- The Washington Times - Monday, November 24, 2003

About-face

We were surprised to see New Jersey Sen. Jon Corzine, chairman of the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee, show up at a National Press Club press conference for MoveOn.org — helping to introduce the “independent” organization’s new TV ads attacking President Bush.

As you might know, MoveOn.org is one of several groups to receive millions of dollars in “soft money” from billionaire activist George Soros, who is doling out huge wads of cash to anybody who can help defeat Mr. Bush.

But back to Mr. Corzine. It becomes obvious that, like other Capitol Hill politicians, he has had a recent change of heart when it comes to injecting soft money in politics. Here’s what the good senator had to say just last year during debate on campaign-finance reform:

“For the past several years, the amount of unregulated soft money in our campaign system has reached staggering proportions. Soft money has had the insidious effect of holding too many political candidates accountable to large individual donors, rather than the people they are elected to represent … [and] was a scourge on our political process that we are much better off without.”

Turning point

Reacting to Sen. John Kerry’s newly announced proposals to strengthen U.S. productivity, the National Association of Manufacturers’ (NAM) chief advocate for small- and medium-sized manufacturers says he’s “heartened to see that another presidential candidate appears to understand just how important small manufacturers are to our U.S. economy.”

“This appears to be a turning point for Senator Kerry, who compiled but a 7 percent NAM Key Vote rating during the 107th Congress while Massachusetts was on its way to losing more than 80,000 factory jobs since July 2000,” NAM Senior Vice President Patrick Cleary says.

“The senator’s new proposals are welcomed, but until he and his political allies are willing to take real action against self-imposed domestic costs, American manufacturers will be hamstrung in the face of unprecedented global competition.”

Tank to RV

No, that wasn’t Marion Barry, former mayor of Washington, but Marion Berry, U.S. House member from Arkansas, on hand at Union Station to help begin retired Gen. Wesley Clark’s presidential campaign.

The Arkansas Democrat helped Mr. Clark kick off his “Race for America” — a 12-day, two-RV tour that will travel to at least a dozen states spreading the message of a “New American Patriotism.”

Clark supporters in Little Rock, Ark., and Washington sent off southbound and northbound RVs.

Round two

Eggs and grits are greeting former Clinton White House Chief of Staff Erskine Bowles, back for “round two” in his quest to reach Capitol Hill. As part of his 2004 Senate campaign, the North Carolina investment banker was most recently in Kinston smiling, shaking hands and politicking.

Losing the 2002 Senate race to Republican Elizabeth Dole, Mr. Bowles now has his eyes on the seat being vacated by Democratic Sen. John Edwards, who covets the chair in the Oval Office.

Excluding others

A complaint has been filed with the Federal Election Commission charging that at least six Democratic primary debates held between May 4 and Oct. 26 violate FEC regulations requiring “pre-established objective criteria” in determining which presidential candidates are eligible to participate.

The complaint was filed by the Committee for a Unified Independent Party, and names as respondents debate sponsors Dow Jones & Co., Fox News Channel, MSNBC, ABC, CNN and the Congressional Black Caucus Political Education Leadership Institute.

“It is the responsibility of the FEC to ensure that [the Democratic Party] is not permitted to circumvent statutes and regulations that were enacted to ensure fairness to all candidates and parties,” the complaint states.

Black museum

The Senate has approved legislation that would allot $17 million toward construction of an African-American History Museum on the National Mall.

Another $15 million would be earmarked for educational programs, teaching visitors about slavery, Reconstruction and the civil rights movement. An advisory committee now will work alongside the Smithsonian Institute and has one year to find a suitable building site.

John McCaslin, a nationally syndicated columnist, can be reached at 202/636-3284 or [email protected]


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