- The Washington Times - Thursday, February 16, 2006

A reporter’s garb

“On [Monday’s] ‘Countdown With Keith Olbermann‘ on MSNBC, Washington Post reporter Dana Milbank appeared for an interview wearing a bright-orange hunter’s vest and hat,” Dave Pierre writes at www.newsbusters.org.

“How on earth is anyone supposed to believe that The Washington Post can maintain any objectivity on the Cheney hunting story when one of their most veteran and prominent reporters shows up for an interview dressed like this?” Mr. Pierre asked.

“Think back to 1998. Imagine a female newspaper reporter (not an opinion columnist, but a reporter, mind you) showing up for a television interview dressed in a beret and looking like Monica Lewinsky. Or a male columnist wearing a Clinton wig and holding a cigar. It never would have happened, because these people would have lost their jobs. Their employer’s credibility would have been shot.”

War on lobbyists

Republicans may change the rules allowing former senators to attend weekly GOP luncheon meetings after former Sen. Lauch Faircloth attended a session while lobbying a bill pending on the floor.

Mr. Faircloth, a North Carolina Republican, is a registered lobbyist for companies such as Honeywell and the Dow Chemical Co., which are advocating passage of a bill to limit the liability of companies facing asbestos-related claims.

He attended Tuesday’s luncheon, just hours before a crucial vote on the bill, which would end decades of lawsuits against manufacturers and their insurers, potentially saving them great sums of money.

Mr. Faircloth, who lost a 1998 re-election bid to John Edwards, did not lobby his former colleagues at the meeting, several senators said. But he did listen in as the asbestos bill was discussed, the senators told the Associated Press.

The episode came as lawmakers on both sides of Capitol Hill — the House and Senate — are examining ways to reform lobbying rules in the wake of the Jack Abramoff scandal. Just two weeks ago, the House voted to take away access to the floor and the House gym from former members who are now registered lobbyists.

The Tuesday meeting hosted by the Republican Policy Committee is a weekly lunch where Republicans “gather and discuss issues before the Senate, review the anticipated agenda, and discuss policy options,” according to the RPC’s Web site, www.senate.gov/~rpc/.

“The Republican Policy Committee chairmen have a long-standing tradition of welcoming former senators to the weekly policy lunch. These former senators do not lobby their former colleagues,” said RPC Chairman Jon Kyl, Arizona Republican, who added, “There may be a revision of the current policy of permitting former senators to attend the lunch in the future.”

Pennsylvania poll

Pennsylvania Gov. Edward G. Rendell, a Democrat, leads his Republican challenger, former Pittsburgh Steelers star Lynn Swann, 48 percent to 36 percent, according to a poll released yesterday.

The Quinnipiac University poll found that independent voters preferred Mr. Rendell over Mr. Swann, 49 percent to 31 percent. Seventy-four percent of Democrats backed Mr. Rendell, as did 22 percent of Republicans.

Sixty-four percent of Republicans said they backed Mr. Swann, as did 15 percent of Democrats.

The poll surveyed 1,045 registered Pennsylvania voters by telephone and had a sampling margin of error of three percentage points.

Democrats outnumber Republicans in Pennsylvania, 48 percent to 41 percent, but the parties have taken turns holding the governorship for more than a half-century. Since the state constitution was amended in the late 1960s to allow governors to serve two consecutive terms, it has changed parties every eight years. In that time, no governor has been denied a second term.

Candidate training

The Republican National Committee has announced two first-of-their-kind education and training programs for potential minority political candidates and operatives.

“We recognize that you cannot compete without helping candidates maneuver through the political campaign process,” said Tara Wall, director of RNC outreach communications.

The two-day minority candidate training session will be held April 28 and 29, and the deadline for applications is March 31.

The program is open to any Republican minority candidate running for public office in 2006. While attending the two-day-training session, candidates will learn how to run grass-roots campaigns, raise funds, build a 72-hour get-out-the-vote program and win their specific races.

Candidates will be taught by Republican leaders and professional campaign advisers. There is no fee to participate, but candidates are responsible for transportation to and from the college and for their lodging.

Courses will be held at the RNC headquarters near the Capitol.

A second program, the Rainey-Revels internship, takes place May 30 until Aug. 11, and the deadline for applications is March 15.

“It is an internship training program named in honor of Joseph H. Rainey and Hiram Revels, the first African-Americans to serve in the House of Representatives and the Senate,” Miss Wall said.

She said the program will give young college students and recent graduates an opportunity to learn about the internal workings of the party, its values and mission.

The two outreach initiatives were announced last week during a speech by party Chairman Ken Mehlman at Lincoln University, a historically black school in Lancaster, Pa.

Jesse and Condi

The Rev. Jesse Jackson and Condoleezza Rice get the top support among blacks asked to name the nation’s “most important black leader,” according to an Associated Press-AOL Black Voices poll. Next come Colin L. Powell and Barack Obama.

Many blacks question whether any one person can wear the leadership mantle for such a large and diverse group of people. At the same time, two-thirds in the poll said leaders in their communities were effective representatives of their interests.

When blacks were asked to come up with the person they considered “the most important black leader,” 15 percent chose Mr. Jackson, a civil rights activist who ran for president in the 1980s, while 11 percent picked Secretary of State Rice, 8 percent chose former Secretary of State Powell, and 6 percent named Mr. Obama, a freshman Democratic senator from Illinois.

About one-third declined to volunteer a name.

Two of the four mentioned most often — Miss Rice and Mr. Powell — are from a Republican administration that is unpopular with most blacks, the Associated Press noted.

Nation of Islam minister Louis Farrakhan got 4 percent; talk-show host Oprah Winfrey received 3 percent; Martin Luther King, who was killed in 1968, got 3 percent; and former Democratic presidential candidate the Rev. Al Sharpton got 2 percent. About 14 percent picked somebody else.

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

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