- The Washington Times - Wednesday, April 30, 2014

Yes, earnest talk and aggressive posturing have their charm. But fame and a name also resonate with voters. A new survey finds that Republicans who have some celebrity fanfare going for them lead the early-bird presidential polls. And who’s in first place at the moment? That would be Sen. Rand Paul of Kentucky, followed by Mike Huckabee, Jeb Bush, Rep. Paul Ryan and New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie.

“When it comes to running for president — at least at this early stage — a famous name sure helps,” points out Greg Holyk, an analyst for the ABC News/Washington Post poll released Wednesday.

“Each of the current leaders has name recognition. Paul’s father and Huckabee ran previously for their party’s nomination,” Mr. Holyk says, recalling the 2012 election when then Rep. Ron Paul captivated libertarians and Mr. Huckabee held his own with a down-home style.

“Ryan was Mitt Romney’s running mate in 2012. And Bush, a former Florida governor, has a father and a brother you might have heard of,” he continues. And though some strategists dismiss early polling, it still has value.

“An early advantage, even if based on name-recognition, still is an advantage and one that can carry through to the presidency, as in the case of George W. Bush,” Mr. Holyk continues, noting that the findings reveal something about the voters.

“Huckabee, an ordained minister, does particularly well among evangelical white Protestants and strong conservatives, two customarily high-turnout groups in many GOP primaries and caucuses,” he says. “He also does better among the party faithful — important in closed primaries — than among Republican-leaning independents, while Paul, like his father before him, has more strength among independents.”

BUBBATOPIA

“I want to thank Hillary for coming with me today. It’s been a long time. She hasn’t had to sit through one of these in ages.”

— Former President Bill Clinton to Hillary Clinton, who sat in the audience during his speech Wednesday at Georgetown University.

DOWN GEORGIA WAY

“For anti-gun politicians, activists and their billionaire allies like Michael Bloomberg who want to use the actions of a madman to restrict our Second Amendment rights in Georgia, we have one simple message: Don’t even think about it,” says Patrick Parsons, executive director of Georgia Gun Owners, a nonprofit in Kennesaw, the same town where a gunman opened fire and wounded six people at a FedEx facility earlier this week.

“While our first thoughts are to send out prayers to the victims and their families, the all-too predictable calls for gun control from gun-grabbers is nothing less than despicable,” he says, taking particular issue with “Gun Free Zone” signs.

“No criminal, thug or madman is afraid of a plastic ‘Gun Free Zone’ sign. No posted sign or law will stop someone from doing harm to another. While we believe private property owners should be able to decide for themselves whether they allow firearms on their property, those who ban them publicly do so at the peril of their employees and their place of business,” Mr. Parsons says.

The group is now calling on the Georgia General Assembly to eliminate all “Gun Free Zones” in Georgia, and for private businesses with anti-gun policies to eliminate them “at once.”

STILL SHIELDING DEMOCRATS

Forget the Benghazi emails. Broadcasters have been Sterling-centric in recent days. The big three — ABC, CBS and NBC — have devoted a combined 147 minutes of coverage since Saturday to Los Angeles Clippers owner Donald Sterling and the fallout from his racially-charged remarks made to a girlfriend.

“In contrast, important stories over the same time period that cast President Obama or Democrats in general in a bad light were buried by the network evening and morning shows,” says Scott Whitlock, a senior analyst for the Media Research Center.

“For instance, new White House e-mails released on Tuesday show that the administration played a direct role in creating misleading talking points on the Benghazi scandal. Only ‘CBS This Morning’ covered the story, and for a mere two minutes and 50 seconds. NBC and ABC skipped it.”

Mr. Whitlock also points out that while ABC broadcast 46 minutes of material on Mr. Sterling’s woes, the network granted just 18 seconds to its own survey finding that Mr. Obama was “facing the worst poll numbers of his presidency.” CBS, meanwhile, aired 52 minutes about the team owner, and 46 seconds to Secretary of State John Kerry’s ill-judged and quickly retracted “apartheid” remark about Israel. NBC and ABC did not cover the moment at all.

“If only ABC, NBC and CBS were as interested in investigating bad news for Democrats as they are for a basketball owner, the public might be better informed,” Mr. Whitlock observes.

PROCLAMATION NATION

If it’s the first of the month, then it’s proclamation time at the White House. Officially issued by President Obama in the last 24 hours, here are the proclamations for designated dates of interest to the nation for May:

National Physical Fitness and Sports Month, National Building Safety Month, National Foster Care Month, National Older Americans Month, Jewish American Heritage Month, Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month and National Mental Health Awareness Month. May 1 is also designated as Loyalty Day, Law Day, USA, and the National Day of Prayer.

“I invite the citizens of our nation to give thanks, in accordance with their own faiths and consciences, for our many freedoms and blessings, and I join all people of faith in asking for God’s continued guidance, mercy and protection as we seek a more just world,” Mr. Obama states in his proclamation for the day of prayer.

The 2014 National Observance of the National Day of Prayer hosted by Rep. Mike Alderholt, Alabama Republican, will be broadcast live from Capitol Hill from 9 a.m. to noon here: Nationaldayofprayer.org

BUILD IT AND THEY WILL COME

The American Automobile Association reports that 1,000 tour buses arrive in the nation’s capital daily, ferrying a third of Washington’s 18.5 million yearly visitors to historic destinations around town. The annual economic impact to the city: $2.9 billion. The local government, the National Park Service and other official entities have proclaimed Thursday “D.C. Motorcoach Appreciation Day.”

A SANTORUM MOMENT

“People ask me if Republicans care as much about the poor as Democrats do. I’m not sure we do. And the reason I’m not sure we do is because I don’t hear us talking about them very often. And if you really cared, you’d talk about the problems they have.”

Rick Santorum to an audience at The New York Meeting on Wednesday, while introducing his new book “Blue Collar Conservatives.”

POLL DU JOUR

55 percent of Americans say the president of the U.S. should “project an image of strength;” 39 percent say the president should have an image of transparency and a willingness to negotiate.

47 percent sat the U.S. should be less involved in world affairs, 30 percent say the nation should stay active at “the current level.”

19 percent say the U.S. should be more active in world affairs.

42 percent say President Obama takes a “balanced approach depending on the situation” on the global stage.

36 percent say Mr. Obama is too cautious and lets other countries “control events.”

15 percent say the president is “too bold.”

Source: An NBC News/Wall Street Journal survey of 1,000 U.S. adults conducted April 23-27.

Churlish remarks, brilliant observations to jharper@washingtontimes.com

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