- The Washington Times - Monday, June 30, 2003

Not-so-typical ‘victim’

Earlier this month, the Media Research Center reported what it called the “strange coincidence of the same elderly woman being featured as a typical victim of the high cost of prescription drugs by both CBS News and ABC News — two years apart.”

So maybe it should be no surprise that NBC should join the crowd in featuring Pat Roussos of Connecticut, apparently every TV news reporter’s favorite victim of high drug costs. Or maybe the problem is so overblown that she is the only such victim U.S. TV networks can find.

The center says a story on the prescription-drug bill reported by Norah O’Donnell on last Monday’s “NBC Nightly News” quoted a spokesman for the AARP, which lobbies for the elderly, followed by a “typical victim.” Miss O’Donnell said the victim was “77-year-old Pat Roussos of Connecticut, who has arthritis, diabetes and high blood pressure. Her out-of-pocket drug costs are as much as $6,500 a year.”

The center said, “But it turns out that NBC News should have labeled Roussos an AARP spokesperson as well since she’s the ‘Connecticut Community Coordinator’ for AARP who ‘oversees the state’s 72 chapters,’ according to an AARP newsletter.”

The $6 million man

Howard Dean says he has raised $6 million in campaign funds this quarter. That sets a high bar for the other eight candidates seeking the Democratic nomination for president.

The second quarter ends today, and the reports are due July 15, but Mr. Dean’s early announcement sets a benchmark and will probably send the other candidates scrambling to announce their own preliminary numbers soon.

Campaign watchers expect most campaigns to report $4 million to $6 million raised this quarter. Sen. John Edwards, North Carolina Democrat, led the first quarter, with $7.4 million raised, and Sen. John Kerry, Massachusetts Democrat, was second, with $7 million.

Mr. Dean, former governor of Vermont, credited his online contributions for a big late burst this quarter. He said he raised $2.8 million in eight days, including $2 million from Internet contributions. And on June 27 alone he raised more than $500,000 online, he said.

Rep. Dennis J. Kucinich, Ohio Democrat, said last week that he has raised $1 million this quarter, and that that should put an end to him being called a fringe candidate.

“No campaign has grown so much in only four months,” he said in an e-mail to supporters.

Hispanic primaries

Many of the Democratic presidential candidates made their campaign pitches, including blasting the Bush administration’s immigration policies, to the National Association of Elected Latino Officials meeting in Phoenix this weekend — and for good reason.

With New Mexico and Arizona having primaries or caucuses Feb. 3, two weeks after Iowa’s caucuses and a week after the New Hampshire primary, Hispanics will play their biggest role yet in a presidential primary, says Adam J. Segal, director of the Hispanic Voter Project at Johns Hopkins University.

With Hispanics making up 42.1 percent of New Mexico’s population and 25.3 percent of Arizona’s, “the growing Hispanic communities in early primary states have greater ability to influence the outcome of primaries than at any previous time,” Mr. Segal writes in a report.

Republicans are courting Hispanic votes with more fervor than ever after Mr. Bush won 35 percent of their votes in 2000. Mr. Segal says Democrats, who put less effort than Republicans into Hispanic outreach in 2000, are intent on changing that and are hoping these early primaries help them spread the word that they are interested in Hispanic voters.

One constant theme is immigration.

“The current policy at the border is immoral and unacceptable, and we cannot use 9/11 as an excuse for not changing that policy,” Sen. Joe Lieberman, Connecticut Democrat and presidential hopeful, told the conference by satellite feed Friday.

‘Affluence testing’

Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist predicted that the Medicare bill that comes out of a House-Senate conference will include “affluence testing,” which would make upper-income seniors pay more than others for their Medicare benefits.

The House and Senate versions included means testing for upper-income seniors, with the Senate’s provisions passing by a 59-38 vote. But in the later hours Thursday, Sen. Edward M. Kennedy, Massachusetts Democrat, threatened to block final passage of the bill unless the provisions were struck.

Leaders agreed, to win passage, but Mr. Frist says the final bill that comes back from House-Senate negotiations should include what he called affluence testing for richer seniors. The House bill begins means testing at $60,000, while the Senate amendment would have begun it at $75,000.

Still, Mr. Frist said, the vast majority of means testing in the bill is to the benefit of low-income seniors.

“Low-income seniors are going to get almost all of their prescription drugs paid for. So it is heavily means tested to the advantage of low-income individuals in both bills,” he said.

Strom’s way

“On tens of thousands of letters to constituents carefully cataloged at the Strom Thurmond Institute at Clemson University,” Pat Butler recalls in the State newspaper in Columbia, S.C., “the last line is nearly always the same:

“‘If there is ever anything I can do for you as your senator, please do not hesitate to call on me.’ …

“Thurmond loved nothing more than to help the citizens of South Carolina — he never called them ‘constituents’ — resolve their problems with whatever government agency was vexing them. If that involved berating some functionary who had refused to budge from the letter of the law, he loved it even more. …

“Thurmond also combed the newspapers for South Carolinians worthy of congratulations, writing to brides and beauty queens, sheriffs and Shriners. …

“Thurmond went through the papers himself every day, aides said, first the obituaries, then the marriages, circling the names of people he knew. Then he’d dictate letters to grieving widows or beautiful brides.

“And whenever possible, he tried to personally meet any South Carolina resident who dropped by his office. Thurmond was known to chat in his office with a South Carolinian while a U.S. Supreme Court Justice cooled his heels in the waiting room.”

‘Partisan furor’

More than various policy details, what’s notable about Democratic presidential candidate Howard Dean “is his partisan furor,” the Wall Street Journal says.

“While articulate and smart, he’s also angry, especially at Mr. Bush. The President isn’t merely wrong, he’s a liar. He isn’t merely conservative, he’s a ‘radical’ who is ‘dismantling the New Deal.’ The Bush EPA wants ‘to put more pollution into the air,’ and his tax cut is denying health care for kids.

“In all of this Mr. Dean is touching something deep in the current Democratic psyche,” the newspaper said in an editorial.

“The polls all show that while most Americans like Mr. Bush and approve of his performance, a large core of Democrats loathe him and despise his policies. Without control of the White House or any part of Congress for the first time in 50 years, they are increasingly frustrated and angry. Their mood matches that of the liberal pundit class, whose bile seeps through nearly every column. They’re mad as hell and they’re not going to take it anymore. Mr. Dean is doing well because he’s as mad as they are.

“Readers of these columns won’t be surprised to learn that we doubt this is a winning platform. Americans have come to like and trust Mr. Bush, and Democrats won’t prevail in 2004 by asking, as Bob Dole did in 1996, ‘Where’s the outrage?’ There’s a debate to be made on GOP policies, but anger is not an agenda, especially in a nation as inherently optimistic as America. The danger for the Democrats in 2004 is that they will indulge their outraged inner liberal rather than compete for the political center.”

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

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