- The Washington Times - Monday, February 5, 2001

Gilmore's signal

Virginia Gov. James S. Gilmore III, the new chairman of the Republican National Committee, signaled yesterday that President Bush and Senate Republicans may be ready to support Roger Gregory for a lifetime term on the 4th Circuit Court of Appeals.

Judge Gregory, who is black, was given a recess appointment by President Clinton after the Senate failed to act on his nomination. However, Judge Gregory will lose his judgeship at the end of this session of Congress unless given Senate approval for a lifetime appointment.

"Governor Gilmore, the whole issue of race and George W. Bush he got only 8 percent of the black vote. There's a gentleman in Virginia named Roger Gregory. He is the first black man ever appointed to the 4th Circuit Court of Appeals, by President Clinton, a recess appointment because the Senate would not confirm him. Should the U.S. Senate now give full confirmation to Roger Gregory?" Tim Russert, host of NBC's "Meet the Press," asked Mr. Gilmore.

"Yes. As a matter of fact, the two Republican senators in Virginia, Senators [John] Warner and Senator [George] Allen, both are in support of Roger Gregory," Mr. Gilmore replied.

"I think he'd be a good person, but, you know, we believe in the Republican Party that we are going to broaden the base of our party, we are going to reach out, we're going to find new people to bring into this party. There are a lot of Democrats that believe as we believe on the issues, particularly with tax cuts and education, and we're going to include a lot of people, and I think that's really a good appointment."

However, Mr. Gilmore declined to take a position on whether President Bush should nominate Missouri Supreme Court Justice Ronnie White for a place on the federal bench. Mr. White, a Clinton judicial nominee, was rejected by the U.S. Senate after then-Sen. John Ashcroft now attorney general questioned whether he was tough enough on criminals.

Ashcroft's signal

Attorney General John Ashcroft, fresh from a bruising Senate confirmation process in which he was accused of being "racially insensitive," worshipped yesterday at the oldest black Baptist church in the District of Columbia.

The Rev. Derrick Harkins, pastor of the Nineteenth Street Baptist Church, issued an unusual statement yesterday concerning Mr. Ashcroft's appearance at his church:

"When you receive a call from the U.S. attorney general, you can either interpret the call as an outreached hand and an opportunity to begin a relationship built on faith and trust, or you can look the other way, ask him to worship elsewhere and completely miss out on an opportunity to begin to bridge the divide that separates us. I believe we did the right thing."

Bush's strategy

"In the midst of putting forth his initial governing agenda, President Bush has revealed his political strategy for reinventing the Republican Party's image in advance of the 2002 congressional elections, while enhancing his own prospects for winning a second term two years later," Philadelphia Inquirer reporter Dick Polman wrote in a front-page story yesterday.

"Republicans are well aware that their current majorities in the House and Senate are tenuous, and that Bush must make inroads among African Americans, suburban women, independents, Latinos and Catholics if he expects to govern effectively for eight years. And they are hopeful that his early policy moves will help reap these political rewards," Mr. Polman said.

"Indeed, the White House is already laying the groundwork, in tandem with the Republican National Committee and the Republican Governors Association, for the president's core political message, as evidenced in his education policy: That he is a new kind of Republican, a pragmatic conservative who champions the downtrodden, loathes intolerance, and finds virtue in an effective federal government."

Just wondering

In the end, Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton "had to succumb and write checks for $86,000 worth of tainted loot," New York Times columnist Maureen Dowd writes, referring to gifts she and her husband accepted while preparing to leave the White House but before she was sworn in as a U.S. senator.

"But now we know the junior senator from New York has terribly flawed judgment. And her sense of entitlement knows no bounds," Miss Dowd said.

The columnist added: "Not that I'm suspicious, but I can't help wondering: Will Steven Spielberg, Walter Kaye, Mary Steenburgen and the others cash their checks from the Clintons?"

Be careful

Lynne M. Abraham, a Democrat who serves as Philadelphia district attorney, is under fire from some black activists for supposed racial prejudice.

"A number of prominent African Americans have sought to recruit [black] City Commissioner Alex Talmadge to run against Abraham in the Democratic primary. They accuse the incumbent of racial bias in her handling of several controversial criminal cases, including two fatal shootings of black men by white police officers," the Philadelphia Inquirer reports.

However, that has not stopped Mayor John Street, a black Democrat, from throwing his support behind Miss Abraham's re-election bid.

Said the mayor, in words that might serve as a lesson to Democratic senators who voted against John Ashcroft's nomination to be U.S. attorney general: "The one thing that you have to be very careful of in this business is making judgments about people based on maybe one or two incidents over a long career… . I've watched [Miss Abraham's] work for a dozen years and concluded, without any question, that this is a person who merits my support… . I think she has done her job."

Party of Clinton

Joe Andrew, who until Saturday served as chairman of the Democratic National Committee, concedes the obvious: Bill Clinton continues to run the party.

"We are the party of Bill Clinton, and it doesn't matter whether Terry McAuliffe or Maynard Jackson is our chair," Mr. Andrew said in an interview with Los Angeles Times reporter Mark Z. Barabak.

"We will continue to be the party of Bill Clinton because we're very proud of our accomplishments. Obviously, there are controversies that come with those accomplishments."

Terry McAuliffe, the new party chairman, is believed to have been hand-picked by Mr. Clinton and his wife, Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton, New York Democrat.

McAuliffe's 'guarantee'

Democratic Party Chairman Terry McAuliffe yesterday "guaranteed" that New York Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton will not run for president in 2004, although he was not willing to bet a million dollars on it.

"I feel pretty safe saying, making a Shermanesque statement here, that Hillary Rodham Clinton will not run for president in 2004," Mr. McAuliffe said on NBC's "Meet the Press."

"Absolutely guaranteed?" host Tim Russert asked.

"Guaranteed," Mr. McAuliffe replied.

However, when asked by Mr. Russert whether he would be willing to contribute a million dollars to "the Boys and Girls Club of America" if Mrs. Clinton should prove him wrong, Mr. McAuliffe said with a laugh: "I would like to check with my lovely wife, Dorothy, before I make that statement."

Powell's answer

Secretary of State Colin Powell yesterday made it clear that he personally disagrees with President Bush's decision to bar U.S. funds from overseas family planning groups that support abortion.

In an interview with ABC's "This Week," Mr. Powell said the decision was consistent with Mr. Bush's campaign pledge and the policy of the Republican Party, of which he is a member.

But asked if he agreed with the new policy, he said: "It is the policy. I have other views that are my personal views, but this is the policy of the government."

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