- The Washington Times - Thursday, August 28, 2014

From our La-di-da Desk comes news of a series of fabulous weekend fundraisers that would not be complete without the presence of the Leader of the Free World. Indeed, fire up Air Force One. President Obama journeys to the well-heeled countryside of Westchester County, New York, on Friday to attend a pair of “Barbecue with Barack” events for the Democratic National Committee — one quite a substantial party, the other a more intimate “roundtable” affair. Yes, of course, the tickets cost up to $32,400 to attend and there will be some vexing road closures and air travel restrictions for the locals, but that, as they say, is show biz. And politics.

“How long will it take for the president to eat a hot dog?” asked one local mayor after the press queried him about the, uh, inconvenience.

But wait. There’s also a jaunt to a private wedding tucked in the mix, as well as the presence of one Obama fan — plus guest — who won entry to the barbecue via a raffle, along with round-trip commercial transport from their home state, and overnight lodging.

Then it’s on to the even more rarefied countryside of Newport, Rhode Island, where Mr. Obama will use his star power to help out the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee. Democratic House Leader Nancy Pelosi, plus Sens. Jack Reed and Sheldon Whitehouse will be among the elected luminaries … but wait again. The event will be hot on the heels of a visit from former President Bill Clinton, who was fundraising in Providence for local Democrats only 48 hours ago. The nimble Mr. Obama will return to Washington on Saturday.

RYAN REPUBLICANISM: ‘ASPIRATIONALLY INCLUSIVE’

He’s going to answer this question many times. But there’s always a moment of truth, and for Rep. Paul Ryan, one of those moments happened Thursday night with veteran newsman Larry King, who hoped to link the White House and the Wisconsin Republican.

“With the public’s knowledge of you after running for vice president, with your standard-bearer Mitt Romney saying that he has no interest in running again, are you going to run?” Mr. King asked during a broadcast of his talk show “PoliticKing,” seen on Ora.tv and RT America.

“I don’t know. I really don’t. I’m going to make that mind up with my family in 2015,” Mr. Ryan replied, also revealing his vision for the future GOP.

“Uh, as a result right now because of the things you just said, I feel I have an opportunity to add a voice, to offer ideas, to show alternatives, to help build a conservative movement and a Republican Party that’s aspirationally inclusive — and, you know, shows alternatives. I don’t like the direction the country’s headed. I feel like we should offer an alternative. I can do that no matter what it is I choose to do in the future.”

THE INEVITABLE HEADLINE

“Texas abuzz about possible Perry-Cruz 2016 battle”

— Associated Press headline on Thursday, describing a potential confrontation between Texas Gov. Rick Perry and Sen. Ted Cruz.

“Two Texans, one White House. Is the 2016 Republican campaign trail big enough?” asks AP reporter Will Weissert. “Even as Perry works to convince conservatives that he’ll be better at coping with the national spotlight this time, he’s increasingly bumping up against his state’s junior senator, tea party darling Ted Cruz, whose firebomb approach on Capitol Hill has grassroots activists clamoring for him to make a White House run.”

And now the inevitable bumper stickers. It’s up to GOP voters to decide which one looks right: Is it PERRY/CRUZ 2016 or CRUZ/PERRY 2016?

SAVVY SANTORUM BYPASSES HOLLYWOOD

He is still a political force, still resonates with the public, and continues to be included on presidential straw polls. That would be Rick Santorum, who is also CEO of the independent EchoLight Studios, which have already produced several significant films that support faith and family values. Now Mr. Santorum is joining the growing group of feisty media folk who are bypassing traditional distribution methods for their creative products.

On Friday, he will be in a San Diego church for the free, public premiere of “One Generation Away,” a documentary produced in conjunction with the Freedom of Conscience Defense Fund. The production is meant to persuade Americans that their religious freedom is fading, particularly in the politically correct public realm. Mr. Santorum, Hobby Lobby founder David Green, Family Research Council President Tony Perkins and ex-Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee are among those appearing in the project.

“When is the lawsuit going to happen that will force us to go to Arlington National Cemetery and force us to take down every cross?” Mr. Huckabee asks.

“It is time to stand up and fight for your right to practice your faith and bring morality to the public square,” the film trailer declares.

A six-minute preview video has been distributed to 3,000 clergy, religious leaders and churches — many of which have high-tech media facilities which could properly screen a feature-length film. Even the Hollywood Reporter has taken notice.

It is all “a new exhibition strategy whereby movies will screen at churches instead of theaters,” says analyst Paul Bond.

“We just though this was the next logical step,” says Mr. Santorum.

FOR THE LEXICON

“Occupy Television”

— New 24-hour online TV channel launched Thursday “to circumvent mainstream media, with its multitude of conflicts of interests, in order to break out of the echo chambers of conventional political discussion. The station is based on the work of Occupy community members and citizen journalists — it is TV for the 99 percent,” the California-based organizers say. It will be broadcast through FilmOn.com.

WEEKEND REAL ESTATE

For sale: 1970s-era “Starwood” mountain estate of the late John Denver, Aspen, Colorado; 9,007-square-foot custom redwood, cedar and glass home on 7.5 acres. Main home and guest house, 11 baths, sauna, four fireplaces, shake roof, extensive artisan woodwork and curved walls, stained glass, multiple decks and walkways, expansive mountain views. Outdoor pool, stone barbecue and fire pit, entertainment area, three-car garage, mountain stream on property.

Priced at $10.8 million, through CarolDopkin.com, listing No. 134799.

POLL DU JOUR

71 percent of Americans say Islamic fundamentalist groups like al Qaeda are a “major threat;” 80 percent of Republicans, 67 percent of Democrats and 69 percent of independents agree.

67 percent overall say the Islamic State, or ISIS, is a major threat; 78 percent of Republicans, 65 percent of Democrats and 63 percent of independents agree.

59 percent overall cite Iran’s nuclear program as a threat; 74 percent of Republicans, 56 percent of Democrats and 54 percent of independents agree.

57 percent overall cite North Korea’s nuclear program; 63 percent of Republicans, 58 percent of Democrats and 53 percent of independents agree.

53 percent overall cite tension between Russia and its neighbors; 54 percent of Republicans, 54 percent of Democrats and 52 percent of independents agree.

48 percent overall cite global climate change; 25 percent of Republicans, 68 percent of Democrats and 44 percent of independents agree.

Source: A Pew Research/USA Today poll of 1,501 U.S. adults conducted Aug. 20-24.

• Have an interesting but productive Labor Day, and thank you for reading Inside The Beltway.

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