- The Washington Times - Thursday, January 9, 2003

Next: Lieberman
Sen. Joseph I. Lieberman will return to his hometown of Stamford, Conn., next week to make his expected announcement that he will run for president in 2004.
Mr. Lieberman, former Vice President Al Gore's running mate in 2000, will make the announcement at his old high school and visit a local diner, an aide told Reuters news agency.
Mr. Lieberman would be the sixth official entrant into the rapidly growing lineup of Democrats vying to challenge President Bush in 2004.
The three-term Connecticut senator had promised he would not run against Mr. Gore, but was freed for a presidential bid by Mr. Gore's decision last month not to seek the presidency. Senate Minority Leader Tom Daschle of South Dakota decided Tuesday not to run, opening up the contest even further.
Watts and Luntz
Former Rep. J.C. Watts Jr. announced yesterday that he will team up in a business with focus-group guru Frank Luntz.
Mr. Watts, an Oklahoma Republican who served as party conference chairman before retiring from Congress this week, said he will become chairman of the J.C. Watts Cos., of which the Luntz partnership will be the flagship subsidiary.
According to a prepared statement released yesterday, the Watts-Luntz firm will "focus on market research, language development and message delivery. The company will provide ad testing, strategic communications, jury testing and diversity-consulting services for corporations, trade associations and non-profits."
Mr. Luntz, who is perhaps best known for leading focus groups on cable network MSNBC, will serve as president of Watts-Luntz Communications.
Mr. Watts also announced that he will serve on the corporate boards of Dillard's Department Stores and Terex Corp.
The race card
Republicans abandoned a decision to shrink the tax-writing House Ways and Means Committee after the Democrats threatened to embroil them in a new controversy over race.
The reversal by the Republicans, the Associated Press reports, came after Democrats complained to reporters that their plan to name Rep. Stephanie Tubbs Jones of Ohio would have been prevented had majority Republicans reduced its size.
Even had the panel been reduced by one seat for each party as they had decided to do just hours earlier Democrats could still have appointed her because one Democrat who served last year retired and another was defeated for re-election.
The episode underscored Republican skittishness on race after the ouster of Sen. Trent Lott from his leadership post after he had spoken wistfully about Strom Thurmond's segregationist presidential run of 1948.
"It's not the congresswoman's race," House Speaker J. Dennis Hastert, Illinois Republican, said in a brief interview when asked whether that was a factor in the final decision to leave the committee's size at last year's ratio of 24 Republicans and 17 Democrats.
"They can appoint whoever they want," Mr. Hastert said. "That doesn't have anything to do with us."
But the committee's top Democrat, Rep. Charles B. Rangel of New York, said he believed race played a role in the Republicans' backing off.
"It becomes too difficult for them, if you look back at Trent Lott, the absence of J.C. Watts, the inability to justify the merit in reducing the size of the committee," said Mr. Rangel, who is black. Mrs. Jones would be the first black woman to serve on the panel.
Dinner party
Bush spokesman Ari Fleischer yesterday testily defended the White House's method and timing of disseminating information on the renomination of President Bush's judicial nominations.
The Washington Post reported in yesterday's editions that "The White House announcement, made at dinnertime on the day Bush unveiled his economic plan, seemed designed to minimize attention."
Said Mr. Fleischer: "I've seen some discussion that this was a dinnertime announcement. If people are eating their dinner between 4:30 p.m. and 5 p.m., I guess they would have noticed it.
"But the package was sent up between 4:30 p.m. and 5 p.m., received by the Senate officially between those hours. I think we distributed here in the press office at it was 5:46 p.m. So if you were eating early, you received it publicly."
A White House official who asked not to be named said, "Although there will be days we may wait until after the networks are off the air to make announcements, the judicial nominations do not fall into that category."
Causing confusion is when White House reporters actually received an e-mail announcing the nominations. Although sent out by the White House at 5:46, many reporters received the e-mail hours later. One reporter at The Washington Times received the e-mail at 9:29 p.m.; a Post reporter received his at 8:50; a Knight Ridder correspondent at 8:13.
On top of that, 40 members of the press who covered the president's economic-stimulus speech in Illinois on Tuesday were completely in the dark. They were taxiing on a Chicago runway at the time the White House placed paper copies of the nominations into bins in the media work area.
Bush and Daley
When President Bush presented his economic plan before the Economic Club of Chicago this week, he took care to acknowledge the presence of the city's mayor, Richard M. Daley, whom he said he was "proud to call a friend."
The president generated an appreciable bit of laughter when he explained the ways in which he and Mr. Daley are alike, the Associated Press reports.
"We're from different political parties, but we have some things in common," Mr. Bush began. "We both married above ourselves. We both have famous and influential brothers. Our dads spent a little time in politics. And we love our country more than we love our political parties," Mr. Bush said.
Mr. Daley's brother, William, was U.S. secretary of commerce in the Clinton administration and played a senior role in the 2000 presidential campaign of former Vice President Al Gore.
Carter's lament
Former President Jimmy Carter said Georgia needs to be more competitive in attracting tourists to its mountains, its beaches and to historic towns, such as Plains, the small farming community where he grew up.
Mr. Carter, Georgia's governor from 1971 to 1975, said he has been distressed since leaving office at the amounts the legislature budgets for tourism.
"When I was governor, Florida was No. 1 and Georgia was second," Mr. Carter said Tuesday. "Now we are at the bottom of all the Southeastern states."
Mr. Carter, the 2002 Nobel Peace Prize winner for humanitarian efforts around the world, said he has asked the incoming governor, Republican Sonny Perdue, to improve funding for tourism the state's second-leading industry behind agriculture.
"He responded favorably," said Mr. Carter, who spoke at the introduction of the state's new 192-page tourism guide.
Cox to lead panel
Rep. Christopher Cox, California Republican, will head the newly created homeland security committee, House Speaker J. Dennis Hastert said yesterday.
Mr. Cox will be the first chairman of the House panel responsible for overseeing the new Homeland Security Department that President Bush signed into law late last year.
"Chris is an excellent candidate" to head the new committee, Mr. Hastert said. Homeland security "will be one of the largest issues before us" this year, the speaker said.
House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi of California will name the top Democrat on the select committee, which will differ from standing committees in that it will focus on specific oversight or investigative functions.

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