- The Washington Times - Thursday, September 9, 2004

Bush backers

The American Legion and the Veterans of Foreign Wars, as official policy, do not endorse candidates for president. Simply put, according to a spokesman for the VFW, they don’t want to risk alienating the winner if they picked the other guy.

But that doesn’t mean individual members of the group can’t make a call, and a past commander from each organization endorsed President Bush yesterday — despite the fact that Sen. John Kerry saw active duty in Vietnam and Mr. Bush did not.

Ed Banas, the immediate past national commander in chief of the VFW, said he is endorsing Mr. Bush because he is a “principled leader.”

But it was Mr. Kerry’s activities in Vietnam Veterans Against the War that clinched his decision.

“The thing that was probably most annoying to me and many, many people who served our country is that Mr. Kerry renounced every one of his comrades who served in Vietnam,” Mr. Banas said. “I cannot find that to be a forgivable instance.”

John Brieden, past commander of the American Legion, said he has heard Mr. Kerry speak — including a speech to his organization — and he has a tendency to say “exactly what the group wanted to hear.”

“In fact, his speech was right down our point papers, line by line,” Mr. Brieden said in a conference call organized by the Bush campaign.

“I have to laugh because as I have heard people talk about his flip-flop on positions, I feel all he’s trying to do is tell every group what they want to hear,” he said. “That means a different position for every group.”

A Band-Aid

“[Sen. John] Kerry’s campaign, which once boasted it had only positive TV ads, has churned out nine different Bush-bashing messages over the past week in a sudden shift to hard negative as Clinton pals get aboard,” the New York Post’s Deborah Orin writes.

“Dems say they’re getting even for ads by anti-Kerry Vietnam vets if they blast Bush’s Vietnam-era record.

“But Bush’s record is old news,” Miss Orin said.

“The revelations about Kerry hurt because most voters had no idea that some Navy peers despised him or that he’d painted fellow vets as war criminals.

” ‘It makes Democrats feel good, but this is like a finger in the dike,’ said a veteran Democratic strategist.

” ‘The Kerry campaign is having a cerebral hemorrhage and they’re putting a Band-Aid on his little toe.

” ‘You don’t win a campaign by calling a guy names. It’s not about having a war room. It’s not about fighting back.

” ‘Kerry’s problem is that he still hasn’t explained why he wants to be president or where he wants to lead the country.’ ”

News judgments

“If there were any lingering doubts about whether the mainstream media are in the tank for John Kerry, Wednesday’s news judgments put them to rest,” the Media Research Center’s Brent Baker writes at www.mediaresearch.org.

The same media that “ignored the Swift Boat Veterans for Truth for months and then fretted about their connections to the Bush campaign, demanded the group’s free speech ‘loophole’ be plugged and that President Bush condemn their anti-Kerry TV ads, pounced in seeming unison on supposed ‘new questions’ about Bush’s Air National Guard service forwarded by the AP, Boston Globe and CBS News, a record already dissected for more than a week last February,” Mr. Baker said.

Boos for GOP

Members of the nation’s largest black church group booed U.S. Housing and Urban Development Secretary Alphonso Jackson when he said during a speech yesterday that the Republican Party is committed to helping blacks.

Mr. Jackson, who is black, appeared in New Orleans at the annual meeting of the National Baptist Convention USA a few hours before Democratic presidential nominee Sen. John Kerry was scheduled to appear.

A few of the men in dark suits and women in bright dresses, most of them middle-aged or elderly, laughed derisively at Mr. Jackson’s comment. Then a quiet chorus of boos started, and went on about a minute. When it showed no signs of ending, the parliamentarian, Arkansas Court of Appeals Judge Wendell Griffen, stepped up to the podium.

“My brothers and my sisters, let us allow ourselves to be the people of dignity that we are,” he said.

“We need not agree,” he continued, to scattered, quiet amens. “But we need not be disagreeable.” The same people said amen again.

Mr. Jackson spoke only briefly after that. He did not cut his speech short, he told the Associated Press.

Air Kerry

After months of pledging to contest President Bush in every region of the country, Sen. John Kerry and the Democrats are limiting television advertising to 14 battleground states as the fall campaign opens.

The Associated Press reports that the Democratic shift bumps Republican-leaning Missouri, Colorado, Arizona and several Southern states off the political playing field.

Mr. Kerry’s campaign tried to make the most of its money by reserving $50 million worth of advertising time in 20 states through Election Day. However, a close look at the advertising plans reveal that the priorities are 14 states in which the Kerry campaign or the Democratic Party will air ads this month.

The Kerry campaign has bought time in Florida, Ohio, Iowa, New Mexico, Pennsylvania, Wisconsin, West Virginia, New Hampshire, Michigan and Oregon. Those are the campaign’s 10 most-competitive states and rank at the top of Mr. Bush’s advertising priorities as well. The Democratic National Committee (DNC) is airing commercials in Maine, Washington state, Nevada and Minnesota.

Kerry strategist Tad Devine said the campaign had several million dollars in advertising time reserved for Missouri, Colorado, Arizona, North Carolina, Louisiana and Arkansas, which he called a sign of commitment to those battlegrounds. But the ads aren’t scheduled to air until October, if then. No money has been given to TV stations for the October buys.

“So much for all the talk of expanding the political map,” said Bush strategist Matthew Dowd.

Condit settles

Former Rep. Gary A. Condit has settled the multimillion-dollar libel lawsuit he filed against three tabloid newspapers he says ruined his reputation.

In an agreement quietly filed with a Florida court, Mr. Condit and the publisher of the National Enquirer, Globe and Star tabloid newspapers ended the case in which he had originally sought $209 million, the Associated Press reports.

“My client is satisfied with the settlement,” Mr. Condit’s attorney, L. Lin Wood, said Wednesday, adding that “the amount of the settlement and all terms and conditions are confidential.”

Mr. Wood said the settlement was reached “over the course of several days,” in negotiations handled via telephone. Though the settlement was made final in Palm Beach County Circuit Court on Aug. 18, no public announcement was made at the time and no further judicial approval is required.

“All I can say is the case has been settled,” said Katharine Cloud, a Tennessee-based attorney for American Media Inc., the Florida company that publishes a half-dozen tabloid newspapers.

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

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