- The Washington Times - Wednesday, January 18, 2006

Lott to run again

Sen. Trent Lott, Mississippi Republican, told supporters yesterday that he will seek a fourth Senate term, saying he wants to use his seniority to help rebuild his state, which was devastated by Hurricane Katrina.

“I have chosen Mississippi and America once again,” he said to cheers in his hometown of Pascagoula. “I am going to ask the people to re-elect me.”

Mr. Lott, who had considered retiring at the end of this term, would not say whether he will seek to regain a Senate leadership post. He said that “options are open” and that he has “never been shy” about trying to get into the best position to help his home state. But he pledged to take things “one day at a time.”

There has been speculation that he might try to regain a Senate leadership slot. Majority Leader Bill Frist, Tennessee Republican, has said he won’t seek re-election, meaning the post would be vacant next year.

Mr. Lott was forced to give up the majority leader post in 2002 after being accused by some of making racist remarks at a 100th birthday party for the now-deceased Sen. Strom Thurmond, South Carolina Republican.

Instead of leaving the political scene, Mr. Lott remained in the Senate, continuing to be an active voice on a range of issues and serving as chairman of the Rules Committee.

Club backs Democrat

The conservative Club for Growth endorsed its first Democrat ever yesterday, announcing its support for Rep. Henry Cuellar of Texas in his re-election bid.

“There are a lot of Republicans that could take some lessons from Henry Cuellar’s votes,” said Patrick J. Toomey, president of the club and a former Republican member of Congress.

He said Mr. Cuellar’s votes for the Central American Free Trade Agreement and repeal of the estate tax and his support for school choice, especially in the face of pressure from House Democratic leaders to oppose them, deserves support.

“It shows that this is a guy with guts and a commitment to the principles he believes in,” Mr. Toomey said.

The club usually gets into Republican primary battles to support conservatives over liberals, but Mr. Toomey said yesterday’s move shows that it is not tied to a party, but rather is “committed to a set of principles.”

For his part, Mr. Cuellar was surprised to find out about the endorsement.

“I find that with any endorsement, you get half of their friends and all of their enemies,” he said. “The only endorsement that I am looking for is the endorsement of the voters in this district, and I am working hard everyday to earn it.”

His campaign also took issue with the claim that he supports school choice — he does support allowing a student from a failing public school to transfer to another public school, but not vouchers for private schools.

Condi’s fans

The White House likes the idea of Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice running for president, even if Miss Rice herself keeps saying no.

At a time when Republicans such as Arizona Sen. John McCain are openly pondering a run for president in 2008, Miss Rice’s name keeps popping up at the White House, Reuters news agency reports.

Yesterday, when White House spokesman Scott McClellan was asked when the United States would have its first female president, he noted Miss Rice had just returned from the inauguration of Liberia’s first female president.

“But I’ll avoid going there because I think she’s made her views clear. But I have my personal thoughts about what a great job she would do,” Mr. McClellan said.

First lady Laura Bush told CNN last week that the United States would probably have a female president in one of the next few presidential elections and that she would love to see Miss Rice run. She noted, as well, “She says she definitely is not running.”

Clinton’s license

The suspension of Bill Clinton’s Arkansas law license, imposed as punishment for lying to a federal court, ends this week, but an aide says the ex-president’s current work fighting AIDS and helping disaster victims doesn’t require a law license.

The Arkansas Supreme Court’s Committee on Professional Conduct, citing court policy, would not say whether Mr. Clinton is seeking reinstatement, the Associated Press reports. Clinton spokesman Jay Carson said the former president has other matters pending.

“I can say right off the bat that he’s focused on the work of his foundation, which among many activities is treating hundreds of thousands of AIDS patients around the world, fighting childhood obesity here at home and helping tsunami and hurricane victims,” Mr. Carson said.

On Mr. Clinton’s last full day as president, Jan. 19, 2001, he agreed to a five-year license suspension. The agreement came on the condition that Whitewater prosecutors would not pursue criminal charges against him after he lied under oath about his relationship with White House intern Monica Lewinsky.

Nagin apologizes

New Orleans Mayor C. Ray Nagin apologized yesterday for a Martin Luther King Day speech in which he predicted that New Orleans would be a “chocolate” city once more and asserted that “God was mad at America,” the Associated Press reports.

“I said some things that were totally inappropriate. … It shouldn’t have happened,” Mr. Nagin said, explaining he was caught up in the moment as he spoke to mostly black spectators, many of them fearful of being shut out of the city’s rebuilding.

During the speech Monday, Mr. Nagin, who is black, said the hurricanes that hit the nation in quick succession were a sign of God’s anger toward the United States and toward black communities, too, for their violence and infighting. He also said New Orleans has to be a mostly black city again because “it’s the way God wants it to be.”

New Jersey poll

New Jersey state Sen. Thomas H. Kean Jr., a Republican, holds an 11-point lead over Democratic Rep. Robert Menendez in this year’s battle for a U.S. Senate seat, but many voters remain undecided, according to a poll released Monday.

Mr. Menendez will be sworn in today to fill out the unexpired term of Sen. Jon Corzine, who was elected New Jersey’s governor in November.

In the poll, Mr. Kean received 36 percent to Mr. Menendez’s 25 percent, while 37 percent said they did not know who they would support, said Peter Woolley, director of Fairleigh Dickinson University’s PublicMind Poll.

“Not only is it early in the election cycle, but neither of these candidates has ever mounted a statewide race,” Mr. Woolley said. “Both will have to introduce themselves to voters around the state.”

Mr. Kean’s advantage is his name recognition among Republicans — his father is the popular former Gov. Thomas H. Kean. A majority of Republicans — 57 percent — said they would vote for Mr. Kean, who has no primary opponent, the Associated Press reports.

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

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