- The Washington Times - Tuesday, August 26, 2003

Rudy and Arnold

Former New York Mayor Rudolph W. Giuliani is ready to lend a helping hand to Arnold Schwarzenegger in the California gubernatorial-recall election, the New York Post reports, citing anonymous sources.

Mr. Giuliani is an old friend of Bill Simon, a Republican who withdrew from the race on Saturday. That clears the way for Mr. Giuliani to do what he can for the Terminator.

“Rudy will support him, and if it helps him [to campaign with Mr. Giuliani], I think we’ll do it,” a source identified as being close to Mr. Giuliani told reporter Deborah Orin.

Mr. Giuliani is on a trip to Australia and will not return until Friday.

Mr. Simon has not endorsed anyone in the contest, but Mr. Giuliani “is expected to consult with Simon and try to convince him to also enlist in Arnie’s army,” the reporter said.

Gibbons’ decision

Rep. Jim Gibbons, Nevada Republican, has decided not to challenge Democratic Sen. Harry Reid next year in what was expected to be one of the most hotly contested races for the U.S. Senate.

Mr. Gibbons said yesterday that his desire to work on House committees against terrorism prompted him not to seek the nomination.

“There is no doubt in my mind that I could defeat the existing senator on Election Day, but my decision has nothing to do with Sen. Harry Reid,” Mr. Gibbons said at a news conference.

Mr. Reid, 64, holds the No. 2 position in the Democratic leadership in the Senate and has been repeatedly at odds with President Bush and his administration. White House officials and other nationally prominent Republicans encouraged Mr. Gibbons to make the Senate run, the Associated Press reports.

Mr. Gibbons, 58, a decorated former combat pilot and the only member of Congress to serve in Vietnam and Iraq, is a senior member of the House Intelligence Committee. He is considered a potential successor to retiring Rep. Porter J. Goss, Florida Republican, as committee chairman.

Strange bedfellows

Alabama Republican Gov. Bob Riley has his own party opposing him and the Democratic Party supporting him on the biggest tax increase in state history.

By a vote of 122-100 Saturday, the State Republican Executive Committee approved a resolution saying the party recommends a “no” vote on Mr. Riley’s plan in a Sept. 9 referendum.

“The Republican Party is and always has been the party of lower taxes and streamlined government,” the resolution said.

Mr. Riley’s plan would raise $1.2 billion in new taxes, phased in over four years. The revenue would erase a $675 million budget deficit and pay for new programs, including college scholarships, a longer school year and computers in every school, Mr. Riley said.

Taxes on property, cigarettes and various services would rise. The plan also would restrict legislative spending on pet projects and set other rules on how tax money is used.

Mr. Riley, who attended the Republican meeting, said he didn’t expect to win the vote, but was surprised at its closeness. “I am encouraged to know there was that much support for the plan,” he said.

A week earlier, the executive board of the state Democratic Party voted to support Mr. Riley’s tax and accountability plan, known as Amendment One, saying it represented “substantial reform.”

Waiting for Clark

“The script for the 2004 Democratic primary has not worked out as written,” Amy Sullivan writes in the September issue of the Washington Monthly.

“By this time, with nine candidates in the running — representing various wings of the party and several regions of the country — one or two were supposed to have caught fire. But so far, after a half-dozen cattle calls, a full round of ‘Meet the Press’ appearances, and an untold number of pancake breakfasts, there is no real front-runner,” the writer said.

“The early favorites, like Joe Lieberman and John Edwards, are struggling. John Kerry has raised money, but not hopes or excitement. The one guy who has surged ahead, Howard Dean, is widely seen as, in Texas-speak, snakebit. He was adamantly against the war in Iraq, which 62 percent of the country still supports, and while he is no dove — he says he supported every post-Vietnam U.S. intervention through Kosovo — he lacks national security experience. Leading Democrats are increasingly worried that he just can’t beat Bush next year. And so are voters.

“Instead of coalescing around one or two strong possibilities, likely voters are withdrawing their support. Today, there are actually more undecided Democrats than there were just a few months ago. The number stood at 15 percent in May and 30 percent in early July. In a late July Zogby poll, almost half of those Democrats polled — 48 percent — said they wish they had other candidates to choose from.

“Democrats want somebody else to run. And that somebody could be Wesley Clark, the former Supreme Allied Commander of NATO and current undeclared candidate for the Democratic nomination, who has assured supporters that he will announce his intentions sometime this month.”

Incompetent candidate

“First as governor and lately as U.S. senator, Bob Graham has won five statewide races in Florida, which is no mean feat, and must have required some considerable skill,” David Tell writes in the Weekly Standard.

“So how come Graham is such an unqualifiedly, amazingly, matchlessly incompetent presidential candidate?” asks Mr. Tell, after watching Mr. Graham’s performance before the Iowa Federation of Labor a couple of weeks ago in Waterloo.

“It is a mystery for the ages. Here in Waterloo he’s several minutes into an incomprehensible — and practically inaudible — discussion of an economic-policy white paper he’s released before the moderator, IFL President Mark Smith, finally and mercifully interrupts to remind the senator that he hasn’t been speaking into the mike.

“Asked about health care, Graham wanders deep into the weeds, admits he hasn’t fully refined his thinking on the subject, promises to make public the ‘rest’ of his health care plan ‘soon,’ and then unaccountably blurts out that Dick Gephardt’s already-released rival plan has ‘somewhat set the standard for this debate.’ By the time Graham starts reading his closing statement, hardly bothering to look up at his audience, there is coughing and chatter throughout the room.”

Bush’s options

“For President Bush, suddenly every option in Iraq looks bad,” Ronald Brownstein writes in the Los Angeles Times.

“To simply stay the course locks him onto a trajectory that virtually guarantees steady U.S. casualties and rising violence against international and Iraqi targets,” Mr. Brownstein said.

“Bolstering the force in Iraq with more American troops could increase security — but provide ammunition to critics who accused the administration of underestimating from the outset the requirements of reconstructing the country, while compounding the strain on a U.S. military already stretched thin by commitments around the world.

“Providing the United Nations a larger role in the reconstruction would generate more troops at less cost — but give the Democrats running for Bush’s job in 2004 a huge opening to argue that the administration was wrong all along to assume it could invade and rebuild Iraq without broad international support.

“For Bush, none of these options can look very attractive. The real question may be which is the least worst option. His choice will reveal much about his style of leadership.”

Greg Pierce can be reached at 202/636-3285 or [email protected]

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