- The Washington Times - Tuesday, May 25, 2004

Kerry’s deadline

Sen. John Kerry is expected to decide this week whether he will delay accepting the Democratic presidential nomination, his timetable moved up under pressure from party officials.

Several advisers want him to forgo the nomination at the Democratic convention in late July and wait five weeks until President Bush accepts the Republican nod. That would give both candidates the same amount of time to spend $75 million in public money set aside for the general election.

Mr. Kerry had planned to wait several weeks before deciding what to do, but word of his deliberations was leaked last week, forcing his hand. Campaign officials began telling fellow Democrats yesterday a decision should come within the next day or two.

They did not say which way Mr. Kerry is leaning, the Associated Press reports.

No matter what he decides, the Democratic convention will be held in Boston from July 26-29.

Colorado shocker

Colorado Attorney General Ken Salazar began revamping his Senate campaign Monday after losing the top spot on the Democratic primary ballot to political novice Mike Miles over the weekend.

Delegates at the state convention in Pueblo stunned both camps and gave Mr. Miles 52 percent of the vote, compared with 48 percent for Mr. Salazar, the Associated Press reports. Candidates needed 30 percent to get on the ballot.

The victory means Mr. Miles gets top billing on the Aug. 10 primary ticket, and Mr. Salazar will have to reassure supporters he is a viable candidate. He has been the favorite of party officials in part because of his experience in statewide elections and his appeal to Hispanics.

Salazar campaign chairmanMike Stratton said 400 committed delegates failed to show up Saturday because they believed Mr. Salazar had the top spot on the ballot locked up.

The campaign is now contacting delegates to make sure they are ready to go to work on the primary, Mr. Stratton said. Mr. Salazar is also preparing for a statewide series of debates with Mr. Miles, including in rural areas where Mr. Salazar believes he will fare well.

Mr. Miles said Mr. Salazar lost top billing because the attorney general supported public school vouchers and the war in Iraq, which appeal to unaffiliated voters and Republicans, instead of focusing on Democratic issues.

Taiwan trip

The State Department yesterday said that Vice President Annette Lu of the Republic of China (Taiwan) would stop over in the United States on her way to Central America.

United Press International reports that Mrs. Lu will arrive in Las Vegas on Friday and will stop over in San Francisco on June 6, State Department spokesman Richard Boucher said.

“We approved the request based on the criteria we’ve used for past transits; that is, the safety, comfort and convenience of the traveler or respecting the dignity of the traveler,” he said.

He called the visit “private” and “nonofficial,” adding there would be some meetings with members of Congress and the American Institute in Taiwan, but there were no plans for public or media events.

The issue is a delicate one because China regards Taiwan as a renegade province and frowns upon other nations who meet Taiwanese officials. Although the United States is a close Taiwanese ally, it has dissuaded Taipei from declaring independence from the mainland.

Hollywood cash

“Star-powered California cash from a who’s who of Hollywood has poured into an unlikely political race in recent weeks — the fight for Kentucky’s Fourth Congressional District,” the San Francisco Chronicle reports.

“The movie money flowing to a region best known for horses and coal is aimed at Democratic hopeful Nick Clooney, who — while not exactly a household name in California — has the family connections that count. In recent weeks, Clooney has recently reaped an ‘Ocean’s 11’ of contributions, thanks to the clout of his son — actor George Clooney,” reporter Carla Marinucciwrites.

“The seat has been held by Democratic Rep. Ken Lucas, who won a narrow victory two years ago over Republican Geoff Davis. Now, Clooney is set to face Davis, who won a GOP primary last week, and celebrities are rushing like ‘Three Kings’ to help out their colleague’s dad by writing fat campaign checks.

“Indeed, a full two-thirds of Clooney’s donations to date come from outside his own home state, according to OpenSecrets.org, a campaign-donation watchdog group.

“Check out the lists of A-list donors that John Kerry can only wish for:

“In the $2,000 range: Kevin Spacey; Danny DeVito and wife Rhea Perlman; Kevin Costner; Paul Newman; Oscar-winning actors Adrien Brody and Renee Zellweger; actor-director Michael Douglas; TV star Bonnie Hunt; Screen Actors Guild president Melissa Gilbert; ‘Friends’ star Matt LeBlanc and his wife, Melissa; singer Bette Midler; former ‘ER’ star Noah Wyle and his wife; producer Jerry Weintraub; and of course, George Clooney and his personal assistant Amy Cohen.”

Mr. Lucas, 70, a conservative Democrat, is stepping down after three terms to honor his self-imposed term-limit pledge.

Bush ad

President Bush, hurting in the polls over the perception that he is mishandling the Iraq war, has planned a vigorous defense with a series of speeches on the subject over the next six weeks. But that doesn’t mean he’s given up going on offense against Democratic presidential candidate Sen.John Kerry on the war on terrorism.

A new 30-second TV ad, released yesterday, accuses Mr. Kerry of “playing politics with national security.”

While noting that Mr. Kerry voted for the Patriot Act, it says that after he was “pressured by fellow liberals, he changed his position,” and wants to weaken the law that gives “law enforcement vital tools to fight terrorism.”

“While wiretaps, subpoena powers and surveillances are routinely used against drug dealers and organized crime, Kerry would now repeal the Patriot Act’s use of these tools against terrorists,” the ad says.

Kerry campaign spokesman Chad Clanton said the new Bush ad “is completely false, and they know it.”

“John Kerry has not only supported wiretaps, subpoena powers and surveillances used against drug dealers and organized crime, he used them as a prosecutor to put criminals behind bars,” Mr. Clanton said, saying Mr. Kerry seeks only to “strengthen the Patriot Act.”

“The fact is, John Kerry wants to use the same tools against terrorists,” he said.

Mr. Kerry spoke highly of the Patriot Act in when it was passed in October 2001, but became harshly critical in December — when liberal Howard Dean was ahead in the race for the Democratic nomination and railing against the law.

After Mr. Kerry wrapped up the nomination earlier this year, he stopped warning crowds that “an FBI agent could be rifling through your possessions … without ever letting you know they had been there.”

And while in December, Mr. Kerry said the Patriot Act had to be “replaced” to end “assaults on our civil liberties,” he said in a radio address last month that it merely had to be “fixed.”

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

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