- The Washington Times - Tuesday, October 14, 2003

Philadelphia story

A week after an FBI bug was found in the office of Philadelphia Mayor John Street, Republican challenger Sam Katz accused Mr. Street of helping to create an atmosphere of corruption and cronyism in city government.

Mr. Katz yesterday said Mr. Street is “innocent until proven otherwise” regarding anything connected to the FBI probe, but suggested he’s helped lead the city to a culture of corruption, the Associated Press reports.

“I would like to suggest that the conditions we find ourselves in today are exactly the product of John Street’s making,” Mr. Katz said in a debate aired on KYW-AM yesterday morning.

The tight rematch between Mr. Street and Mr. Katz has been thrown into turmoil since police found hidden listening devices inside Mr. Street’s City Hall office Oct. 7, exactly four weeks before Election Day on Nov. 4. The FBI said the bugs were not connected to the campaign but declined to release further details.

Mr. Street again maintained in yesterday’s debate that he is not a target of the investigation and has done nothing wrong.

Declaration of war?

“The anchors and White House reporters for the national networks weren’t too pleased by President Bush trying to go around them by conducting interviews on Monday with reporters from local affiliate station groups,” the Media Research Center’s Brent Baker reports at www.mediaresearch.org.

“CBS’ John Roberts intoned: ‘It was the public relations equivalent of a declaration of war aimed at the national media, President Bush claiming the American people aren’t getting the truth about Iraq.’

“Roberts contrasted Bush’s claims with reality: ‘In interviews with regional television outlets today, which the White House feels will go easier on the president, Mr. Bush all but ignored the daily attacks on U.S. troops and personnel, instead telling Hearst-Argyle television the news about Iraq is good.’

“Over on ABC’s ‘World News Tonight,’ Peter Jennings similarly contrasted the day’s violence with Bush’s claims: ‘On a day when the Army confirmed that three more American soldiers had been killed, Mr. Bush said that the news media, and he meant the national news media, is too heavily focused on the violence.’ Terry Moran called it a ‘a rare outburst for a president who likes to cultivate friendly relations with some White House reporters.’”

Unscientific survey

The South Carolina Republican Party released the results of a straw poll conducted during this month’s two-week state fair, in which it asked fair-goers which Democratic candidate they thought “would lose to President Bush the worst.”

Party Chairman Katon Dawson said that 722 fair-goers took part in the “highly unscientific survey.”

Ohio Rep. Dennis J. Kucinich won with more than 36 percent of the vote and former Vermont Gov. Howard Dean came in second with 15 percent. Sen. John Edwards, from neighboring North Carolina, placed third — meaning poll participants expect that he would fare worse against Mr. Bush than would the Rev. Al Sharpton.

“I think many folks thought Howard Dean was the favorite going in; his campaign looks the most like George McGovern’s,” Mr. Dawson said. “But clearly, in the end, Dennis Kucinich and his plan to eliminate our military budget simply ran away with it.”

Sen. Bob Graham of Florida, who quit the race last week, fared the best.

Florida investigation

Florida officials will investigate whether Broward County’s elections department is up to handling upcoming elections, including the March presidential primary.

Secretary of State Glenda Hood ordered an assessment of supervisor Miriam Oliphant’s office yesterday in the wake of her firing four key subordinates, including the deputy supervisor, the Associated Press reports. Miss Oliphant has also been accused of incompetence.

Special elections are scheduled in four Broward communities on Nov. 4, and the presidential primary is set for March 9.

Trading insults

Democrats Howard Dean and John Kerry traded insults Monday over the war in Iraq, with Mr. Kerry faulting his presidential rival for a lack of policy and Mr. Dean complaining that “we wouldn’t be there if it weren’t for Democrats like Senator Kerry.”

The latest scrap between the two candidates started Saturday, the first anniversary of House passage of the congressional resolution authorizing the use of military force in Iraq. To bolster its argument that Mr. Kerry had switched sides since voting for the measure, the Dean campaign issued a list of quotes from the Massachusetts senator that it said highlighted his inconsistencies.

Mr. Kerry responded Monday, telling Vermont Public Radio that Mr. Dean has never laid out a clear plan for how Iraq should be handled.

“Governor Dean has no policy on Iraq evidently, except ‘no.’ ‘No’ is not a policy,” he said. “I voted to hold Iraq accountable and hold Saddam Hussein accountable. That was the right vote for the defense of the United States of America.”

In a conference call with reporters Monday, Mr. Dean at first said he wouldn’t respond to Mr. Kerry’s criticism, but then did just that.

“I find that quite amusing that Senator Kerry, who’s been on every side of this issue, would even have the nerve to say that, but I suppose if you have the nerve to cover your own vote and then try to pretend you didn’t vote that way, you’d have the nerve to do anything,” the former Vermont governor said. “The fact is, we wouldn’t be there if it weren’t for Democrats like Senator Kerry.”

Congressman apologizes

Georgia Rep. Max Burns apologized to Jewish leaders three weeks after a supporter made anti-Semitic remarks at a fund-raiser for the Georgia Republican.

Mr. Burns’ phone call to a Jewish community group Monday was in response to a Sept. 20 comment by businessman Jackie Sommers.

Mr. Sommers referred to Democrat Tony Center, who is Jewish, as “that Jew boy down in Savannah” at a rally for Mr. Burns in the freshman congressman’s hometown of Sylvania.

Mr. Center was a candidate in the 12th Congressional District’s Democratic primary last year and is considered a possible challenger to Mr. Burns next year.

Mr. Burns’ apology came several days after Mr. Sommers’ comment was printed in the Savannah Morning News, the Associated Press reports.

Istook’s decision

Rep. Ernest Istook, Oklahoma Republican, says he will not be a candidate for the U.S. Senate seat held by retiring Republican Don Nickles.

Mr. Istook, who chairs the House Appropriations subcommittee on transportation, treasury and independent agencies, said he would instead seek re-election to the House seat he has held since 1992, United Press International reports.

Meanwhile, Oklahoma City Mayor Kirk Humphreys, who has not made a formal announcement of his intentions, was endorsed for the seat by fellow Republican James M. Inhofe, the state’s junior senator, UPI said.

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

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