- The Washington Times - Thursday, August 5, 2004

Yes-or-no question

“Republicans are out to make Democratic nominee John Kerry answer a simple question: Knowing what you know now, would you have gone to war in Iraq — yes or no?” the New York Post’s Deborah Orin writes.

“So far, it’s not a question Kerry wants to answer yes or no in commander-in-chief fashion, and it’s easy to see why,” Miss Orin said.

“Say no and he jeopardizes support from anyone who believes America is safer with Saddam Hussein gone.

“If Kerry says it wasn’t worth toppling Saddam, he’s hostage to fortune and any news supporting the war is news that plays against him and helps President Bush claim Kerry isn’t tough enough to keep America safe.

“Of course it’d be even riskier for Kerry to say yes, in hindsight, the war was worth it and he’s glad he voted for it. If he did that, he’d alienate the anti-war base.

“No wonder then that, so far, Kerry is straddling, arguing his vote for the war was right but it wasn’t really for the war. No wonder three different Kerry spokesmen [Wednesday] didn’t respond to requests for a yes-or-no answer.”

A nail-biter

Voters will have to wait until Monday to learn who won the Republican primary in Kansas’ 3rd congressional district, the Kansas City Star reports.

After months of campaigning in which hundreds of thousands of dollars were spent to sway voters, only 87 votes separate leader Kris Kobach from his nearest rival, Adam Taff, the newspaper said. Out of contention is state Rep. Patricia Lightner, who ran a distant third.

Still waiting to be tallied are about 3,500 ballots that were cast in Johnson, Wyandotte and Douglas counties on Tuesday. The final total of those ballots won’t be known until Monday.

Known as provisionals, the ballots were set aside by poll workers for a number of reasons, including questions about where a voter lives or whether the voter could show identification at the polls.

Election workers began sorting through the ballots on Wednesday, trying to determine which should be counted and which should be tossed. A recount is still possible.

Even with the election hanging in the balance, Republicans gathered for a unity rally at the Overland Park Marriott on Wednesday evening. The uncertainty seemed to matter little to those focused on defeating U.S. Rep. Dennis Moore, the Democratic incumbent.

Noonan’s move

Peggy Noonan, the author and former speechwriter for President Reagan, announced yesterday that she is taking a three-month leave of absence from her column at the Wall Street Journal editorial page Web site (www.OpinionJournal.com) to work for President Bush’s re-election.

“I am going to take three months’ unpaid leave from the Wall Street Journal and attempt to support the Republican Party in the coming and crucial election,” she said yesterday in what will be her final column until after the election, adding parenthetically, “Every four years, everyone says, ‘This is the most important election of my lifetime,’ but this year, I believe it is true.”

She added: “I’m going to give whatever advice and encouragement I have in terms of strategy, approach, message — I hate that word— and issues. No one has asked me to do this, and I do it as a volunteer, not for a salary but simply to give my time to help what I think is the more helpful side.”

Kerry up in Jersey

Sen. John Kerry has reclaimed a healthy lead in Democratic-leaning New Jersey, where he holds a double-digit lead over President Bush, according to a Quinnipiac University poll released yesterday.

The poll, taken after the Democratic National Convention, showed Mr. Kerry with the backing of 49 percent, Mr. Bush with 36 percent and independent Ralph Nader with 6 percent.

In a late June Quinnipiac poll, Mr. Kerry had 46 percent, Mr. Bush 40 percent and Mr. Nader 7 percent.

Democrat Al Gore won the state by 15.8 percentage points in 2000.

“This is the kind of lead you expect a Democratic candidate to have in Democratic New Jersey,” said Clay Richards, assistant director of the Quinnipiac University Polling Institute.

Mr. Kerry’s popularity increased after the convention, with 38 percent now viewing him favorably and 25 percent unfavorably. Mr. Bush was viewed favorably by 34 percent and unfavorably by 43 percent.

The poll, conducted July 30 to Aug. 2, surveyed 996 registered voters and has a margin of error of plus or minus 3.1 percentage points.

Keep out the rabble

Republicans in New Mexico say they will keep asking some people who want to attend Bush-Cheney campaign events to sign an endorsement pledge before receiving tickets.

“If we feel our event will get disrupted again, we will use the same method to make sure it’s a positive event,” Republican Party spokesman Yier Shi told the Associated Press yesterday, defining positive as “without interruption” or “disruption.”

Mr. Shi said the campaign pledge will read something like: “I … hereby endorse George W. Bush for re-election as president of the United States.”

Last week, some Democrats who signed up to hear Vice President Dick Cheney speak Saturday in this town near Albuquerque were refused tickets unless they signed a pledge to endorse President Bush.

The Kerry campaign and an anti-Bush group, America Coming Together, denied it planned any disruptive protests.

The Bush campaign described the measure as a security step designed to avoid a disruption that it contended had been planned by anti-Bush activists.

Bush campaign spokesman Dan Foley said people calling for tickets from an ACT telephone line underwent screening. Others seeking to attend the speech who gave false names were denied tickets, Mr. Foley said.

Another tie

Democrat Sen. John Kerry has pulled even with President Bush in voters’ expectations of who will win the election, according to a poll.

People are evenly divided when asked whether they think Mr. Bush or Mr. Kerry will win the election, according to a Marist Poll.

Mr. Bush and Mr. Kerry have been tied in the horse race for months and are tied in the Marist poll. Months ago, voters were more inclined to think that Mr. Bush would win the election, but that has changed since the Democratic National Convention.

A little more than four in 10, 44 percent, said they think Mr. Bush and Vice President Dick Cheney will win, and 43 percent said Mr. Kerry and running mate Sen. John Edwards will take the White House. In April, more than half of voters, 52 percent, thought Mr. Bush would win and 37 percent said Mr. Kerry.

The poll of 839 registered voters was taken July 30 to Aug. 2 and had a margin of sampling error of plus or minus four percentage points.

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

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