- The Washington Times - Tuesday, August 19, 2003

Reagan’s letters

A collection of former President Ronald Reagan’s never-before-seen personal letters, drawn from more than 6,500 he wrote over more than half a century, will be published next month.

Mr. Reagan’s longtime advisers say that the book is going to be heavily promoted by the national news media, including excerpts in Time magazine and on the ABC News show, “This Week with George Stephanopolous,” who will interview some of the people Mr. Reagan wrote to during his governorship and presidency.

Martin Anderson, who was Mr. Reagan’s chief White House domestic adviser and is now a senior scholar at the Hoover Institution, selected 1,100 of the letters — most of them handwritten — that will be published by the Free Press, a division of Simon and Shuster.

“They tell a stunning tale,” Mr. Anderson told Donald Lambro, chief political reporter for The Washington Times. “These are his private letters to friends and enemies. They show him intimately involved in overseeing policy. They show him running everything.”

The book will go on sale Sept. 22, one day after ABC News devotes a full hour to the book. Until then, the book’s contents are being closely guarded by the publisher, which has decided not to send out early galleys for advance reviews.

Mr. Anderson also was a co-editor of an earlier Reagan book, “In His Own Hand,” a collection of Mr. Reagan’s radio commentaries that became a best seller several years ago.

Dean soars

Support for presidential hopeful Howard Dean jumped among New Hampshire Democrats during the past month, buoyed in part by a television advertising campaign, according to a poll released yesterday.

The poll by the independent, nonpartisan American Research Group showed that 28 percent of likely Democratic voters said they would choose Mr. Dean in New Hampshire’s first-in-the-nation state primary in January, up from 19 percent last month.

The former Vermont governor now leads his nearest rival, Sen. John Kerry of Massachusetts, by 7 percentage points, the poll found. It marked the first time this year that Mr. Dean has led Mr. Kerry in the monthly poll, although nearly a third of those surveyed said they were still undecided.

Twenty-one percent of likely Democratic voters said they would vote for Mr. Kerry, down from 25 percent last month. Rep. Richard A. Gephardt of Missouri was the third choice with 10 percent of support, unchanged from last month.

Mr. Dean, Mr. Kerry and Mr. Gephardt were the only candidates with double-digit ballot preference, as Connecticut Sen. Joe Lieberman’s support fell to 4 percent from 6 percent, Reuters reported.

The pollsters said the spike in Mr. Dean’s support came after he became the first presidential candidate of the campaign to air television ads in New Hampshire earlier this month.

Mr. Dean’s campaign announced yesterday it would launch a new television ad in New Hampshire this week.

The poll results were based on 600 completed telephone interviews among a random sample of registered Democrats and undeclared voters in New Hampshire. The survey had a 4-point margin of error in either direction.

Exiles warn GOP

Texas Senate Democrats in self-imposed exile in New Mexico promised to retaliate with “legal action” against their Republican colleagues if sanctions aren’t lifted against them and their staffs.

The Republican-dominated Senate has imposed financial and other penalties on 11 Democratic senators who fled to Albuquerque, N.M., on July 28. The Democrats prevented the quorum needed to consider a Republican congressional-redistricting plan.

The 11 Democrats did not specify what action they would take, but said in a letter Monday to Republican leaders that if punitive measures against them were not rescinded by yesterday afternoon, “we will take appropriate legal action.”

For their own good

When liberals tell Republicans to avoid an issue, what should the GOP do?

That’s the question one conservative activist raises after reading an article about same-sex “marriage” in Business Week: “Says Winnie Stachelberg, political director of the gay and lesbian Human Rights Campaign: ‘If either political party attempts to make a wedge issue out of this, it will backfire.’”

In a private e-mail message to fellow conservatives, Robert Knight, director of the Culture & Family Institute, an affiliate of Concerned Women for America, suggests that’s a good signal Republicans should do just the opposite.

“Memo to GOP: Make it a HUGE issue. Even a dyed-in-the-wool Democratic homosexual activist like Winnie wants to steer the debate AWAY from this. And The New York Times has been pushing this fiction, too, that it would somehow ‘hurt’ the GOP if this emerged as a big issue. Sure it would. … They ALWAYS counsel Republicans to steer to the left, for the GOP’s own good, of course.”

Kempthorne’s focus

Idaho Gov. Dirk Kempthorne said yesterday that, as leader of the National Governors Association, he will emphasize long-term care — a problem for state budgets, the country’s aging population and his own parents.

Mr. Kempthorne’s 86-year-old mother had a stroke five years ago and is being cared for by his 87-year-old father. But macular degeneration has taken his father’s sight, so he can’t drive or cook and has hired a caretaker to help them live together at home.

Mr. Kempthorne said he will call two national forums and other regional workshops to focus on medication, technology, finances and government policy that can improve long-term care, the Associated Press reports.

Mr. Kempthorne, a Republican who has served in the U.S. Senate and as mayor of Boise, took over leadership from Democratic Kentucky Gov. Paul E. Patton at the close of the NGA’s summer meeting in Indianapolis yesterday.

Every incoming NGA chairman selects an initiative to focus on during the year.

Relief for soldiers

President Bush yesterday signed the so-called “HEROES bill” to provide student-loan relief to soldiers fighting overseas. Essentially, the bill gives the secretary of education the authority to waive interest payments soldiers owe on student loans while in combat.

“Today is an important day for our men and women in uniform,” said Rep. John Kline, Minnesota Republican, who sponsored the legislation.

The Higher Education Relief Opportunities for Students Act of 2003 extends benefits already in place for troops, which were set to expire at the end of this month.

The bill passed the House in April, less than a week after it was introduced, but stalled for months in a Senate committee.

Eventually, Sen. John Edwards, North Carolina Democrat and presidential aspirant, was fingered as the member of the committee who was secretly blocking the bill.

Mr. Edwards said he preferred a similar bill that was more beneficial to the troops. But after an uproar over stalling the popular legislation, Mr. Edwards denied that he was the one blocking it.

Late last month, the bill passed the Senate without opposition.

Media tamer

James R. Wilkinson, who was press secretary and political director for former House Majority Leader Dick Army of Texas, will head press operations at the Republican National Convention in New York City next summer, convention manager Bill Harris announced yesterday.

The appointment of Mr. Wilkinson, who now directs strategic communications for the U.S. Central Command in Tampa, Fla., “matters because this is a different kind of convention,” said Republican National Committee Communications Director Jim Dyke.

“It requires a seasoned veteran who understands our president and our party,” he said. Mr. Wilkinson got that experience working for Mr. Bush as deputy communications director for planning in 2001 and 2002.

Greg Pierce can be reached at 202/636-3285 or gpierce@washingtontimes.com.

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