- The Washington Times - Wednesday, February 23, 2005

Condi call

When Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice was a little girl — about the same time that one of her classmates was killed in the infamous 1963 Birmingham church bombing — she was photographed by her father, John, in front of the White house.

And she told him, “One day, I’m going to live there.”

Divine intervention?

“I worked for Elizabeth Dole for president in 1999, and you could feel the historic momentum — the buzz was nationwide. It’s time for a woman in the White House,” says Crystal Dueker, the Midwest’s acting chairwoman of Americans For Rice.

She points to a new poll conducted by the Siena College Research Institute that found that 81 percent of 1,125 people surveyed would vote for a woman for president. And whereas the poll also identifies New York Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton as a favorite for the Democratic presidential nomination, the majority on the Republican side clearly favors Miss Rice.

What’s the attraction?

“I look at somebody who doesn’t need training wheels when they enter the White House,” Ms. Dueker says in a telephone interview. “I would like her to follow in the footsteps of Thomas Jefferson, James Madison, James Monroe, John Quincy Adams, Martin Van Buren and James Buchanan, all of whom held the position of secretary of state before they became president.”

Others are impressed with the former White House national security adviser’s international-relations background, including talk-show host Oprah Winfrey, who said of Miss Rice: “There is no pretense, no power play, none of the usual false airs. … She’s got the power, and everyone knows it.”

“I look at statesmanship, where she stands on the world stage and her ability to deal with foreign leaders,” agrees Ms. Dueker. “Some people say she never held elective office. Well, this is a woman who doesn’t need training. She has name recognition, and she is charming.”

The group (AmericansForRice.com) is busy organizing a support network across the country and plans to make its presence felt at the New Hampshire Lincoln-Reagan Dinner March 4.

Painter’s helpers

Cans of bright red paint and brushes, symbolizing the so-called red states that supported President Bush in the 2004 election, were hand-delivered yesterday to key leaders of the Democratic Party.

“Now that you’ve anointed a raving left-wing radical to chair the DNC, you’re likely to need these,” said the accompanying message from the gift giver — the online political action network Laptop America — referring to newly crowned Democratic National Committee Chairman Howard Dean.

Don’t be Daschled

Calling attacks on many of President Bush’s judicial nominees personal and “blatantly partisan,” the Judicial Confirmation Network is teaming up with no less than 70 citizen and grass-roots organizations to circulate a national petition calling on senators to bring numerous stalled nominations to the floor for “respectful debate” and timely votes.

“The rhetoric we are already hearing from the left is divisive and unproductive to the confirmation process,” network executive director Gary Marx says of certain Democrats in the newly convened 109th Congress.

He reminds them that the “stunning re-election defeat of former Senate Minority Leader Tom Daschle was due largely to the public’s perception that [the Democrat] was no longer willing to work in a spirit of bipartisan cooperation with his Republican colleagues.”

Acadiana accents

D.C. restaurateurs Gus DiMillo , Jeff Tunks and David Wizenberg, of DC Coast, TenPenh and Ceiba fame, will bring Louisiana cuisine and atmosphere to the nation’s capital when they open Acadiana in September at 901 New York Ave. NW.

“Our new restaurant will primarily be a Louisiana seafood house,” says Mr. Tunks, head chef of the three restaurants who previously cooked in New Orleans.

As for the restaurant name?

“It was during the late 1700s when 5,000 Acadians were transported to southwest Louisiana, known as the bayou country, or Acadiana, to establish farms and permanent residence in that region,” educates Simone Rathle, a Louisiana native who handles public relations for the three D.C. restaurants.

“Over the years, the Acadians established a certain culture and cuisine that is most distinctive and unchanging.”

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

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