- The Washington Times - Thursday, June 19, 2014

Mitt Romney? Well, at least he still looks the part,” says one New England-based voter who is not surprised with a few startling numbers out of New Hampshire. Garnering 24 percent of the support among likely GOP voters, Mr. Romney led a list of 14 potential Republican presidential hopefuls by a mammoth margin in the Granite State. His nearest competition was New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, who got 9 percent, Sen. Rand Paul with 8 percent, Jeb Bush with 6 percent and — what’s this — Jon Huntsman got 5 percent.

“Mitt Romney clears the field. It could be because the field is weak or because the voters see Romney as somebody who can advance the Republican cause,” reasons David Paleologos, who directed The Boston Herald/Suffolk University survey, conducted June 14-18.

Mr. Romney is already advancing that cause, at least in certain sectors. The press continues to murmur that “Romey Republicanism” is alive and well, while at least a half dozen major news organization have crowned him the “kingmaker” following his canny endorsements in state primaries: All of his choices won. Mr. Romney still exercises hands-on politics as well. In the last week he has hosted both a big-name leadership conference in Utah as well as a strictly local barbecue for Virginia Republicans.

Interesting to note: Mr. Romney’s old presidential campaign site is still alive, maybe just in case. It bears a chipper-looking portrait of the man in question, plus this message: “I still believe in the people of America. And so Ann and I join with you to earnestly pray for this great nation.”

THE MCCARTHY INSTA-PRESS

Look, it’s another Republican lawmaker to ogle. About a thousand stories immediately popped up following the election of Rep. Kevin McCarthy to House Majority Leader — an event billed as an “ascension” in multiple reports. And who is he? Journalists had immediate judgment calls:

“Underneath his easy demeanor is an intensely political operative” (CNN), “A Californian of moderate temperament who is likely to be more of a preserver of the status quo — he is a loyal lieutenant to Speaker John A. Boehner” (New York Times); “Mr. McCarthy is expected to bring a more inclusive, easygoing style to the job” (Wall Street Journal); “Known for his frequent references to ‘Fight Club’ and for showing clips from movies like ‘The Town’ to boost Republican morale, McCarthy has come under criticism for his inability to deliver at key times for the leadership” (The Hill); “McCarthy’s climb to majority leader is among the quickest ascents up the GOP leadership ladder in Republican history” (Politico).

THE VOICE OF ROYCE

When he finally spoke out on Thursday, President Obama offered diplomatic advice plus clear points about U.S. involvement in Iraq. His message echoed current polls, which revealed that supplies, training and shared intelligence pass muster with the public. But no ground troops. Everyone’s comfortable with that, including the White House.

Well, not everyone. A California Republican is not happy.

“The plan that the president announced in response to the rapid terrorist expansion in Iraq underestimates the seriousness of the threat. The steps he announced are needed but fall short of what is required to stop this al Qaeda offshoot from gaining more power, which must include drone strikes,” says Rep. Edward R. Royce, California Republican and chairman of the House Committee on Foreign Affairs.

“Yes, Iraqis must solve their differences on their own, but this crisis comes as the administration has disengaged from Iraq and willfully ignored well-known threats, including the growing strength of the al Qaeda offshoot there and in Syria over the past two years,” Mr. Royce says, adding, “This response is allowing Iran to fill the void and expand its destructive regional influence, inflaming sectarian conflict, destabilizing the Middle East and creating an environment in which the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria and other al Qaeda offshoots will thrive.”

THE BIG SHRUG

The third and final version of “Atlas Shrugged: Who is John Galt?” will be in theaters in September, complete with cameo appearances by, among others, Ron Paul, independent media maven Glenn Beck, Fox News host Sean Hannity and Grover Norquist, founder of the National Taxpayers Union. Movie trailers for the independent production will begin showing in theaters this weekend. Those who admire the monumental book by Ayn Rand that inspired the whole thing are poised to party hearty, meanwhile.

Indeed, the official Atlas Summit gets underway in Manchester, New Hampshire, on Friday, organized by the Atlas Society, which coolly underscores “open Objectivism: the philosophy of reason, achievement, individualism and freedom.” On their agenda: Republican values, “living with grit and resilience,” patriotism as an objectivist virtue, the enemies of capitalism and, oh, yes, a cookout, a formal dinner, dozens of speakers and dozens more forums on weighty topics. See their big doings here: Atlassociety.org.

Meanwhile, “Atlas Shrugged” associate producer Scott DeSapio is not overlooking the buzzworthy opportunity. He will screen an unfinished, prerelease version of the film on Friday at the summit, followed by an audience feedback session.

“That’s right, not a trailer, not a clip — a full-length early version of ASP3,” he says, employing the film’s preferred acronym. “This is a chance to participate in the production of ASP3 and shape the final cut of the film.”

LADIES DAY

Something for young conservative women? Why, yes, and how refreshing. They have gathered in the nation’s capital this week for a two-day “NeW National Conference” for insight into women’s issues, fiscal mindedness and freedom — conservative-style. “NeW,” incidentally, stands for “network of enlightened” women.

Among the many accomplished ladies on hand: Reps. Susan W. Brooks, Indiana Republican; syndicated columnist Mona Charen; Fox News contributors Monica Crowley, Mary Katharine Ham and Katie Pavlich; Peggy Nance, president of Concerned Women for America; authors Kate Obenshain and Kate O’Beirne; media strategist Lou Ann Sabatier; Sabrina Schaeffer, executive director of the Independent Women’s Forum; Genevieve Wood, policy analyst for the Heritage Foundation; and Emily Ekins, director of polling for the Reason Foundation.

Organizers advise that their conference forums will be available on YouTube. See their message here: Enlightenedwomen.org.

WEEKEND REAL ESTATE

For sale: The Aunt Vonnie West House and Post Office, Cowee, North Carolina; “charming” gabled tin roof home with gingerbread trim built in 1936 by local schoolteacher/newspaper columnist on conservation-protected 5.4 acres, includes West Mill region town post office building, built 1920. Sitting porch, original floors, 1,510 square feet of living space, eligible for historic rehabilitation tax credits. Price: $99,000; A “preservation” property available through Preservation North Carolina (presnc.org).

POLL DU JOUR

74 percent have a “great deal” or “quite a lot of confidence” in the military.

62 percent have confidence in small businesses. 53 percent have confidence in police and law enforcement.

45 percent have confidence in organized religion, 34 percent in the medical system, 29 percent in “the presidency.”

26 percent have confidence in both banks and public schools, 23 percent have confidence in the criminal justice system.

22 percent have confidence in organized labor, 21 percent in “big business.

7 percent have confidence in the U.S. Congress.

Source: A Gallup poll of 1,027 U.S. adults conducted June 5-8 and released Thursday.

Cordial comments, impertinent banter to jharper@washingtontimes.com

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