- The Washington Times - Friday, June 11, 2004

Hard to find

“It’s less than five months until Election Day, yet I still can’t find even a dozen open House seats that could well change party control,” political analyst Stuart Rothenberg writes in Roll Call.

“I’m not looking only for seats that are likely to change control, or even for those that are true toss-ups. No, I’m merely looking for districts with a one-in-three chance of switching control. And I still can’t find a dozen districts that merit inclusion on the list,” Mr. Rothenberg says.

“The small number of open seats that could flip in November continues to be a major problem for the Democrats, who insist that their party has some chance at a majority in the House this fall.

“Democrats may be able to knock off a handful of GOP incumbents, but they’ll need to add a number of Republican open seats to their column to have any chance of talking about a Democratic-majority House.”

Kerry’s lead

Democratic candidate Sen. John Kerry leads President Bush 51 percent to 44 percent among American voters in a two-way race for president, according to a Los Angeles Times poll published yesterday.

Mr. Kerry’s margin of seven percentage points shrinks only slightly to six percentage points, 48-42, in a three-way race, with independent candidate Ralph Nader getting four percentage points, poll results show.

More than a third of those surveyed said they don’t know enough about Mr. Kerry to decide whether he will make a better president than Mr. Bush. Asked who is more likely to flip-flop on issues, they chose Mr. Kerry 2-to-1.

But by 56 percent to 16 percent, voters felt that Mr. Bush was “too ideological and stubborn.” They gave Mr. Kerry better marks for ideas for strengthening the economy, building respect for the United States worldwide, and handling the problems of health care cost and access, the Associated Press reports.

The telephone poll of 1,230 registered voters nationwide was conducted Saturday to Tuesday. The margin of error was plus or minus three percentage points.

Reagan and Clinton

“How ironic that it was Reagan’s agenda which dominated the Clinton administration: The 42nd president’s signal achievements of welfare reform and a balanced budget owe their intellectual and political foundations to the vision of the 40th,” Dick Morris writes in the New York Post.

“Reagan, aloof from the daily management of the White House, left so pervasive a mark upon the government that he literally changed its direction. It was Reagan who reversed 10 years of defeatism and 80 years of government growth,” said Mr. Morris, who served as chief political adviser to President Clinton when he sought re-election.

“But it was Clinton, the liberal, who accepted the construct imposed on his presidency by Reagan — a balanced budget, welfare reform and government reinvention and reduction. It was Clinton who boasted that he had pruned the federal payroll to its ‘lowest level since Eisenhower’ — but it was Reagan’s vision that made him do it.”

Arizona signatures

Ralph Nader’s campaign said it has collected more than enough signatures to get on the presidential ballot in Arizona, the first state ballot for the independent candidate.

Nader spokesman Kevin Zeese said late Wednesday that the campaign collected about 22,000 signatures, more than the 14,694 needed to compete against President Bush and Democratic Sen. John Kerry in Arizona.

Democrats, who blame Mr. Nader for denying Democrat Al Gore the presidency in 2000, promised to scrutinize the signatures to determine their validity and to examine the petition drive, the Associated Press reports.

“We are going to be putting these signatures under a microscope,” said Jim Pederson, the state’s Democratic Party chairman. If the state validates the signatures, Arizona would be Mr. Nader’s first ballot.

Labor pains

A federal judge said yesterday that he would deploy U.S. marshals to ensure that access to the site of the Democratic National Convention isn’t blocked by picketing police officers while construction workers prepare it for the political gathering.

U.S. District Judge Joseph Tauro said the marshals would report violations of an order he issued last week that allowed police to hand out leaflets protesting contract talks with the city but not to block construction workers from Boston’s FleetCenter, the sports arena where the convention will be held July 26 to 29. It was not announced when marshals would be deployed, the Associated Press reports.

For two consecutive days, many of the construction workers turned away when confronted by police officers carrying banners and yelling. The officers have been working without a contract for about two years.

Only about a dozen union laborers and carpenters reported to work Wednesday, the second day of scheduled construction to convert the FleetCenter to a convention hall. The $14 million project includes connecting phone lines and removing seats to accommodate a large stage for the featured speakers.

Hollywood hero

San Francisco’s mayor, who won notoriety after sanctioning about 4,000 same-sex “marriages” in February, will be honored at a fund-raiser organized by Hollywood heavyweights.

The Monday event for Gavin Newsom at the home of director Rob Reiner will be co-hosted by Barbra Streisand and husband James Brolin, television producer Norman Lear, billionaire entertainment mogul Haim Saban and others.

Proceeds from the $750-a-person reception will help pay $400,000 in debt from Mr. Newsom’s mayoral campaign last year, the Associated Press reports.

Brady on Reagan

Ronald Reagan’s first White House press secretary, wounded during an assassination attempt on the then president 23 years ago, recalled how the Reagans visited him in hospital during his recovery and brought him jelly beans.

“Because he knows, at the Cabinet meeting, I’d bring the crystal jar that Mayor [Tom] Bradley from Los Angeles gave me, put my paw in them, and then throw them in my mouth,” former White House spokesman James S. Brady told CNN’s “Inside Politics” yesterday.

Both men were shot by John Hinckley Jr. outside a Washington hotel on March 30, 1981. Mr. Brady was shot in the head, and his injuries put him in a wheelchair, slurred his speech and ended his White House career.

Mr. Brady also recalled Mr. Reagan as a man filled with optimism.

“I can remember when he said he was going to put the Soviet Union out of business,” he said. “And they said, ‘Don’t do that. You can’t do it.’ He said, ‘Yes, I can, because I believe I can.’ And he did it.”

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

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