- The Washington Times - Sunday, January 4, 2004

Clark’s pledge

Democratic presidential candidate Wesley Clark said yesterday that under no circumstances would he accept the vice-presidential nomination.

“I’m running to be the president of the United States, not the vice president, and I will not accept that nomination,” the retired Army general said on NBC’s “Meet the Press.”

Hitler ad draws fire

A television ad that morphs an image of Adolf Hitler into President Bush has sparked criticism of MoveOn.org, the liberal activist group MoveOn.org that posted the ad on its Web site.

The 30-second spot was one of more than 1,500 entries for a contest MoveOn.org sponsored to find one that “tells the truth about George Bush’s policies.”

The ad shows images of Hitler with text saying, “God told me to strike at al-Qaeda” before turning into images of Mr. Bush with the words “And then He instructed me to strike at Saddam.” The ad ends with the words “Sound familiar?” on a black-and-white screen, the Associated Press reports.

“To use Hitler in a way like this is grotesque and outrageous. He was such a heinous individual that it’s unseemly to bring him into the American political debate,” said James Tisch, chairman of the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations.

Eli Pariser, campaign director for MoveOn.org, said the ad appeared on the Web site with hundreds of others submitted by the public and was voted on during a two-week period. They were removed Dec. 31, when the voting period ended.

Training for Florida

President Bush’s re-election campaign has trained more than 2,000 volunteers to work in Florida to avoid a photo finish like the one in 2000.

The campaign, perhaps unprecedented in Florida, is eventually expected to include about 7,000 paid and volunteer organizers to get out the Republican vote in the state this fall, the St. Petersburg Times reported yesterday.

The Bush campaign is already setting up phone banks to reach thousands of swing voters crucial to winning Florida’s 27 electoral votes in November, and expects to register more than 75,000 new Republican voters in Florida before Election Day.

“You’re going to see the greatest grass-roots undertaking by the Republican Party in modern political history,” said Ralph Reed, chief of the Bush-Cheney campaign in the Southeast.

Republicans say they learned in 2000 that Republican domination of state politics and having the president’s brother as governor aren’t enough. Nor is the fund-raising advantage the party enjoys if Republicans and swing voters don’t vote for the Republican candidate, the Associated Press reports.

“The election of 2000 was kind of an eye-opener for us,” said Al Austin, a Tampa developer and the Republican state finance chairman. “We were a little complacent, and now we’re re-emphasizing grass-roots organizing. You’re going to see a major, major difference in the voter turnout we’re going to have.”

Raising expectations

“In November, Wesley Clark aide Matt Bennett touted an expected fourth-quarter Clark fund-raising total of $12 million,” Mickey Kaus writes in his Kausfiles blog at Slate.msn.com.

“ABC News reported: ‘As for skeptics, Bennett says, “They’re welcome to be skeptical. But the fact is, we wouldn’t put this out there if it wasn’t true.”’

“In December, Clark communications strategist Chris Lehane actually seemed to up the ante a bit in the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette: ‘Lehane said the campaign will raise $12 million to $13 million in the fund-raising quarter ending Dec. 31.’

“In the event, Clark’s fourth-quarter fund-raising total was $10 million — an impressive showing which, thanks to the characteristic counterproductive overspinning of Lehane & Co., now seems like a disappointment. You can’t pay enough for that kind of sophisticated communications strategizing! Ask Al Gore.”

Pataki’s future

With New York state’s economy still sputtering and its budget $5 billion in the red, Republican Gov. George E. Pataki might have started 2004 on the shaky political ground that threatens to swallow some of his colleagues.

But despite facing many of the same problems that put California Gov. Gray Davis on the street, Mr. Pataki’s hold on his governor’s office is perhaps as firm as any chief state executive in the country, the Associated Press reports. Polls show a majority of New Yorkers are happy with the job he’s doing in the nation’s third-most-populous state.

So as he prepares to deliver his 10th State of the State address on Wednesday and embarks on the second year of his third four-year term, is Mr. Pataki using this aura of a “Teflon governor” to get to Washington? asks AP reporter Joel Stashenko.

Political insiders say yes — if not in 2004, then in 2008.

“It’s going to be a cavalry charge [in 2008], and I think he wants to be on horseback in that,” Virginia-based Republican political consultant Nelson Warfield said in November.

“Four years from now, we’re going to be talking about, in all likelihood, a wide-open Republican primary for the presidential contest, and I’m confident that both Governor Pataki and his advisers are keeping all their options open on that,” said Mr. Warfield, who served as Bob Dole’s presidential campaign press secretary in 1996.

Case dismissed

A federal judge has removed Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton, New York Democrat, from a lawsuit that accused her of conspiring with political advisers to discredit Gennifer Flowers after Miss Flowers said she had an affair with Bill Clinton.

U.S. District Judge Philip Pro ruled in late November that the conspiracy claim against the former first lady was barred by Nevada’s four-year statute of limitations, the Las Vegas Review-Journal reported Saturday.

According to the Web site for Judicial Watch, the public-interest group that represents Miss Flowers, the organization plans to appeal.

“In the meantime, Ms. Flowers looks forward to getting her day in court against Hillary’s co-conspirators in the smear campaign against her — George Stephanopoulos and James Carville,” Judicial Watch President Tom Fitton said in a statement.

Guilty plea

A convicted bank robber who told a prison psychologist he wanted to “spice up” his life by shooting a famous person has admitted threatening to kill Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton, New York Democrat, officials said.

Edward Falvey, 51, pleaded guilty to a charge of threatening to kill an immediate family member of a former president, a federal crime that carries a penalty of up to five years in prison and a $250,000 fine. No sentencing date has been set, said Greg Reinert, a spokesman with the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Camden, N.J.

The story was first reported in the Philadelphia Inquirer.

In 1977, Falvey was arrested and charged with threatening to kill then-President Carter. Falvey was convicted and received probation.

According to the Secret Service, Falvey wrote to a prison psychologist last April a letter in which he said he wanted to “shoot a very famous person. … ”

“My life is dull and boring. I need to spice it up.”

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

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