- The Washington Times - Tuesday, May 2, 2006

Day of decision

Voters in Ohio, a bellwether state that decided the 2004 presidential election, head to the polls today for a primary expected to speak to the possibility of a national political sea change in November.

North Carolina and Indiana also have primaries today, including for governors, members of Congress — and an election for district attorney in Durham County, N.C., where voters will decide whether to replace the prosecutor in the Duke University lacrosse case.

But it is in Ohio, where the Republican Party has been beset by scandal, that politicians are looking for signs of voter dissatisfaction, the Associated Press reports. The race for the Republican nomination for Ohio governor has been painted as party outsider vs. party insider: outsider J.Kenneth Blackwell, the secretary of state, who served in the Reagan administration and carries a Bible to events, against insider Attorney General Jim Petro.

Mr. Blackwell is the first black to run for governor in Ohio and is among a handful of Republican gubernatorial and senatorial candidates poised to draw from the Democratic Party’s typically loyal black base.

The winner of the Blackwell-Petro primary is likely to face Democratic U.S. Rep. Ted Strickland in November.

Republicans have targeted the House seat Mr. Strickland leaves open as one of their best shots nationally to pick up a Democratic congressional seat. They have been helped by the fact that the Democrats’ leading candidate must run as a write-in owing to a filing mistake. National Democrats and Republicans have spent roughly $1 million in the race, more than they have for any other primary in the past decade.

Kerrey for Kerry

In an e-mail solicitation sent yesterday, former Sen. Bob Kerrey, Nebraska Democrat, appeals for contributions to the presidential campaign of Sen. John Kerry, Massachusetts Democrat.

In his e-mail, Mr. Kerrey of Nebraska praises Mr. Kerry of Massachusetts for his “profound courage” in condemning the Vietnam War during testimony to the Senate Foreign Relations Committee in 1971.

Said Mr. Kerrey of Mr. Kerry: “He acted because he believed it was right to dissent from a war he believed was wrong — and he was willing to endure the attacks of the Nixon Administration, which hated John for saying what he believed.”

During that 1971 testimony, Mr. Kerry said his fellow GIs in Vietnam had “personally raped, cut off ears, cut off heads … randomly shot at civilians, razed villages in fashion reminiscent of Genghis Khan,” among much else.

Appealing for contributions to the 2004 presidential loser, the ex-senator from Nebraska calls attention to an April 22 speech Mr. Kerry of Massachusetts gave at Boston’s Faneuil Hall: “John made it clear that those who disagree with President Bush’s course in Iraq have a right and an obligation to challenge a president who they believe is wrong, a policy they believe is wrong, and a war in Iraq they believe weakens our nation.”

In that speech — posted online at www.johnkerry.com — Mr. Kerry accuses the Bush administration of squandering the lives of U.S. troops in Iraq through “basic negligence and incompetence … stubbornness and pride.”

Visitor logs

The Secret Service has agreed to turn over White House visitor logs that will show how often convicted lobbyist Jack Abramoff met with Bush administration officials — and with whom he met.

U.S. District Judge John Garrett Penn last Tuesday approved an agreement between the Secret Service and Judicial Watch, a public-interest group, that requires the agency to produce records of Abramoff’s visits from Jan. 1, 2001, to the present.

Judicial Watch filed suit in February after the Secret Service failed to respond to its request under the federal Freedom of Information Act.

Abramoff pleaded guilty in January in Washington to federal charges stemming from an investigation into his lobbying activities. He also pleaded guilty to fraud charges in Miami concerning a multimillion-dollar purchase of SunCruz Casinos gambling fleet in 2000.

Administration officials have refused to say how many times Abramoff, who raised at least $100,000 for President Bush’s re-election, has been to the White House. Mr. Bush has said he doesn’t know Abramoff.

The visitor logs are to be delivered to Judicial Watch by May 10, the Associated Press reports.

Mr. Bush’s spokesman has said Abramoff attended “a few staff-level meetings” at the White House, as well as Hanukkah receptions in 2001 and 2002.

Liberal historians

George W. Bush may be the worst president ever — at least, that’s what the newest issue of Rolling Stone says,” Gerard Alexander writes at National Review Online (www.nationalreview.com).

“The cover story is by Sean Wilentz, a prominent historian, who writes that when he and his Princeton colleagues rate our chief executives, Bush is a leading candidate for the bottom of the pile. And it’s not just them, but the whole profession. ‘Many historians are now wondering whether Bush, in fact, will be remembered as the very worst president in all of American history.’”

“Wilentz says we should take very seriously the emerging consensus among professional historians, because it was arrived at through a scrupulous and dispassionate consideration of the facts. Possible objections are refuted. For example, we can be sure that their judgment wasn’t affected by the left-of-center tilt of most historians (which he acknowledges). Why? Because they’re more critical of Bush than of other Republicans like Ronald Reagan or even Richard Nixon.

“In fact, Wilentz’s argument shows how bias runs through these evaluations. It tells us less about Bush than it does about the sad state of debate among many academics — and makes the case for more intellectual diversity on America’s campuses,” said Mr. Alexander, a professor of politics at the University of Virginia and a visiting scholar at the American Enterprise Institute.

Giuliani’s travels

Former New York Mayor Rudolph W. Giuliani yesterday visited Iowa, the state that traditionally kicks off the race for the White House.

Mr. Giuliani said yesterday he was still considering a 2008 presidential run but was in no rush to decide. He was in Des Moines to raise money for Republicans and to make a paid appearance at a motivational seminar, and said he was gathering information on a potential presidential bid, Reuters news agency reports.

“It’s something that I’m thinking about,” Mr. Giuliani said. “It’s something I haven’t ruled out, and it’s something that really depends on where things are approximately a year from now.”

Mr. Giuliani said the only way to find out if he could earn conservative support for a White House bid was to run.

“No one ever knows who or what the electorate wants until you offer yourself as a candidate,” he said.

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

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