Thursday, April 14, 2005

The race begins

We reported recently that newly picked Democratic National Committee Chairman Howard Dean would waste no time kicking off the party’s 2008 campaign to retake the White House.

As the former Vermont governor and 2004 presidential candidate explains it, every four years — a few months before the presidential election — the Democratic Party put staff and resources on the ground “in a few battleground states — and then they’re gone.”

“After November, the whole operation disappears,” he says. “That hasn’t worked.”

In the past few days, Mr. Dean has huddled with state party chairmen, and they’ve agreed to put staff on the ground starting this year in numerous key states. The first four will be North Carolina, West Virginia, Missouri and North Dakota.

The chairman says the DNC initially will invest a half-million dollars in the four states to hire professional organizers who can build a network of Democrats at the grass-roots level.


If you didn’t catch former General Electric Chairman Jack Welch joining Chris Matthews in Boston for “Hardball” on MSNBC this week, there was some intriguing discussion on the previous presidential election and some predictions for 2008. (Mr. Welch is author of a new book titled “Winning”).

In a nutshell, Mr. Welch said he thinks New York Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton could be elected the next president — depending, that is, on who her opponent is.

In a race between Mrs. Clinton and Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist, Mr. Welch said, “I would bet on her.”

Florida Gov. Jeb Bush?

“I would bet on Jeb,” he said.

Former New York Mayor Rudolph W. Giuliani?

“It’s a flip.”

Arizona Sen. John McCain?

“I would bet on McCain.”

Mr. Welch opined that Massachusetts Sen. John Kerry lost the 2004 election because of the “likability” issue — “whether he is authentic or not.”

George Bush, whatever you want to say, you knew where he stood,” he said. “I like, most of all, his straightforward stuff. He tells you what he thinks. He says it. And he acts on it … . Just a great guy, in my view, a real person.”

“Yes,” Mr. Matthews agreed. “There’s no artifice.”


On the eve of the April 15 tax deadline, a new national survey commissioned by the Tax Foundation shows that 59 percent of U.S. adults think they unfairly pay more federal income tax as a percentage of income than billionaire Donald Trump.

Which means?

“[A] majority of Americans believe federal taxes are too high,” says foundation President Scott A. Hodge.

Corrupted culture

Heritage Foundation Vice President Rebecca Hagelin had a hunch her new book, “Home Invasion: Protecting Your Family in a Culture That’s Gone Stark-Raving Mad,” might resonate with concerned Americans.

But less than 24 hours after its publication this week, even the author was surprised to see the book disappearing off bookshelves.

A mother of three and a familiar face on Capitol Hill, Mrs. Hagelin writes of an insidious enemy that is poisoning families through the Internet, television, magazines and music, infecting the family van, schools, textbooks, shopping stores and even churches.

Two thumbs up

“Film in flight: ‘Ladder 49’ with John Travolta, a tear-jerker.”

— Official White House pool report of President Bush‘s flight this week from Texas back to Washington aboard Air Force One.

• John McCaslin, whose column is nationally syndicated, can be reached at 202/636-3284 or

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