- The Washington Times - Thursday, May 20, 2004

Courting Hispanics

“The New Democrat Network (NDN) prominently showcases New Mexico Gov. Bill Richardson in $600,000 worth of Spanish-language advertising slated to begin airing [yesterday] in four swing states,” CNN’s John Mercurio writes in the Morning Grind column at www.cnn.com, citing colleague Mark Rodeffer for the information.

“In a spot that will air in Arizona, Florida, Nevada and New Mexico, Richardson tells viewers in Spanish, ‘My priority has always been to help our community so that all Hispanics can have a better life.’

“Another spot the NDN plans to air starting next week features Richardson saying Dems ‘are more than a political party; we are a movement of the people’ and adding at the end of the commercial that ‘the journey has begun.’

“Richardson is not the only Democrat in the ads,” Mr. Mercurio said. “They also feature Reps. Loretta Sanchez of California and Bob Menendez of New Jersey, Bronx Borough President Adolfo Carrion and Raul Martinez, the mayor of Hialeah, Fla. The five Latinos strike themes about Democrats supporting better education, expanding health care access and job creation.

“The ads will run in Orlando, Tampa, West Palm Beach and Miami in Florida; Reno and Las Vegas in Nevada; Phoenix, Tucson and Yuma in Arizona; and Albuquerque in New Mexico. To reach more Latino voters in New Mexico, the group plans to air ads soon in El Paso, Texas, just across the New Mexico line. The group would spend $150,000 a week to run the ads for a month. Since late 2003, the New Democrat Network has spent roughly $1 million on TV and radio ads promoting Democrats and criticizing Bush.”

Hollings’ charge

Sen. Ernest F. Hollings, South Carolina Democrat, is defending statements he made in a newspaper opinion article that President Bush went to war with Iraq to protect Israel and appease American Jews.

Mr. Hollings refused to talk with the State newspaper in Columbia about the article on Tuesday, but his office released a letter the retiring senator sent a constituent as a statement, the Associated Press reports.

Mr. Hollings wrote that he could provide quotes from Jewish leaders in the United States and Israel to support his position. Mr. Hollings says characterizations of his comments as “anti-Jewish” are ridiculous.

Mr. Hollings’ column appeared in three South Carolina newspapers earlier this month.

Abraham Foxman, president of the Anti-Defamation League, asked Mr. Hollings to retract his comments.

‘Residue of shame’

“With the election season moving into full swing as Americans start thinking about their summer travel plans, it’s sadly predictable that politicians will try to curry favor with voters by playing silly blame games and proposing simplistic quick fixes for rising gasoline prices, which are averaging more than $2 a gallon,” the New York Times says.

“A case in point is the demand made [Tuesday] by 20 Senate Democrats that the government release as much as 60 million barrels of oil from the Strategic Petroleum Reserve over the next two months,” the newspaper said in an editorial.

President Bush is rightly resisting the call. Since 9/11, the administration has been adding to the reserve in a disciplined manner, and it is closing in on its goal of filling up the reserve’s capacity, 700 million barrels. Tapping the reserve to assuage motorists at a time of increasing security threats to already tight fuel supplies would be foolish.

The reserve was never intended as a way to change prices, and it is an ineffective instrument for doing so, “as President Bill Clinton learned in the fall of 2000,” the newspaper said.

Sen. John Kerry, the presumptive Democratic presidential nominee, knows this, of course, and he demeans the seriousness of his own candidacy when he suggests that President Bush could single-handedly bring down fuel costs. Sen. Kerry has urged the administration to stop buying oil for the reserve, as if that would make a difference. Fortunately, some residue of shame has kept him from joining the other Democrats calling for the reserve to be raided.”

On the road

Former Bush administration Cabinet member Mel Martinez has begun active campaigning in Florida to capture the Republican nomination for the U.S. Senate.

The first major campaign event began with a tour across the state from Fort Myers to Jacksonville, Fla., the South Florida Sun-Sentinel reported yesterday.

Mr. Martinez was accompanied on the tour Tuesday by former presidential candidate Jack Kemp and country music singer Lee Greenwood.

Mr. Kemp and Mr. Martinez are both former housing secretaries — Mr. Kemp under the first President Bush and Mr. Martinez under the second.

Mr. Martinez is the apparent choice of the White House for the seat to be vacated by retiring Democratic Sen. Bob Graham, but he trails former Rep. Bill McCollum in opinion polls. There are also four Democrats running for the seat.

Mr. Martinez’ conservative credentials are under attack from his Republican foes and others. They charge that as a past president of the Academy of Florida Trial Lawyers, he has contributed to Democratic candidates in the past, United Press International reports.

Traficant loses

A federal appeals court yesterday upheld the bribery and racketeering conviction of former Rep. James A. Traficant Jr., rejecting his claims of double jeopardy and unfair jury selection.

Traficant, a Democrat who represented northeastern Ohio in the House for nine terms, was expelled from Congress in 2002 after being found guilty of taking kickbacks and favors from businessmen and staff members. He is serving an eight-year prison sentence.

Traficant claimed in his appeal that he was tried twice for the same crimes — by federal prosecutors and the House. He also complained that the way the jury was selected at his trial gave the government an advantage.

The 6th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Cincinnati rejected those claims.

The congressman represented himself at trial, although he is not a lawyer. Lawyers handled his appeal, the Associated Press reports.

Just in time

New York Times columnist Maureen Dowd will jump on the Bush-haters’ book bandwagon with a tome due out in August, just in time for the election.

“Bushworld,” touted by publisher G.P. Putnam’s Sons as “a powerful look at the current administration,” will be the first book for the tart-tongued columnist.

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

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