- The Washington Times - Thursday, March 9, 2006

Romney’s task

“The field of candidates vying to succeed Gov. Mitt Romney in Massachusetts grew by one last week. For beleaguered Bay State Republicans, that may be one too many,” W. James Antle III writes at National Review Online (www.nationalreview.com).

“Convenience-store magnate Christy Mihos bolted the party to run as an independent, increasing the Democrats’ chances of retaking the governorship. The reaction from a local blogger to Mihos’ announcement: ‘Welcome back, Dukakis.’

“Mihos isn’t polished, has never before held elective office, and is the kind of candidate who gives his advisers fits. Five members of his campaign team quit just days before he officially jumped into the race.

“But Mihos does have the money to finance his campaign himself, and his fiscal conservatism could win over tax-averse independents who have voted Republican in the last four gubernatorial elections. That’s a bloc this year’s GOP candidate, Lt. Gov. Kerry Healey, needs to win handily in order to have a shot in November,” said Mr. Antle, who is a senior writer for the American Conservative.

“Since Romney isn’t running for re-election, he might be tempted to ignore the race and head for greener pastures (say, Iowa). But that would be a political mistake. … Healey is his number-two and chosen successor. Her defeat would be interpreted as a repudiation of the Romney administration.”

Hillary’s strategy

“If you are a reporter, getting into a Hillary Clinton fund-raiser in Los Angeles — or almost anywhere else, for that matter — is no easy trick,” Newsweek’s Howard Fineman writes at www.msnbc.msn.com.

“I managed to do it a few years ago in Bel Air when a friend took me along as her personal guest to a carefully guarded cocktail party at the home of movie executive Alan Horn. There were three layers you had to pass through, from the usual ticket-takers to some scowling security guys. I figured that, in the days not long after 9/11, the junior senator from New York wanted to keep her toughly worded anti-Bush rhetoric (the kind that excites Democratic hearts and opens their wallets) safely behind the closed, hand-rubbed doors.

“Three years later, the veil is slowly beginning to drop. The political risk for banging away at George W. Bush is gone. And the senator’s strategy for locking up the Democratic presidential nomination certainly is no secret: raise so much money, and build such a state-of-the-art machine, that competitors will fold their tents before the 2008 battle begins. It’s an ironic but exact copy of what Bush did in 2000.”

Country critics

Country-music power couple Faith Hill and Tim McGraw are blasting President Bush’s response to Hurricane Katrina and say poor black and white people are dying because of politics.

“To me, there’s a lot of politics being played and a lot of people trying to put people in bad positions in order to further their agendas,” said Mr. McGraw, a native of Delhi, La.

“When you have people dying because they’re poor and black or poor and white, or because of whatever they are — if that’s a number on a political scale — then that is the most wrong thing. That erases everything that’s great about our country,” Mr. McGraw said.

Mrs. Hill, a native of Jackson, Miss., called the cleanup efforts in Louisiana and Mississippi “humiliating.”

“I fear for our country. … It’s just screwed up,” she said.

ABC Radio News reported that the pair were nearly in tears when they made the remarks Wednesday in Nashville, Tenn., while promoting their new tour.

Mr. McGraw, who says he is a Democrat and has hinted at running for the Senate or for governor of Tennessee, singled out Mr. Bush, reports Audrey Hudson of The Washington Times.

“There’s no reason why someone can’t go down there who’s supposed to be the leader of the free world … and say, ‘I’m giving you a job to do and I’m not leaving here until it’s done. And you’re held accountable, and you’re held accountable, and you’re held accountable,’ ” he said.

Brown fracas

Authorities accuse Mayor Jerry Brown of Oakland, Calif., of making racist comments and breaking a woman’s cellular phone while touring problem nightclubs with police, the Associated Press reports.

Latrenia Delonge and Ayesha Wilson filed a complaint with Oakland police accusing Mr. Brown of damaging Miss Wilson’s cell phone during an argument outside the 17th Nightclub downtown.

The claims are “absolutely not true,” said a spokesman for Mr. Brown, a former California governor and Democrat presidential-primary candidate who is running for state attorney general. The district attorney’s office is investigating, prosecutor Tom Orloff said.

Guess who?

“Top aides to President Clinton were doing a double take yesterday when former President George H.W. Bush popped into Bubba’s Harlem offices for a meet and greet,” Paul Bedard reports in the online edition of Washington Whispers at www.usnews.com.

” ‘I looked up and thought, man, that guy really looks like President Bush. And it was!’ said a Clinton aide.

“Seems that Bush had no agenda; Clinton wasn’t even there. He was speaking in Canada.

” ‘Forty-one just wanted to come by and say hello,’ says Clinton spokesman Jay Carson. ‘He was really great and our staff really appreciated it,’ he added of the 41st president.”

Kennedy award

Rep. John P. Murtha, a Vietnam veteran who has denounced the war in Iraq, was named a recipient of the John F. Kennedy Profile in Courage Award yesterday.

Alberto Mora, a former Navy general counsel who warned Pentagon officials that U.S. policies dealing with terror detainees could invite abuse, also will receive the award from the John Fitzgerald Kennedy Library Foundation, the Associated Press reports.

Mr. Murtha, a Pennsylvania Democrat, was recognized “for the difficult and courageous decision of conscience he made in November 2005, when he reversed his support for the Iraq war and called for the withdrawal of U.S. troops from the conflict,” said the foundation, which, like the national press, ignored the fact that Mr. Murtha had opposed the war earlier.

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

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