“The six Democratic candidates for president have agreed to appear on the same stage for the first time in the campaign to commemorate the 30th anniversary of the Supreme Court decision removing restrictions on abortion,” the New York Times reports.
“The quick agreement by the Democratic candidates to attend the fund-raising dinner next Tuesday [at the Omni Shoreham hotel in the District] reflects a growing consensus among Democrats and some Republicans that abortion rights could prove to be a central issue in the 2004 presidential election and perhaps even in the Democratic primaries, because of some differences among the Democratic candidates on the issue,” reporter Adam Nagourney writes.
“The six candidates are attending the event for Naral Pro-Choice America, the abortion rights group formerly known as the National Abortion and Reproductive Rights Action League, to mark the Roe v. Wade decision three decades ago.”
The candidates, who are all expected to speak at the dinner, are Sen. John Edwards of North Carolina, Rep. Richard A. Gephardt of Missouri, Sen. John Kerry of Massachusetts, Sen. Joseph I. Lieberman of Connecticut, the Rev. Al Sharpton, and former Vermont Gov. Howard Dean.
Sen. Joseph I. Lieberman is “redefining Judaism to mean whatever he wants it to mean,” says Rabbi William Handler of Jews for Morality.
Mr. Handler is angry that Mr. Lieberman a Connecticut Democrat who recently declared himself a presidential candidate supports partial-birth abortion and homosexual rights, while publicly claiming to be an Orthodox Jew.
“He’s not an Orthodox Jew, he’s an orthodox liberal,” Mr. Handler tells The Washington Times. Orthodox Judaism condemns both abortion and homosexual acts, he explains.
“Our opposition to Sen. Lieberman goes back a good six or seven years, at least,” says Rabbi Yehuda Levin, also of Jews for Morality. In 1997, Mr. Lieberman was one of five Senate sponsors of the Employment Non-Discrimination Act, a bill that would have made homosexuals a protected class under federal employment law.
“What pained me at the time was that [Mr. Lieberman] made reference to his Jewish roots and traditions as the rationale for his support for advancing the homosexual agenda,” Mr. Levin says.
The Rev. Al Sharpton was 90 minutes late last week to his first post-presidential announcement event in Boston, but the Democratic hopeful treated Oakland’s NAACP chapter even worse.
At the last minute, he opted out of an appearance at last week’s conference on self-reliance in Oakland’s beleaguered black community, apparently so he could accept a larger fee to speak elsewhere.
The Oakland chapter headed by unabashed Republican Shannon Reeves had purchased a plane ticket and reserved a hotel room, car and driver for Mr. Sharpton’s appearance at the forum, which also included appearances by Guardian Angels founder Curtis Sliwa; Robert Woodson, founder and president of the National Center for Neighborhood Enterprise; and conservative talk-show host Larry Elder.
Mr. Sharpton was to receive $1,500 for his talk, sources tell The Washington Times. But the day before his speech, he canceled, instead speaking at the black National Newspaper Publishers Association convention in Beverly Hills for a larger sum, our source says.
The cancellation, just 24 hours before the event, meant the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People branch was stuck with a nonrefundable airline ticket from New York to Oakland.
Ryan on ‘Oprah’
Former Illinois Gov. George Ryan went on Oprah Winfrey’s television show yesterday to defend his grant of clemency to all 167 inmates on Illinois’ death row, stressing that the convicted killers will remain behind bars for the rest of their lives.
He said that because of flaws in the criminal justice system, “to be safe the only solution was to give everybody clemency” and commute their sentences to life in prison.
“And that’s what I think most people don’t understand. These people are not going to be on the streets. They are going to be in jail for the rest of their lives,” he said.
Also on the live broadcast were three of four men whom Mr. Ryan pardoned outright, the Associated Press reports. He said the only evidence against them was obtained through beatings and torture.
Asked by Miss Winfrey whether they felt free, one of the four, Leroy Orange, said: “I feel physically free, but mentally, spiritually I don’t care for the accusations that [Mr. Ryan] did the wrong thing.”
MoveOn.org a group founded to defend President Clinton from impeachment is now attacking Republicans by revising the infamous 1964 “Daisy” ad, warning that President Bush’s campaign against Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein could spark nuclear Armageddon.
Like the original, the 30-second ad by the Internet-based anti-war group depicts a girl plucking petals from a daisy along with a missile-launch countdown and a nuclear mushroom cloud.
The ad includes scenes of military escalation before the mushroom cloud appears. Then the screen goes black, with a warning that a war might end quickly or it might spread to other countries and end with “the unthinkable.”
The ad ends with the message: “Maybe that’s why the overwhelming majority of Americans say to President Bush: Let the inspections work.”
Eli Pariser, MoveOn.org’s international campaign director, told the Associated Press that his group “wanted to run an ad that would highlight that very real possibility [of nuclear war] and help encourage a national discussion.”
MoveOn.org, founded in San Francisco in 1998 to lobby against the Clinton impeachment, also has organized an online signature campaign against the war, and last month spent more than $300,000 on newspaper ads.
The original “Daisy” ad was produced by the Democratic campaign of President Johnson to paint his Republican challenger, Sen. Barry Goldwater, as an extremist who would cause a nuclear war with the Soviet Union. The ad created such negative reaction that it was pulled after only one showing, but Mr. Johnson went on to a landslide victory.
MoveOn.org released its version to the media yesterday and was to air the ad today in 13 major U.S. cities at a cost of $400,000.
Putting out fires
Some senators are also trying to be firefighters.
Sen. Robert F. Bennett, Utah Republican, carried a red plastic fireman’s hat with him Tuesday afternoon a reward for a speech he made on the Senate floor earlier that day. “Best floor speech,” he told curious reporters. He said Senate Republican Conference Vice Chairman Kay Bailey Hutchison of Texas is giving the reward each week to the member who does the best job of “putting out fires.”
Earlier that day, Mr. Bennett gave a rousing floor speech attacking Democrats for delaying Republican efforts to organize the Senate.
When asked if he would have to give his prize back for next week’s winner, he joked that they probably can afford to give them out each week. “I think you can get them for $1.98 at Toys R Us,” he said.
Haley Barbour, who led the Republican National Committee in the mid-1990s, told potential campaign donors he plans to run for Mississippi governor this year.
“I won’t formally announce for some time, but I want you to know in advance,” Mr. Barbour said in a letter arriving at homes this week.
Democratic Gov. Ronnie Musgrove is expected to seek re-election.