- The Washington Times - Thursday, March 23, 2006

Into the lion’s den

Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen says she encourages conservatives to go on left-leaning television shows to expose those audiences to the Republican message.

The Florida Republican appeared on the HBO program “Real Time with Bill Maher” on Friday night and had quite the exchange with liberal actor and comedian Richard Belzer.

The two squared off over the war and sanctions on Cuba, while the audience cheered for Mr. Belzer.

Mr. Belzer characterized the troops in Iraq as “19- and 20-year-old kids who couldn’t get a job,” prompting Mr. Maher to say his guest had gone “over the line.”

“The soldiers are not scholars; they’re not war experts,” Mr. Belzer said.

Mrs. Ros-Lehtinen said she welcomes civilized debate on such topics, but said the actor’s comments were “shameful” and degraded members of the military such as her stepson.

“It’s always very, very liberal, but I think it’s important for conservatives to go on these shows because if you’re afraid to go on them, you don’t get a balanced view,” she said yesterday in an interview with Christina Bellantoni of The Washington Times. “Everyone has a tendency to go with groups that make them feel comfortable, but it’s good to find out what the other side is thinking.”

Mrs. Ros-Lehtinen, who appeared on the same program last April, said the viewing audience is not all liberal. Tomorrow night, Rep. Jack Kingston, Georgia Republican, will be a guest on the show, which is broadcast live from Los Angeles.

Protecting property

New Hampshire lawmakers gave preliminary approval yesterday to a constitutional amendment that would limit government’s ability to seize private property by prohibiting the use of eminent domain to take property for private developers.

The measure was prompted by a Supreme Court ruling last year that allowed New London, Conn., to take a group of older homes along the waterfront and turn them over to a developer who plans to build offices, a hotel and a convention center.

The state House and Senate voted overwhelmingly in favor of identical resolutions, the Associated Press reports. For the measure to be ratified, two-thirds of voters would need to back the amendment in a statewide vote, probably in November.

After the high court’s eminent domain ruling, activists tried to seize Justice David H. Souter’s 200-year-old New Hampshire farmhouse in retaliation for voting with the majority.

Earlier this month, voters in the town of Weare decided to leave Justice Souter’s house alone and instead urged the legislature to take action.

Protecting yourself

The governor of Indiana has signed a measure that extends residents’ right to use deadly force to protect themselves, spelling out that they don’t have to back down before resorting to gunfire.

State law already allowed Hoosiers to use a gun or other deadly weapon to prevent serious bodily injury to themselves or someone else.

The statute that Gov. Mitch Daniels signed Tuesday adds that a resident “does not have a duty to retreat,” a phrase intended to prevent courts from determining that people must give way before using deadly force, the Associated Press reports.

Although other states have so-called “deadly force” laws, backers said this makes Indiana only the third, after Florida and South Dakota, to spell out the right to use deadly force without first trying to back away from a threat. The National Rifle Association has lobbied across the country for what it calls “stand your ground” laws.

Veteran wins

An Iraq war veteran who lost both legs in the conflict narrowly won her bid to run for the House as a Democrat in an Illinois district held by Republicans for 32 years, returns showed yesterday.

Tammy Duckworth, 37, is among several Iraq veterans running for Congress this year in a challenge to President Bush’s Iraq policy and the traditional perception that Democrats are weaker on national security issues.

With 98 percent of the ballots counted, she squeezed out a win, holding a 1,080-vote lead over her closest opponent for the right to face Republican Peter Roskam, a state senator, for whom Vice President Dick Cheney made a campaign appearance.

She will be a long shot in November to take the seat in a heavily Republican suburban Chicago district being given up by Rep. Henry J. Hyde, who is retiring after 32 years in Congress.

Miss Duckworth, a former officer in the Illinois Army National Guard, was wounded in 2004 when a rocket-propelled grenade hit the helicopter she was piloting.

Voters in Tuesday’s primary also chose the state’s Republican treasurer to face first-term Gov. Rod R. Blagojevich, a Democrat, in November’s race for the governorship.

Judy Baar Topinka, the only Republican holding statewide office, beat four challengers to win a primary contest slowed by the introduction of new touch screen and scanned paper ballot voting systems.

Mr. Blagojevich, the state’s first Democratic governor in a quarter-century, had only token opposition in seeking the nomination for a second term.

Veteran quits race

North Carolina Democrat Tim Dunn, a lawyer and veteran of the Iraq war, announced Tuesday he was dropping out of the race for the U.S. House seat held by Republican Robin Hayes.

Mr. Dunn, whose fundraising has lagged behind his GOP opponent’s, said he was exiting because the campaign endangered his ability to meet his financial obligations to his family.

“It has come down to a choice between my family obligations and the campaign for Congress, and my family will always come first,” he said in a statement.

Still vying for the Democratic nomination are Larry Kissell, a social studies teacher, and Mark Ortiz, an unsuccessful candidate in 2004.

Chinese leader to visit

President Bush and Chinese President Hu Jintao will meet in Washington April 20 for talks aimed at resolving “outstanding differences,” the White House announced yesterday.

The two presidents last met in Beijing in November, when Mr. Hu rebuffed Mr. Bush’s calls to allow greater religious and political freedom in China but promised to show more flexibility on economic disputes between the two nations.

It will be Mr. Hu’s first visit to the White House since becoming China’s supreme leader, Agence France-Presse reports. A previous visit, set for September, was postponed indefinitely as Mr. Bush grappled with the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina.

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

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