- The Washington Times - Thursday, October 9, 2003

Dems’ flip-flop

“The Democratic spin out of California is that somehow Arnold’s win is good news for Dems and bad news for [President] Bush because it can be read as a ‘kick-out-the-bums’ message,” the New York Post’s Deborah Orin writes.

“Yeah, right. Every Democrat, starting with Bill Clinton, flew out to California in a futile bid to beat Schwarzenegger because they really wanted him to win by a landslide,” Miss Orin said.

“Democratic presidential front-runner Howard Dean claimed Arnold’s victory was really a rebellion against ‘George Bush’s massive tax cuts.’ Oh, really? That sure was a quick flip-flop.

“On election eve, Dean e-mailed his California fans to oppose Arnold, telling them that a Terminator win ‘would make it significantly more difficult for the Democrats to win California in the 2004 presidential election.’ ”

Foggy Bottom fever

The State Department has lodged a vehement complaint with television evangelist Pat Robertson, accusing him of suggesting that the department should be blown up, but it was not clear yesterday whether the gang at Foggy Bottom had picked the right target.

Agence France-Presse reports that State Department spokesman Richard Boucher was livid yesterday about what the wire service said were comments by Mr. Robertson “suggesting that its Foggy Bottom headquarters should be destroyed with nuclear weapons.”

However, a transcript indicated that the host of the nationally broadcast “700 Club” was quoting or perhaps loosely paraphrasing guest Joel Mowbray, author of “Dangerous Diplomacy: How the State Department Threatens American Security.”

Attempts by this column to reach a spokeswoman for the “700 Club” were unsuccessful yesterday.

“I read your book,” Mr. Robertson said to Mr. Mowbray, according to a transcript of the interview posted on his Christian Broadcasting Network’s Web site, www.cbn.com.

“When you get through, you say, ‘If I could just get a nuclear device inside Foggy Bottom, I think that’s the answer,’ ” he said.

“I mean, you get through this, and you say, ‘We’ve got to blow that thing up.’ I mean, is it as bad as you say?” Mr. Robertson asked.

Mr. Mowbray responded: “It is.”

Mr. Boucher called the remarks, which he attributed to Mr. Robertson, “despicable” and a senior department official said a protest had been made “at the highest level.”

It was not clear what “the highest level” might mean in reference to a preacher.

New Hampshire poll

Former Vermont Gov. Howard Dean maintains a double-digit lead over rival Sen. John Kerry of Massachusetts in a New Hampshire poll of likely voters in the state’s Democratic presidential primary.

The poll by American Research Group of Manchester, N.H., showed Mr. Dean leading Mr. Kerry, 29 percent to 19 percent. The remaining candidates, including newcomer Wesley Clark, were in the single digits, and 29 percent remained undecided.

Mr. Dean also held a 10-point lead over Mr. Kerry in the group’s September poll.

Rep. Richard A. Gephardt of Missouri and Sen. Joe Lieberman of Connecticut each received 6 percent support, Mr. Clark 5 percent and Sen. John Edwards of North Carolina 3 percent. Carol Moseley Braun and Rep. Dennis J. Kucinich of Ohio were at 1 percent and the Rev. Al Sharpton zero percent.

The poll of 600 Democrats and independents who say they are likely to vote in the Democratic primary was conducted Oct. 3-8 and had a margin of error of plus or minus 3 percentage points.

Surprise guest

Arnold Schwarzenegger paid a surprise visit to “The Tonight Show with Jay Leno,” where he poked fun at the late-night host for appearing bored during his victory speech.

In a walk-on during Mr. Leno’s monologue Wednesday, California’s governor-elect showed a clip of the host checking his watch after introducing Mr. Schwarzenegger at a celebration the previous night.

“You looked at your watch. I cannot believe it,” Mr. Schwarzenegger joked, as Mr. Leno fumbled with an excuse.

“Just remember, never call me, and I’m going to check right away your tax returns when I get up to Sacramento,” said the actor, who announced he was running for governor on Mr. Leno’s show in August.

Birth of amendment

Arnold Schwarzenegger could have a shot at running for president someday, under a congressional proposal to amend the Constitution, allowing foreign-born citizens to seek the highest office.

“The history of the United States is replete with scores of great and patriotic Americans whose dedication to this country is beyond reproach, but who happen to have been born outside of her borders,” said Sen. Orrin G. Hatch, Utah Republican and sponsor of the proposal.

The Constitution currently bans a person who is not a native-born citizen of the United States from becoming president, which is bad news for California’s newly elected governor, who was born in Graz, Austria, and became a naturalized U.S. citizen in 1983.

Mr. Hatch’s proposal, introduced in July, would change that, allowing a person to become president if he has been a United States citizen for 20 years. A similar House measure would set the standard at 35 years.

“Our citizens should have every opportunity to choose their leaders free of unreasonable limitations,” said Mr. Hatch, who noted that foreign-born citizens can already hold other high U.S. government positions. He pointed to former Secretaries of State Henry Kissinger and Madeleine K. Albright, Secretary of Labor Elaine L. Chao, Secretary of Housing and Urban Development Mel Martinez and Michigan Gov. Jennifer Granholm.

Changing the constitution is extremely difficult, however. Two-thirds of both chambers must pass the proposal, and three-fourths of the states must approve it as well.

Try, try again

Voters in California widely rejected a measure that proposed to forbid state and local governments from collecting racial data, but its backers vowed to persist.

Proposition 54, called the Racial Privacy Initiative, was defeated by a 2-to-1 margin Tuesday after a frenzied anti-54 campaign painted it as a racist endeavor that would strip away public funding for many social services.

The proposal was initiated by University of California Regent Ward Connerly, who was vastly outspent by his foes. A Connerly spokesman has promised the language will be amended and the measure will again be on the ballot in two or three years.

“We are trying it again. We will come back,” said Justin Jones, a spokesman for Mr. Connerly’s effort. “We are going to make some changes to the proposition.” He looked at the results — 64 percent to 36 percent — and found a bright spot.

“When I look at how we were outspent and still managed to hold a decent-sized chunk of the electorate, that’s a reason to feel good about things,” he said.

Greg Pierce can be reached at 202/636-3285 or [email protected].

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