- The Washington Times - Friday, September 17, 2004

It’s trust, dummy

John Kerry’s “informal” adviser James Carville concedes in his latest political memo of President Bush’s re-election chances: “His lead is real, and there is no doubt that Kerry has lost ground on a range of issues.”

Still, Mr. Carville insists in his Democracy Corps missive that the 2004 presidential election not only remains close and competitive, voters “still want change. They are upset with Bush’s direction on Iraq and the economy, and have serious doubts about him.”

Les T. Csorba, a former senior White House adviser to Mr. Bush, disagrees such doubt exists: “To borrow a Carvellian turn of phrase: ‘It’s trust, stupid.’ ”

“The election of 2004 remains a battle for trust,” he explains further. “While pundits point to the president’s recent ascendancy as the front-runner, they note how much he has widened the gap of who is perceived to be the more resilient commander in chief and who can better wage the war on terror.”

Mr. Bush “knows that as his trust goes, so goes the election,” adds Mr. Csorba, who is author of the new book “Trust: The One Thing that Makes or Breaks a Leader.”

No eggs to fire

What do you do if you are the owner of a tiny sandwich shop and the president of the United States drops in for lunch and orders something that’s not on the menu?

Angel Howell experienced that unsettling feeling yesterday when President Bush paid a visit to her Brick House Deli on Main Street in Anoka, Minn. The president ordered an egg-salad sandwich.

“Fire one up,” Mr. Bush said.

“Unfortunately,” records the official White House pool report, “that was not among the selections offered on the menu, as displayed on plates on the wall behind the counter. He was told he could have tuna salad or chicken salad, and he chose the chicken salad sandwich, which he complemented with a bag of Doritos and a Diet Coke.”

Words of the week

“It’s less than a 1 percent reduction — only 729 words — but it’s a good first step.”

Alan Korwin, author of “Gun Laws of America,” celebrating the fact that for the first time in years a federal gun law (a ban on certain “military-style assault weapons” that expired Monday) has come off the books. Since the Gun Control Act in 1968, 74,426 words of gun law have been added by Congress.

Rotunda rites

Rep. Rahm Emanuel, Illinois Democrat and former senior adviser to President Clinton, has proposed that a Troop Memorial be displayed in the U.S. Capitol Rotunda recognizing U.S. soldiers killed in Iraq and Afghanistan.

“We haven’t heard back from Mr. Hastert’s office yet,” Cecelia J. Prewett, the congressman’s communications director, says of a proposal Mr. Emanuel sent to House Speaker J. Dennis Hastert, Illinois Republican. “Outside our office here in Longworth we’ve set up a display similar to what can be done in the Rotunda.”

The congressman says the memorial would be a fitting tribute to the fallen troops and their families, pointing out that “throughout its history the Rotunda has been used for public viewing of our fallen heroes, bestowing upon them one of our nation’s highest honors.”

Second term?

Secretary of State Colin L. Powell was meeting with editors of The Washington Times yesterday when he mentioned an annual review of religious freedom in Saudi Arabia and said “we’ll measure to see if there has been progress or not.”

Foreign editor David Jones saw an opening: “You just implied you’ll be here next year — are you contemplating a second term? There have been reports to that effect.”

“Oh, God,” Mr. Powell said, and jokingly turned to an assistant: “I thought I told you, Emily, to call over and tell them ….” The secretary then recited his standard response to such inquiries: “I serve at the pleasure of the president.”

The next question: “If the president is re-elected and asks you to serve again, will you serve again?”

“Ah … come on,” Mr. Powell said, his future in a possible second Bush term having been the subject of rampant speculation.

“I don’t have a term, as I have to remind people,” he said, but added: “That doesn’t usually get me out of the question.”

John McCaslin, whose column is nationally syndicated, can be reached at 202/636-3284 or [email protected]

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