- The Washington Times - Monday, November 17, 2003

Polarized party

The Democrats “are splitting into two parties: the party of Clinton and the party of Dean,” Ryan Lizza writes in the New Republic.

“It is easy to think the presidential race has reached a tipping point. One week, assured by his supporters that they will raise all the money he needs, Howard Dean skips out of the restrictive federal matching-funds system. The next, he formally accepts the endorsements of the two most politically powerful unions in the country: the Service Employees International Union (SEIU) and the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees,” Mr. Lizza writes.

“And soon, according to an aide, his campaign will unveil a group of foreign-policy luminaries who had been advising several candidates but have recently decided to back only Dean. The Dean campaign seems to be shedding the last vestiges of insurgency, aiming to build a sense of inevitability and end the race early with decisive victories in Iowa and New Hampshire, like Al Gore in 2000.

“But, for all of his newfound respectability, the buzz from numerous Washington Democrats in the wake of Dean’s extraordinary two weeks has been a hardening of opposition rather than a cascade of previously reluctant supporters endorsing the governor. ‘My sense is that this isn’t tipping anyone towards Dean,’ says a top Beltway Democrat with ties to the Dean campaign. ‘The overwhelming majority here in Washington are more worried.’ Instead of consolidating support within the party establishment, Dean is polarizing it.”

Teddy remembers

Sen. Edward M. Kennedy remembered his slain brothers yesterday, saying he felt loss, but also inspiration, when thinking of them.

Mr. Kennedy, a Massachusetts Democrat and influential liberal who has served in the Senate for four decades, was asked on CBS-TV’s “Face the Nation” about his thoughts as the 40th anniversary of President John F. Kennedy’s assassination approaches on Saturday.

Mr. Kennedy said he feels a “continued deep-seated sense of loss” from the deaths of his brothers and other family members.

President Kennedy was assassinated in Dallas on Nov. 22, 1963. Sen. Robert F. Kennedy was assassinated in Los Angeles on June 6, 1968.

Mr. Kennedy said that he continues “to be inspired by them — their strong appeal to bring out really the best in terms of our ideals and our values and the importance of trying to give something back to the country.”

“They were my heroes,” he said.

No straw poll

Florida Democratic Party leaders yesterday rejected the suggestion of a presidential straw poll in exchange for a commitment from all nine candidates to attend next month’s state convention.

The state party’s central committee, which voted overwhelmingly against a straw poll, expressed concerns that candidates would not attend the convention and the poll controversy would make it difficult to attract other speakers, the Associated Press reports.

The idea had growing support until the Democratic National Committee wrote the state party saying none of the candidates would attend the Dec. 5-7 convention if party activists voted on their preference for a presidential nominee.

Candidates don’t want the poll because it draws resources that could be used in the important early primaries and caucuses, state party Chairman Scott Maddox told the 81-member committee. Florida’s primary isn’t until March 9 — after 28 other states.

At best, three candidates would attend a Florida convention if the delegates were going to go ahead and vote in a straw poll, he said.

“One person is going to love it and eight people are going to hate it,” Mr. Maddox said. “It is costly, it is expensive, and it takes them out of the delegate race that they’re currently in. And if they lose at this stage, it is the death knell for several.”

Clark’s stepbrother

Kennard Clark learned to his surprise that he has a stepbrother, and the guy’s running for president.

The 71-year-old surgeon in Arlington, Texas, said his father disappeared shortly after Kennard graduated high school in 1950. Unbeknownst to Kennard, Victor Clark was married again by 1954 and living with his wife and her son, Wesley, in Little Rock, where Kennard went to school until 10th grade.

Wesley Clark, former NATO supreme commander and current Democratic candidate for president, said he knew that his stepfather, whose name he took and who adopted him, had had a previous family that had included a son. The Arkansas Democrat-Gazette reported yesterday that Kennard didn’t know about his stepbrother until the paper told him.

The men say they want to meet but haven’t set a time or place. “I wouldn’t want it to be a public thing, but I would like to talk to him about Dad,” Kennard Clark said.

“I’d like to meet him, too,” Wesley Clark said.

Agreeing with McCain

The day after a helicopter crash killed 17 American soldiers in Iraq, Democratic presidential hopeful Joe Lieberman said more American troops should be sent to the war zone.

Mr. Lieberman, who received a formal endorsement yesterday from activists who helped Republican John McCain win the 2000 New Hampshire primary, called it another political viewpoint he shares with the Arizona senator.

“We have to be ready to make the unpopular political decision,” he said. “I agree with McCain again: We have to send over some more American troops, now, to protect the ones that are there.”

He also favors rotating out the current occupying forces who, he says, were cheated by extended stays overseas.

The Connecticut senator blamed President Bush for failing to line up military support from other countries, but said the 130,000 U.S. soldiers in Iraq need help now.

“We need help, and we should make sure help is on the way to them soon,” Mr. Lieberman said. “And it’s gotta be American help.”

Rolling the dice

With the roll of the dice and the flash of cameras, Mark Allen won a third term as the mayor of Washington Terrace, Utah.

Mr. Allen and challenger Robert Garside tied in a Nov. 4 election with 724 votes each. Under Utah law, tie votes must be decided by drawing lots, which can mean anything from flipping a coin to drawing a name out of a hat.

“We felt rolling dice was a more fair way to make a choice,” city recorder Shari Peterson said.

With quick flicks of their wrists, Mr. Allen rolled a 4 and a 1 Friday for the top score, while Mr. Garside rolled a pair of 2s.

Both candidates said the race’s outcome was fair.

Even though he lost, Mr. Garside said he still planned to be a thorn in city hall’s side, the Associated Press reports.

“I have some issues I need resolved,” he said.

Mr. Allen said he would spend his next two years working on designs for a new city hall and park and plotting the city’s future.

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

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