the Law, a legal website.

"The Fox News personality graduated from [Georgetown University Law School] in 1979, received an LL.M. from the school in 1982, and will now earn an honorary degree from her alma mater. Van Susteren even served as an adjunct at the school from 1984 to 1999, but a tipster reports the student reaction has been 'mixed,' and that's a polite way of putting it," writes Ms. Zaretski, adding that administration officials are mum about it all.

Some students have suggested they may boycott the May 19 event.

"Would you seriously deprive yourself of what's supposed to be one of your proudest and most joyous experiences just because you're unhappy with the speaker? For some of you, it may be a decision that you regret for the rest of your life (perhaps like your decision to go to law school in the first place)," Ms. Zaretski advises.

FALSE IMPRESSION

A painstaking new analysis of government data finds that in 2010, there were 3.6 gun homicides per 100,000 people, compared with 7.0 in 1993, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. In 2010, the data also counted 11,078 gun homicide deaths, compared with 18,253 in 1993.

"Despite national attention to the issue of firearm violence, most Americans are unaware that gun crime is lower today than it was two decades ago. According to a new Pew Research Center survey, today 56% of Americans believe gun crime is higher than 20 years ago and only 12% think it is lower," the study says.

Interesting. Where did that impression come from?

"In the months since the mass shooting at a Newtown, Conn., elementary school in December, the public is paying close attention to the topic of firearms," the study said, citing Pew analysis released last month that found "no story received more public attention from mid-March to early April than the debate over gun control."

CHRISTIE'S POLITICAL HEFT

The debate rages: Did New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie have specialized gastric surgery to lose weight for political reasons, or for his personal health? A reader poll from the Newark-based Star-Ledger, a statewide news organization, reveals that 53 percent of the respondents said it was "all about politics, plain and simple. A fitter Christie is a better candidate." Forty-six percent agreed Mr. Christie was dropping the pounds "for his health, and to be there for his family. How dare haters question his motivation?"

A Republican state lawmaker has his own take.

"I'm not going to second guess his motives, but let me tell you this: He's 50. As I get older and he gets older, we all look at our mortality a little more closely," State Assembly Minority Leader Jon M. Bramnick told the newspaper. "I support him for governor and I would support him for president. I'm assuming he's doing this to be healthy, and that I also support."

POLL DU JOUR

79 percent of senior investment advisers say enacting tax reform that "raises no additional revenue for the federal government tax reform" would most help the stock markets.

71 percent say enacting broad tax reform laws would help the stock markets.

50 percent do not expect tax reform to be enacted in the next two years.

33 percent say tax reform will be enacted.

50 percent say such laws will include tax rate reduction and tax break cutbacks.

46 percent say they will include only tax break cutbacks.

Source: A Potomac Research Group survey of 24 senior investment advisers conducted Monday.

Hue and cry, murmurs and asides to jharper@washingtontimes.com.

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