- The Washington Times - Tuesday, May 10, 2005

McCain’s ambition

Sen. John McCain says that he “absolutely” wants to be president and that he is qualified for the job, but that he is focused on his Senate duties and will “wait a couple of years” to decide about a White House bid in 2008, the Arizona Republic reports, citing an interview in the June issue of Men’s Journal magazine.

“I have the luxury of being able to wait because I don’t have to lay any of the groundwork. I don’t have to go meet all of the state party chairmen — I’ve done that before,” Mr. McCain, 68, told the magazine, which reaches newsstands today.

He said Republican conservatives have become “more accepting of me than they used to be — not accepting but more accepting — because of the fact that I worked hard for Bush’s re-election.”

As for potential rivals in 2008, Mr. McCain said his friend Sen. John Kerry, Massachusetts Democrat, should try to curb his desire to run for the job at least for now.

“It’s pretty obvious, the way he’s acting, he’d like to try it again,” Mr. McCain said. “I’d advise him to be the best senator he could be and put those ambitions aside for a while.”

Kerry’s ambition

Sen. John Kerry, Massachusetts Democrat, held a campaign-style rally in Baton Rouge, La., last week and urged supporters to rally against the Washington establishment, the Boston Globe reports.

“Washington seems more and more out of touch with the difficulties the average family is facing,” Mr. Kerry told the crowd of about 150. “Go out of here, take some anger and a little bit of outrage at the fact that Washington is not dealing with the real concerns of our country.”

Globe reporter Rick Klein commented: “It is a striking transformation for someone who has been identified with that establishment for so long, but a change he and his aides insist is sincere. And while Kerry has repeatedly pledged to remain relevant following his presidential campaign, the intensity of his efforts has been surprising, particularly because recent failed presidential nominees have entered reclusive periods after their campaigns ended.

“In essence, Kerry is trying to reignite a fire that never quite raged for his presidential bid on behalf of a domestic agenda he is pushing in Congress.”

Huffington’s debut

Political gadfly Arianna Huffington debuted a new Web site yesterday that features commentary from her celebrity pals in Hollywood.

“Welcome to the Huffington Post, which, as our motto says, has been delivering news and opinion since, well, a few hours ago,” Mrs. Huffington told readers at www.huffingtonpost.com.

The site is seen by some industry observers as a liberal challenge to the Drudge Report (www.drudgereport.com), the muckraking 10-year-old Web site that broke President Clinton’s affair with an intern.

The site, part blog and part news primer with links to established media, claimed a first “exclusive,” Agence France-Presse reports

Citing a leak from a new book by Gerald Posner, the Huffington Post says Saudi Arabia has planted explosives, including radioactive “dirty bombs,” to cripple its oil production in the event of invasion or internal uprisings.

Fanfare around Miss Huffington’s latest grab for the limelight focused on promised “blogging” from her Hollywood contacts, such as Warren Beatty and Diane Keaton.

But the site yesterday had a distinctly cerebral feel, with a musing on the threat to metaphor written by film and theater director Mike Nichols and a note on blogging by playwright David Mamet. Actor John Cusack meanwhile eulogized “Gonzo” journalist Hunter S. Thompson.

Florida candidate

Florida’s attorney general plans to file paperwork this week to seek the Republican nomination for governor, the Associated Press reports, citing sources close to the attorney general.

Charlie Crist, 48, would become the first Republican to announce formally his intention to replace Gov. Jeb Bush, who is limited to two terms.

Three sources close to Mr. Crist confirmed the decision on the condition of anonymity, the AP said. They said Mr. Crist planned to make a public announcement by midweek.

State Chief Financial Officer Tom Gallagher, 61, is also expected to enter the Republican race, and Lt. Gov. Toni Jennings may as well.

Mr. Crist, a former state senator, unsuccessfully challenged incumbent Democrat Bob Graham for the U.S. Senate in 1998. He followed Mr. Gallagher as education commissioner in 2000 before winning the attorney general’s race in 2002 when Mr. Gallagher became chief financial officer.

Among Democrats, U.S. Rep. Jim Davis of Tampa and state Sen. Rod Smith of Gainesville have already announced they will seek the party’s nomination for governor.

Mumbling ahead

Boston Mayor Thomas Menino isn’t afraid to joke about his own oratorical skills — or lack thereof — but it appears that his re-election campaign wants to stop his critics from beating him to the punch line.

The Menino Committee has bought the rights to many Web domain names that could be used to mock the mayor’s reputation for mumbling his way through speeches. The list of names they purchased includes meninomumbles.com, mumblesmenino.org and mumblesmeninoformayor.net, the Associated Press reports.

“We bought both positive and negative domain names,” the mayor’s campaign manager, Beth Leonard, told the Boston Globe in yesterday’s editions. She wouldn’t elaborate.

Mr. Menino said he did not know about the purchases, but doubts his opponents would launch an attack Web site.

“I don’t think they would stoop to that level,” he said.

Mr. Menino has embraced the “Mumbles” nickname in recent years, referring to it in speeches.

“I’ve done pretty well for a guy who mumbles,” he said last week. “We’re not in a speech class. It’s not a debating society.”

Greg Pierce can be reached at 202/636-3285 or gpierce@washingtontims.com.

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