- The Washington Times - Tuesday, March 9, 2004

Owens’ decision

Colorado Gov. Bill Owens has decided against a run for the Senate seat being vacated by fellow Republican Ben Nighthorse Campbell, citing family reasons and a desire to complete his second term.

The popular governor would have been considered a cinch to retain the Republican seat in a race against five unknown Democrats, although better-known Democrats are lining up to enter the race.

Republican Reps. Scott McInnis, Tom Tancredo and Bob Beauprez have expressed an interest in the job.

Mr. Owens said yesterday that his decision was more than “strategy and polls.”

“It comes down to what you know in your heart is the right thing to do,” he said at a news conference. “This time is not right for me, my family or for Colorado to make the kind of personal and professional commitment I know I must make to ensure victory.”

Mr. Owens and his wife, Frances, are separated and have three children.

Democratic Rep. Mark Udall promptly jumped into the race.

“I’m in the race. I’m packing my ropes and I’m getting ready to climb the mountain,” Mr. Udall told the Associated Press last night. The only other prominent Democrat to express interest in running is state Attorney General Ken Salazar.

John and Jane

Sen. John Kerry should not try to distance himself from Jane Fonda, who “was neither wrong nor unconscionable in what she said and did in North Vietnam,” says Tom Hayden, one of Miss Fonda’s ex-husbands.

Miss Fonda became notorious as “Hanoi Jane” for her 1972 propaganda trip to Hanoi. Last month she blamed “a narrow, extremely conservative, right-wing segment” for publicizing a photo of her and Mr. Kerry at a 1970 antiwar rally as part of an “attempt to smear” the presumptive Democratic presidential nominee.

Mr. Hayden, who led the radical Students for a Democratic Society in its most militant protests of the ‘60s, cites a 2001 “Meet the Press” appearance where Mr. Kerry said that he had committed “atrocities” during his five-month combat tour in Vietnam. Mr. Kerry specifically took “responsibility for shooting in free-fire zones, search-and-destroy missions, and burning villages,” Mr. Hayden notes in the latest issue of the Nation.

“The attempted smearing of Kerry through the Fonda ‘connection’ is a Republican attempt to suppress an honest reopening of our unfinished exploration of the Vietnam era,” writes Mr. Hayden, who was a California state legislator for 18 years.

Kerry’s ‘insult’

The head of a civil rights and legal services advocacy group wants Democratic presidential candidate John Kerry to apologize for saying he wouldn’t be upset if he could be known as the second black president.

“John Kerry is not a black man he is a privileged white man who has no idea what it is in this country to be a poor white in this country, let alone a black man,” said Paula Diane Harris, founder of the Andrew Young National Center for Social Change, in Harrisburg, Pa.

Last week, Mr. Kerry told the American Urban Radio Network: “President Clinton was often known as the first black president. I wouldn’t be upset if I could earn the right to be the second.”

Kerry spokesman Chad Clanton said: “This was intended as a light-natured remark about President Clinton’s strong legacy with African-Americans. It is a legacy that John Kerry would like to build upon if elected president. John Kerry has a record of fighting for civil rights and as president he will continue this fight.”

Miss Harris also criticized civil rights leaders who “sit back and ignore these types of comments, a practice that further insults African Americans.”

Line of attack

“It is increasingly clear that President Bush’s line of attack against Kerry will be to describe him as a flip-flopping politician, changing his positions constantly to suit the political needs of the moment,” Dick Morris writes in the New York Post.

“The obvious goal of the Bush attack is to discredit Kerry and make it hard for anyone to believe in him or anything he says but the real point is to soften him up for two more deadly attacks likely to follow,” Mr. Morris said.

In addition to making Mr. Kerry appear “weak, indecisive and vacillating,” the flip-flop attack is designed “to prevent Kerry from responding to the other key line of Bush attack that Kerry is too liberal for mainstream America,” Mr. Morris said.

“By criticizing Kerry for changing his positions constantly, the Bush campaign hopes to stop their opponent from wiggling out of his previous liberal votes and views. Once the public is alert to the chance that Kerry will change his mind, it becomes harder for the Democrat to explain away his votes and to move to the center under Bush’s fire.”

Ballot woes

About 7,000 Orange County, Calif., voters were given the wrong ballots in last week’s election by poll workers unfamiliar with a new electronic voting system, the Los Angeles Times reported yesterday.

As a result, many people voted for candidates outside their legislative districts, the newspaper said.

However, “from what we have seen so far, we do not believe any of these instances where people voted in precincts they shouldn’t have voted in would have affected any of the races,” said Steve Rodermund, Orange County’s registrar of voters.

Five of the county’s six congressional races, four of its five state Senate elections and five of its nine Assembly contests were affected, the newspaper said.

Ballot woes II

A Florida congressman sued state election supervisors Monday, demanding that new touch-screen voting machines be made capable of creating a paper trail for potential recounts.

In his federal lawsuit, Democratic U.S. Rep. Robert Wexler said voters need to be assured every vote is counted, the Associated Press reports.

The Department of State told elections supervisors last month that manual recounts don’t have to include ballots from touch-screen machines because the machines leave no question how people voted.

Unlikely proposal

A proposed amendment to California’s constitution would give 16-year-olds a half-vote and 14-year-olds a quarter-vote in state elections.

State Sen. John Vasconcellos, among four lawmakers to propose the idea on Monday, said the Internet, cellular phones, multichannel television and a diverse society makes today’s teens better informed than their predecessors, the Associated Press reports.

The idea requires two-thirds approval by the Legislature to appear on the November ballot.

A Republican state senator called it “the nuttiest idea I’ve ever heard.”

Timely topic

“John Kerry is a garden-variety liberal who is opposed to the death penalty. Republicans should take advantage of this weak position and ask Sen. Kerry if his opposition to the death penalty would extend to D.C. ‘Sniper’ John Allen Muhammad,” Republican pollster Robert Moran writes at National Review Online (www.nationalreview.com).

Mr. Moran added: “If it’s OK for the press to interview several 9/11 families about their supposed grief from the Bush campaign’s recent television ads, it seems more than appropriate to interview the families of sniper victims about Kerry’s position on the death penalty.”

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

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