- The Washington Times - Monday, January 17, 2005

Front-runner Dean

Former presidential candidate Howard Dean appears to be the front-runner to become the next chairman of the Democratic National Committee, according to a survey of the DNC conducted by Hotline, the National Journal’s daily briefing on politics.

“But before Deaniacs and anti-Deaniacs scream (in excitement/disgust/angst), the Vermonter appears to be facing a stiff challenge from [former Texas Rep.] Martin Frost, who has one of the larger home-state DNC delegations in his pocket. Even when combining first and second choices, Dean does not yet exceed 40 percent, while Frost is lingering just under 30 percent,” Hotline said.

“Beyond Dean and Frost, no other candidate receives double-digit support,” Hotline said, adding: “The candidate who fared the poorest in the survey is [former Indiana Rep.] Tim Roemer, who received almost three times more ‘last choice’ support than he did first/second choice support combined.”

Hotline surveyed the entire DNC membership from Tuesday through Friday and received responses from 187 members, about 42 percent of the DNC membership.

Strauss backs Frost

Robert Strauss, a former Democratic National Committee chairman, has endorsed fellow Texan and former Rep. Martin Frost’s bid to lead the DNC.

Mr. Strauss served as party chief afterPresident Richard M. Nixon routed Sen. George McGovern in 1972, and saw Gov. Jimmy Carter elected president in 1976.

“I know how tough it is to take over a party after a tough election — and so does Martin Frost,” Mr. Strauss said Thursday. “He is the winning strategist, innovative organizer, and proven spokesperson we need to rebuild the Democratic Party from the ground up and lead us to victories throughout the country. I’ve seen him take on tough challenges and win his entire career, and I’m confident that no one is better qualified to rebuild the DNC for the challenges of the new era.”

Kennedy’s mantra

The war in Iraq has become President Bush’s Vietnam, Sen. Edward M. Kennedy, Massachusetts Democrat, said yesterday on CBS’ “Face the Nation.”

Iraq “clearly is George Bush’s Vietnam,” he said, before disputing Mr. Bush’s statement in an interview in The Washington Post yesterday that his Iraq policy was endorsed by American voters in November.

“I think that’s ridiculous,” Mr. Kennedy said. He referred to the 1964 presidential election, when President Lyndon B. Johnson, who had increased U.S. military involvement in Vietnam, defeated Republican Sen. Barry Goldwater in a landslide.

Four years later, Mr. Johnson had to “basically abdicate the presidency” by announcing he would not seek re-election, mostly because of the unpopularity of the war among Democrats.

According to Mr. Kennedy, Iraq “is a disaster because it’s the a result of blunder after blunder after blunder. And it is George Bush’s Vietnam,” he repeated.

It has “absolutely been a mistake that we went into Iraq, instead of following Osama bin Laden,” Mr. Kennedy said.

No hard feelings

The White House has no hard feelings against CBS News in the aftermath of an investigation of a report on President Bush’s service in the Air National Guard, White House Communications Director Dan Bartlett said yesterday.

Mr. Bartlett told “Fox News Sunday” that he had a brief meeting with CBS News President Andrew Heyward in which the network executive said he wanted to make sure stories are accurate and hoped the network and the White House could have a good relationship during the next four years.

An independent review released last week said “60 Minutes Wednesday” rushed a story to air that questioned Mr. Bush’s National Guard service in the 1970s and then defended the story when holes became apparent in the authentication of documents on which the story was based. CBS responded by firing three news executives and a producer. Mr. Heyward, the news division chief, and “CBS Evening News” anchor Dan Rather, who narrated the Sept. 8 story and subsequent follow-ups, escaped disciplinary action. Mr. Rather has announced that he will retire as anchor of the network’s flagship newscast in March.

“I think the facts came out, and I think that this investigation shows that people are being held [to] account,” Mr. Bartlett said. “I am glad, and I’m sure the president is, that he’s no longer going to be on the ballot, so there’s no more elections for President Bush, so this may be the last time we have to deal with the Guard issue.”

Voice of liberalism

Jerry Springer will host a liberal radio talk show in Cincinnati, where he once served as mayor, and he promises to challenge the Bush administration on issues ranging from Iraq to Social Security.

“I’m excited about it,” Mr. Springer said Wednesday in a telephone interview with the Associated Press from the Chicago offices of TV’s “Jerry Springer Show,” which he will continue to host.

Some see the radio show as a springboard for the Democrat’s possible return to politics in 2006, either in a run for Ohio governor or a Senate seat, although Mr. Springer declined to comment on the issue Wednesday.

The new show is “a great opportunity to offer other voices, which now are not heard very much in the political dialogue of America,” he said.

Mr. Springer did radio commentary in the 1970s in Cincinnati and was a TV news anchor in the 1980s.

He served as a city council-member in the 1970s, but resigned in 1974 after admitting in federal court that he wrote personal checks to pay prostitutes. He was later elected mayor and lost a bid for the Democratic nomination for governor in 1982.

Mr. Springer’s show will be three hours in the morning, five days a week.

The plan is to offer Mr. Springer’s radio talk show in other markets, said Darryl Parks, director of AM radio operations for Clear Channel Cincinnati.

Inflated numbers

“His friends have bragged about the massive popularity of the William J. Clinton Presidential Library and Museum, but Bubba’s not so sure,” Paul Bedard writes in the Washington Whispers column of U.S. News & World Report.

“Maybe it’s because those reports here and elsewhere of over 100,000 touring the facility in the first six weeks were inflated. We hear now that the National Archives and Records Administration, which operates the facility, says only 42,054 paid to enter. The rest were guests and freebies. And even those numbers are being questioned,” Mr. Bedard said.

“They are far fewer than the attendance recorded in the first six weeks at the Ronald Reagan and George H.W. Bush libraries. No wonder Clinton had this reaction to his library’s attendance in Little Rock: ‘I thought it would be better.’”

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

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