- The Washington Times - Thursday, March 4, 2004

Castro convertible

A poll released by the Miami Herald yesterday found that President Bush leads Democratic presidential nominee John Kerry among Hispanic voters in South Florida by a margin of 64 percent to 25 percent.

Among Cuban Americans, more than 75 percent backed Mr. Bush, compared with 15 percent for Mr. Kerry.

But more than a third of the voters disapproved of the job Mr. Bush has done “promoting democracy and regime change” in Fidel Castro’s Cuba.

It may not matter in the voting booth, though.

“There may be some disapproval among Cubans about the way the president is handling the issue, but there is absolutely no indication that it would prevent them from voting for him,” said Florida-based Republican pollster Neil Newhouse.

Democratic strategists believe Cuban Americans are critical in the presidential race. President Clinton won 40 percent of their vote in 1996. Mr. Bush won 80 percent in 2000, but won Florida by just 537 votes.

The survey of 400 Hispanic voters in Miami-Dade and Broward counties was conducted Feb. 27-29.

Marital minority

Black lawmakers in Georgia are lining up against an amendment banning same-sex “marriage,” though they may be personally opposed to homosexual “marriage,” United Press International reports.

Black members of the House — which include church deacons and ministers — support the state’s laws banning same-sex marriage. However, Georgia’s Legislative Black Caucus think the state constitutional amendment to ban homosexual “marriage” denigrates a minority.

“I’m a pastor, and I don’t support gay marriage, but I resent people playing political football with our religious beliefs,” said state Rep. Ron Sailor Jr., a Democrat whose suburban Atlanta district includes some of the state’s most conservative black churches.

Rall rant

The New York Times has dropped political cartoonist Ted Rall, who traces the trouble back to his March 2002 cartoon of “terror widows,” which depicted September 11 family survivors capitalizing on the attacks.

The image “became the target of a coordinated e-mail attack by right-wing ‘warbloggers.’ These pro-Bush bloggers, coasting on a wave of post-September 11 patriotism, sent out e-mails to their followers … asking each other to deluge the Times and other papers with complaints that purported to come from their readers,” Mr. Rall wrote on his Web site (www.rall.com) yesterday.

“It seems that the warbloggers’ consistent campaign of e-mail harassment has finally taken its toll over at Times Digital,” Mr. Rall continued. “Because they’re annoyed by receiving so many e-mail complaints about my work — all of them motivated by partisan politics — the Times has decided to drop my cartoons entirely.”

Mr. Rall called the move “a dangerous precedent. … They’ve sent the message that political pressure works.”

Apres Tuesday

In the aftermath of Super Tuesday, the Senate balance teeters between 51 Republicans, 48 Democrats and one independent. Republicans hold a 228-205 advantage in the House. There is one Democrat-leaning independent and currently one vacancy in the 435-member House.

Democrats face atough fight to retain control of Senate seats in Florida, Georgia, South Carolina and North Carolina, according to an Associated Press rundown.

California Republicans nominated former Secretary of State Bill Jones, who had the endorsement of Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger. Encouraged by the October recall of Democratic Gov. Gray Davis, the Republican Party has also targeted two-term Democrat Sen. Barbara Boxer, who nonetheless won renomination.

In House primary races, former Rep. Robert K. Dornan failed in his bid to return to Congress, losing to fellow Republican Rep. Dana Rohrabacher in California’s 46th Congressional District.

Soft-money perils

The Federal Election Commission has penalized the Republican National Committee , the National Republican Senatorial Committee and the Federal National Mortgage Association for violations of the Federal Election Campaign Act.

The RNC will pay $98,000, the NRSC $24,000 and Fannie Mae $10,000, the FEC announced yesterday.

The FEC found that more than $200,000 in Fannie Mae donations from 1998 through 2000 went into nonfederal accounts of party committees not designated “building funds.” The act prohibits contributions from congressionally chartered corporations in connection with any election, though the law at the time provided an exception for contributions to building-fund accounts.

The Republican National Committee also improperly deposited $250,000 received from Fannie Mae, and the National Republican Senatorial Committee improperly deposited $130,250 from the corporation.

The investigation stemmed from a complaint filed with the FEC by the National Taxpayers Union.

Conservative guess

The New York Times has offered its new “conservative” column for a month.

But the Weekly Standard’s Terry Eastland wonders “why the Times thinks it can cover all of those conservative forces with only one reporter” and why so many of the stories emphasize divisiveness among conservatives.

“Moreover, those and other ‘conservative’ stories have proved more than a little strained. The words ‘conservative’ and ‘conservatives’ are used to excess — 24 times in one story — as though to assure readers that the Times is on the conservative beat,” he writes.

“And people otherwise not known to be important conservatives turn out to be major, on-the-record sources, no doubt delighted that the Times has reached them. Was the point of actually announcing a ‘conservative beat’ to interest conservatives in becoming sources?”

Hughes returns

She’s back

President Bush’s longtime adviser, Karen Hughes, yesterday entered the political fray and took several pointed shots at Sen. John Kerry as a flip-flopper compared with President Bush’s single-minded moral clarity, the Associated Press reported.

“You’ve all heard [President Bush]. Good versus evil. With us or against us,” Mrs. Hughes said. “It’s one of the things that I think makes Europe a little uncomfortable with him. It makes the Democrats a little uncomfortable, too.

“The Democrats’ candidate for president has been having a little message-clarity problem,” Mrs. Hughes told her Dallas audience of about 600 people.

Mrs. Hughes said the Massachusetts senator “has railed against the Patriot Act, against the No Child Left Behind education reform, against free trade and [the North American Free Trade Agreement]. Yet he voted for all three of them.”

Mrs. Hughes earned a big round of applause and laughter by thanking Democratic primary voters for choosing Mr. Kerry.

“It took Howard Dean to make John Kerry look electable,” she said.

Contact Jennifer Harper at jharper@washingtontimes.com or 202/636-3085.

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