- The Washington Times - Friday, May 17, 2002

Sharpton's night

"Anyone who doubts Al Sharpton is running for president didn't hear him Tuesday night as he dominated the podium at the victory party of Newark's Mayor Sharpe James," John Fund writes from New Jersey.

"The mayor's re-election race drew national media coverage after moderate Councilman Cory Booker raised $3 million, forged a black-Hispanic coalition and began leading the mayor in polls. The 66-year old Mr. James cashed in all his chips as head of the state's biggest urban political machine. But Mr. Sharpton didn't come and campaign for Mr. James to pay a debt. He came to stake a claim on black voters for the 2004 Democratic primaries," Mr. Fund said in a column at www.opinionjournal.com.

"On Tuesday night, Mr. James seemed glued to Mr. Sharpton as they arrived at the ballroom at the Robert Treat Hotel [in Newark] to acknowledge the foot soldiers who helped to deliver the mayor's come-from-behind 53 percent victory. The first thing the mayor did on stage was to grasp Mr. Sharpton's hand and raise it in a victory salute. It was Mr. Sharpton who spoke first, soaking up the TV camera lights.

"'We can win [in the future] because Sharpe James and me can never be defeated,' he said. He then attacked the newspaper editorial boards that had commented favorably on Cory Booker's challenge. Several onlookers expressed surprise that Chicago's Rep. Jesse Jackson Jr. and his father, both of whom had campaigned for Mr. James, weren't in attendance. 'I guess this is Sharpton's night I mean Sharpe's night," one union official nervously observed.


Pet peeve

"If there is one Republican in the U.S. Senate who doesn't want to antagonize the White House right now, it may be New Hampshire's Bob Smith," United Press International observes in its Capital Comment column.

"The two-term legislator is in the midst of a difficult primary fight against Rep. John E. Sununu, New Hampshire Republican, the namesake son of Bush 41's chief of staff, and he does not need the White House to weigh in against him, even tacitly," the wire service said.

"Smith probably did not help his case at Tuesday night's Republican National Committee fund-raising gala. A source sitting several tables away from Smith says the senator's cell phone emitted an extremely loud ring while President George Bush was in the middle of his speech. The phone rang 'three loud blasts,' says the source, while Smith fumbled around in his pocket trying to get to it.

"It is a well-known fact except, possibly, to Smith that cell phones going off at inappropriate times are a presidential pet peeve. So, instead of telling the person on the other end of the phone that he would call back, our source says Smith commenced a conversation and laughed out loud. People for several tables around him in all directions were glaring at him, giving the impression they all thought it was inappropriate and rude.

"Nevertheless, Smith just kept talking and laughing and glaring back, the source says, staying on the phone for close to 10 minutes while the president gave his remarks and tried to ignore what was going on in front of him."


'The almighty Dios'

President Bush, addressing a gathering at the National Hispanic Prayer Breakfast, said yesterday that America has turned to prayer and "the almighty Dios" for strength after the September 11 terrorist attacks.

"Prayer has served as a unifying factor in our nation. Prayer gives us strength for the journey ahead," Mr. Bush said.

The first president to address the annual gathering, Mr. Bush said the U.S. government has never imposed religion on its citizens and "men and women can be good without faith." Nonetheless, he said, faith is important to a strong nation.

"Prayer reminds us that a great people must be humble before God, searching for wisdom constantly searching for wisdom from the almighty Dios," the president said, using the Spanish word for God.

Mr. Bush plugged his initiative before Congress to help align religious charities with government community-service programs, the Associated Press reports. His plan is important, he said, "to combat loneliness and despair and hopelessness."


Hyde vs. Schumer

Rep. Henry J. Hyde, Illinois Republican, says he is starting to doubt whether Sen. Charles E. Schumer, New York Democrat, really wants a bankruptcy-reform bill to be signed into law.

Versions of the legislation have passed both houses of Congress, but Mr. Schumer has stymied the bill in conference committee by insisting that abortion protesters be singled out for punishment.

"In a May 10 letter to the editor defending his abortion-clinic amendment to the bankruptcy-reform bill, Sen. Charles Schumer accuses me of wanting to help pro-life protesters 'to get out of paying clinic-violence debts,'" Mr. Hyde said in a letter to the Wall Street Journal.

"But our disagreement is not about debts arising from 'violence.' On the contrary, it is about whether to impose the extreme penalty of non-dischargeability on peaceful protesters who may have committed non-violent misdemeanors, violations of local ordinances or similar infractions. Nobody denies that non-violent offenders should be held accountable for their offenses; the dispute is about whether the punishment should include losing their family homes should they ever have to file bankruptcy."

Mr. Hyde added: "I'm beginning to wonder if Sen. Schumer wants the bankruptcy-reform bill at all. He keeps saying that he's willing to compromise, yet he's offered only one compromise while I and other pro-life House conferees on the bankruptcy bill have offered six compromises as of last week. House conferees have offered to make debts arising from violent acts whether committed against abortion providers or against anyone else nondischargeable in bankruptcy."


Giuliani's future

Former New York City Mayor Rudolph W. Giuliani says he will return to public office someday, and he expects to stay with girlfriend Judith Nathan forever.

"If you are asking me to guess about my future, just looking at my past I'll be back in public office at some point," Mr. Giuliani told TV Guide for its issue that hit newsstands on Monday.

He will be eligible to run for mayor again in 2005, but he played down speculation that he would run for vice president in 2004 should Richard B. Cheney step down.

"My hope, prayer and all my encouragement would be toward keeping George Bush and Dick Cheney in exactly the positions they're in," Mr. Giuliani said.

He said Miss Nathan gave him "tremendous emotional support" through his treatment for prostate cancer and as he led the city during the aftermath of the September 11 attacks.

"We are very much in love. We're going to be together permanently," he said, adding that he could not discuss marriage because his divorce from Donna Hanover is not final.


Born not to run

Two days after a group of New Jersey political activists announced plans to draft Bruce Springsteen for this year's U.S. Senate race, as a true representative of the state, the rock star nixed the idea by citing U.S. Gen. William Tecumseh Sherman's famous refusal to seek the presidency in 1884.

"If nominated, I will not run. If elected, I will not serve," Mr. Springsteen said in a statement yesterday on his Web site at www.shorefiremedia.com.

A group called "Independence for New Jersey" said on Tuesday that it was initiating a signature drive to draft Mr. Springsteen as an independent Senate candidate in the general election.


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