- The Washington Times - Monday, February 7, 2005

Roemer bows out

Tim Roemer, the last opponent of Howard Dean in the race for Democratic National Committee chairman, said yesterday he’s bowing out of the race — but he offered a warning to Democrats.

Mr. Dean, a 2004 presidential primary candidate and former governor of Vermont, is expected to win the DNC chairmanship at the election Saturday.

Mr. Roemer, a former Indiana congressman and a member of the September 11 commission, said Democrats must be more inclusive in their outreach to fast-growing parts of the country, the Associated Press reports.

“I got into this race five weeks ago to talk about the devastating loss we experienced in November,” Mr. Roemer said in an interview. “It was not about 60,000 votes in Ohio. It was about losing 97 of the 100 fastest-growing counties in the country. If that’s a trend, in business or politics, you’re in trouble.”

Republicans are in the strongest position they’ve been in since the early 20th century, Mr. Roemer said.

Mr. Roemer, who said top Democrats in Congress encouraged him to enter the chairman’s race, said he wants to strengthen the party’s position on national security.

“If there’s one reason Senator [John] Kerry lost the presidential race, it was because he failed to make the American people feel safer,” Mr. Roemer said, adding that he also wanted to encourage talk within the party about developing a stronger position on values.

Mr. Roemer said he had hoped to make the party more inclusive, especially on abortion, which he opposes except in cases of rape, incest and the health of the mother.

Pro-life Democrats

Priests for Life issued the following statement yesterday after the decision of former Indiana Rep. Tim Roemer to drop out of the race for Democratic National Committee chairman:

“Mr. Roemer’s opposition to abortion rights and his call for his party to be more inclusive of pro-life Democrats is far more representative of grass-roots Democrats than the extreme position that marks the party’s official stance. We now call upon [Howard] Dean to show grass-roots Democrats how serious he is regarding making more room in the party for pro-life Democrats.”

Reid’s plea

Senate Democratic leader Harry Reid yesterday urged President Bush to stop the Republican National Committee from calling him an obstructionist and criticizing his Senate record.

Mr. Bush repeatedly has said he wants to work with Democrats, most recently during his State of the Union speech last week, Mr. Reid said in a speech on the Senate floor.

“Why didn’t he stand and tell the American people last Wednesday that one of the first items of business we were going to do in Washington is send out a hit piece on the Democratic leader?” Mr. Reid said.

The RNC plans to send a 13-page document to more than a million people — including some in Mr. Reid’s home state of Nevada — analyzing and criticizing his votes and stances before he officially took over as Senate Democratic leader in January, the Associated Press reports.

Republican Sen. John Thune, South Dakota Republican, defeated Democratic leader Tom Daschle last year after Republicans charged that Mr. Daschle was an “obstructionist” to Mr. Bush’s agenda and judicial nominees.

RNC spokesman Brian Jones said Mr. Reid is picking up where Mr. Daschle left off.

“Harry Reid right now is the leader of the party of ‘no,’” Mr. Jones said. “He is the party’s chief obstructionist, and we’re going to continue to talk about this in the months to come.”

Mr. Bush can’t divorce himself from what the RNC is doing, Mr. Reid said.

The RNC “is the president’s organization,” Mr. Reid said. “He can’t say one thing to the American people and then … send out scurrilous letters saying that I’m a bad guy, in great detail. I mean, is President George Bush a man of his word?”

Few complaints

Sen. Mel Martinez, Florida Republican, says he is proud of the speech he gave partially in Spanish on the Senate floor last week despite some criticism.

Mr. Martinez said the receptionist at his office in Washington received “two or three” phone calls criticizing the use of any language but English in the Senate, the Miami Herald reported yesterday.

Mr. Martinez spoke Thursday in support of the nomination of Alberto Gonzales as attorney general.

“It was such a historic moment,” Mr. Martinez said of the nomination of the first Hispanic attorney general. “I feel the Hispanic community of America should hear me speak out on that.”

He said he had butterflies in the run-up to the speech, but it worked out.

“I was nervous about it, more than I would normally be before giving a talk,” he said.

Mr. Martinez, one of two Hispanics in the Senate, said he had asked permission before he spoke and “did it in a respectful way.”

Challenging Stabenow

Oakland County, Mich., Sheriff Michael Bouchard said yesterday he will run next year for the U.S. Senate seat now held by Democrat Debbie Stabenow.

“Now is the right time to move forward,” Sheriff Bouchard, a former state senator, said on WJR-AM radio in Detroit.

Sheriff Bouchard, 48, was appointed as Oakland County sheriff in 1999, then elected to the position in 2000 and re-elected in 2004. He served in the state Senate from 1991 to 1999.

Mrs. Stabenow was elected to the Senate in 2000, narrowly beating Sen. Spencer Abraham, who was seeking a second term. She had served four years in the House of Representatives and 16 years in the state Legislature.

Other Michigan Republicans considering a Senate run in 2006 are Mr. Abraham’s wife, Jane Abraham; real estate developer Peter Cummings; Oakland County Prosecutor David Gorcyca; and the Rev. Keith Butler. Industrial engineer Bart Baron already is running, United Press International reports.

Thompson’s speech

Former Health and Human Services Secretary Tommy G. Thompson told Wisconsin editors that he supports embryonic stem-cell research, but he did not believe that the president’s limits on research caused any great harm.

Mr. Thompson’s speech Thursday to the Wisconsin Newspaper Association was his first public appearance in the state as a private citizen in 38 years, the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel reported. Mr. Thompson served as governor of Wisconsin before joining President Bush’s Cabinet.

“I happen to be a big believer in all stem-cell research,” including those involving stem cells from human embryos, Mr. Thompson said.

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

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