- The Washington Times - Wednesday, August 27, 2003

Dean flying high

Howard Dean’s campaign for the Democratic presidential nomination is now predicting it will raise $10.3 million in the three months ending Sept. 30 and announced it would run television ads in six states starting this week.

Momentum and a total of $7.6 million raised in April, May and June has allowed the former Vermont governor’s once small-budget operation to move into higher gear, Reuters reports. Recent polls show Mr. Dean leading in Iowa and New Hampshire, sites of the first caucus and primary votes, respectively, in January.

“Based on what’s coming in at events and online, we now believe we’re on pace to set a goal of $10.3 million,” campaign manager Joe Trippi told reporters in Chicago at the second-to-last stop on a four-day, 10-city tour.

Mr. Trippi said the campaign would begin running TV spots in selected markets in Arizona, New Mexico, Oklahoma, South Carolina, Washington and Wisconsin on Friday. He expected the cost to be around $1 million and said the front-loaded nomination process meant it was essential to get on the air in the early states.

The ad, which will run for two weeks, takes aim at President Bush’s tax cuts, as well as at the invasion of Iraq and the Democrats who backed it.

“I opposed the war with Iraq when too many Democrats supported it because I want a foreign policy consistent with American values,” Mr. Dean says in the ad.

Dean’s Cuba policy

As he surges to the top of the race for the 2004 Democratic presidential nomination and begins to think about a potential contest against President Bush, former Vermont Gov. Howard Dean says he is shifting his views on the trade embargo with Cuba, the Miami Herald reports.

Speaking to reporters during a four-day national campaign swing, Mr. Dean said he supports rolling back the embargo in order to encourage human rights advancements — but citing Fidel Castro’s recent crackdowns on dissidents, said that in recent months he has become convinced that “we can’t do it right now.”

Mr. Dean called Cuba a “political question,” and said recent developments on the island would prevent his goal of “constructive engagement of Cuba.”

“If you would have asked me six months ago, I would have said we should begin to ease the embargo in return for human rights concessions,” he said, responding to a question from a Herald reporter at a dinner Sunday night in Seattle. “But you can’t do it now because Castro has just locked up a huge number of human rights activists and put them in prison and [held] show trials. You can’t reward that kind of behavior if what you want to do is link human rights behavior with foreign trade.”

Texas opinion

Although Texans are sharply divided on the issue of congressional redistricting, nearly two out of three oppose the Democratic walkouts designed to prevent its passage in the Legislature, a poll released Monday shows.

According to the Scripps Howard Texas Poll, 62 percent of those surveyed oppose the decision by 11 Democratic senators to leave the state in order to strip Republican leaders of the quorum necessary to conduct business. Only 29 percent said they supported it, the Fort Worth Star-Telegram reports.

On the flip side, just 40 percent of those polled support redrawing congressional lines now, compared with 46 percent who expressed opposition.

Personal foul

Don’t expect Roy S. Johnson to be tuning into ESPN’s “Sunday NFL Countdown” very often this season.

“I don’t want to listen to Rush Limbaugh,” the Sports Illustrated writer says of Mr. Limbaugh, who’s been hired as a commentator by the cable sports network. “I just don’t need the aggravation.

“We simply disagree on too many issues. The bombastic, nationally syndicated radio talk-show host has pummeled just about anyone who isn’t a card-carrying citizen of his vision of good ol’ white-bread U.S. of A. That would include feminists, gays, blacks, immigrants — if I left anyone out, please raise your hand!

“In a reasonable world … I wouldn’t have to listen to his Neanderthal opinions. But because I am an NFL fan who enjoys watching ESPN’s NFL pregame show each Sunday, I no longer have that choice. Limbaugh has entered the NFL universe, and I am not happy about it,” Mr. Johnson writes on the Sports Illustrated Web site (www.si.com).

Mr. Limbaugh does not represent “fans who are relatives and friends of NFL players, roughly two-thirds of whom are African-American,” Mr. Johnson says. “Indeed, Limbaugh doesn’t seem to represent any NFL fan who believes in the value of varied cultures.”

Bloomberg’s plan

A panel appointed by New York Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg approved a plan he favors to establish nonpartisan elections in the city, setting up a public vote on the proposal in November.

The proposal put on the ballot Monday by the Charter Revision Commission would eliminate the Democratic and Republican party primaries. Instead, a September election including all candidates would be followed by a November runoff between the top two vote-getters.

Candidates would be allowed to state their political parties on the September ballot. But those enrolled in the city campaign-finance program, which provides matching funds, would not be allowed to accept help from political parties.

The plan, if approved by voters, would take effect after the November 2005 general election in New York City, the Associated Press reports. Those running in the nonpartisan elections would include candidates for mayor, public advocate, city comptroller, City Council and borough president.

The Democratic Party adamantly opposes nonpartisan elections, saying party labels help voters identify candidates’ viewpoints. The city has five registered Democrats for each Republican.

Pataki and Arnold

New York’s Republican Gov. George E. Pataki will throw his support behind actor Arnold Schwarzenegger’s bid for governor of California, anonymous sources told Reuters news agency.

Mr. Pataki plans to fly to California next month to campaign for the Republican actor-turned-candidate, the British wire service reported yesterday.

Pataki fund-raisers, led by New York Jets football team owner Robert Wood Johnson, are planning a $1,000-a-plate dinner in New York for Mr. Schwarzenegger. Exact details of the event are yet to be finalized, and it is uncertain whether the candidate will attend, they said.

Despite the planned fund raising, the New York governor has not officially endorsed Mr. Schwarzenegger.

Gen. Clark’s grapevine

Retired Gen. Wesley Clark is complaining, based on rumors, that the Big Bad Bush is out to get him. The former CNN military analyst told a Phoenix radio station Monday the White House pressured the cable network to fire him.

“The White House actually back in February apparently tried to get me knocked off CNN and they wanted to do this because they were afraid that I would raise issues with their conduct of the war,” Gen. Clark told radio station KTAR AM-620. “Apparently they called CNN. I don’t have all the proof on this because they didn’t call me. I’ve only heard rumors about it.”

A report on the Web site of Fox News quoted White House officials as “adamant” they “never tried to get Wesley Clark kicked off the air in any way, shape or form.” Beyond that, the White House “won’t respond to rumors,” Fox reports.

CNN had no immediate comment on the general’s accusations. Gen. Clark was one of CNN’s military analysts and commentators during the Iraq war, but left in June to mull a possible presidential bid.

“I had a very clear understanding with CNN that if I ever decided to go forward in considering becoming a political candidate that I would at that point leave CNN. That’s what I did in June,” he said.

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

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