- The Washington Times - Sunday, January 25, 2004

Edwards vs. Dixie

Sen. John Edwards, in an interview last week, made it clear that he has no interest in winning the votes of guys with Confederate flags in their pickup trucks.

Mr. Edwards, a North Carolina Democrat who is seeking his party’s presidential nomination, told WorldNetDaily (www.WorldNetDaily.com) that the Confederate flag should be banned from any public place. It was less clear whether Mr. Edwards, as president, would fight to have all Confederate-related symbols removed from public places, such as the Confederate memorial at Arlington National Cemetery.

When asked whether all Confederate war memorials, such as the one outside the Statehouse in Columbia, S.C., are divisive and should be removed, Mr. Edwards at first sounded confused.

“I don’t know what that question means,” Mr. Edwards said.

The reporter then mentioned “statues, grave sites and so forth. Do you believe they are all divisive like that war memorial in Columbia?”

“Are you talking about private property?” Mr. Edwards asked. “On private property, people can put whatever they want on private property. … My answer is that the Confederate flag, which is a symbol of oppression to a lot of Americans, is a divisive symbol and should not be flown in a place like it’s being flown in South Carolina, in front of the state Capitol. It shouldn’t be flown on public grounds like that. That’s my position and I stand by it.”

Sharpton’s adviser

Republican political operative Roger Stone has been acting as an unpaid consultant to Democratic presidential candidate the Rev. Al Sharpton, the New York Times reports.

Mr. Stone, who in the past worked for Richard Nixon, Ronald Reagan and George W. Bush, “had a hand in some of Mr. Sharpton’s most effective attacks on Howard Dean,” reporter Michael Slackman said, citing aides to Mr. Sharpton.

Mr. Stone told the reporter: “Frankly, there has not been a candidate with this much charisma since Ronald Reagan. He is a natural talent. Who else could do the funky chicken on television and get away with it? I don’t share his politics. Let’s be very clear, if you check the [Federal Election Commission] records, you will see I am supporting George W. Bush. I am a Reagan Republican.”

Mr. Sharpton said he talks to Mr. Stone from time to time, but does not consider him an adviser. However, Sharpton aides told the reporter that Mr. Stone has advised the candidate before national debates, and had a hand in Mr. Sharpton forcing Mr. Dean to admit that no blacks or Hispanics had served in his Cabinet during the 11 years Mr. Dean was governor of Vermont.

Vetting Kerry

“Even before Howard Dean’s campaign began to fall apart, President Bush’s underlings were paying attention to Dean’s rivals for the Democratic presidential nomination,” Fred Barnes writes in the Weekly Standard.

“If Bush strategists ranked the Democratic candidates as threats to Bush, the list would look like this: (1) Sen. Joe Lieberman, (2) [Rep. Richard A.] Gephardt, (3) [Sen. John] Edwards, (4) [Sen. John] Kerry, (5) [Howard] Dean, (6) [Wesley] Clark. And since they regard the Lieberman campaign as dead, too [along with the Gephardt campaign], Bush advisers count the two toughest opponents for Bush as eliminated,” Mr. Barnes said.

“For more than a year, Republicans have been vetting Kerry. Is he vulnerable? Oh, yes, because of his 19-year record in Congress. Bush aides can rattle off Senate votes on national security issues they would use to knock Kerry: votes against the B1 bomber, against the Abrams tank, against the Patriot missile, against the $87 billion to fund the military in postwar Iraq, against full funding for the CIA as the terrorist threat grew. And the Bush camp disputes Kerry’s populist credentials since Kerry and his wife are worth roughly $500 million.”

S. Dakota hopeful

A South Dakota state senator on Saturday won the Republican nomination to run in a special election to fill the congressional seat Rep. Bill Janklow left after being convicted of killing a motorcyclist in a car crash.

State Sen. Larry Diedrich received a majority of votes on the fourth ballot cast by members of the Republican State Central Committee meeting in Sioux Falls, the Associated Press reports.

Voters in the June 1 special election will choose someone to fill the remaining six months of Janklow’s term.

Janklow resigned from South Dakota’s lone U.S. House seat after he was convicted of second-degree manslaughter for the fatal collision in August. He was sentenced on Thursday to 100 days in jail.

Mr. Diedrich, a 45-year-old Elkton farmer, outlasted seven other candidates to run in South Dakota’s first special U.S. House election since 1891.

“The campaign we’ll run will be one you’ll be so proud of,” Mr. Diedrich told a cheering crowd. “We’re going to win this big. It won’t even be close.”

However, most Republicans expect a tough race against Stephanie Herseth, the only announced Democratic candidate. Miss Herseth, 33, lost to Janklow, a former four-term governor, by 7 percentage points in the 2002 congressional race.

Mr. Diedrich still runs the soybean, corn and hog farm on which he grew up. He has been a legislator for eight years and served as president of the state and national soybean associations.

>Duke’s future

Former Ku Klux Klan leader David Duke, in federal prison after pleading guilty to mail and tax fraud, is considering a run for Congress when he is released this year, his secretary says.

Roy Armstrong said Duke is considering entering the race for the seat of Republican Rep. David Vitter. In 1999, Duke finished third in the primary for that seat.

Mr. Armstrong said Duke could be released to a halfway house in mid-April, a year after he began his prison term.

“He was skeptical that he would be able to raise the money to run an effective campaign in time, but he said he would consider his options,” Mr. Armstrong said Friday in an interview with the Associated Press.

Duke, whose telephone privileges are limited, could not be reached for comment.

The seat will probably be open because Mr. Vitter has said he is running for the U.S. Senate.

>’The wrong way’

Massachusetts Sen. John Kerry says President Bush “rushed to war without a plan to win the peace.”

In an interview on CBS’ “60 Minutes,” the Democratic presidential candidate defended his vote to authorize the use of force against Iraq, but criticized Mr. Bush’s handling of the war.

“I believe we should have stood up to Saddam Hussein. I thought it was important for our nation’s security,” Mr. Kerry said, according to the Associated Press. “There was a right way to do it, and there was a wrong way to do it. The president chose the wrong way.”

He added: “If anyone believes that I would have used that authority the way George Bush did, they should not vote for me, period.”

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

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