- The Washington Times - Tuesday, November 14, 2006

Giuliani’s step

Former New York City Mayor Rudolph W. Giuliani has taken the first step in a 2008 presidential bid, Republican officials said yesterday.

The former mayor filed papers to create the Rudy Giuliani Presidential Exploratory Committee Inc., creating a panel that would allow him to raise money for a White House run and travel the country.

The four-page filing, obtained by the Associated Press, lists the purpose of the nonprofit corporation “to conduct federal ‘testing the waters’ activity under the Federal Election Campaign Act for Rudy Giuliani.”

Mr. Giuliani was widely praised for leading the city during and after the September 11 attacks. He has said for months that he would wait until after the 2006 elections to decide whether to embark on a White House bid.

Now that’s close

Democrat Joe Courtney‘s lead in Connecticut’s 2nd Congressional District dropped to 66 votes yesterday after officials discovered he was mistakenly given 100 extra votes over Republican Rep. Rob Simmons, an election official said.

“It was human error,” said Lebanon election moderator John Bendoraitis. “It was strictly misreading one number on one machine.”

The discovery significantly tightens one of the closest congressional races in the nation. Preliminary Election Day returns had Mr. Courtney winning by 167 votes out of nearly 250,000 ballots cast.

It was one of 10 races across the nation that remained unresolved in the days after Election Day, and the only one in which a Democratic challenger had the lead, the Associated Press reports.

Mr. Courtney claimed victory on Wednesday and was in Washington yesterday to attend orientation sessions. Mr. Simmons has not conceded the race.

More than 30 of the 65 towns in the district were recounting their votes yesterday. Others had already completed their recounts, and the rest must finish by the weekend.

Still relevant

“When Republicans won the House and Senate in 1994, President Clinton was badly shaken,” Fred Barnes writes in the Weekly Standard.

“At a White House press conference, a reporter suggested Clinton might no longer be ‘relevant’ as a leader. It took weeks for Clinton to recover his composure. It turned out, of course, that he was as relevant as ever as a national leader. Presidents always are,” Mr. Barnes said.

“If President Bush was shaken, he didn’t show it. He waited only hours after Democrats had captured Congress last week to assert himself. And he instantly changed the media story from an Election Day repudiation of his presidency to his removal of Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld. He followed that with a press conference at which he listed the issues where compromise might be reached with congressional Democrats. This was before he’d met with either Democratic leaders Nancy Pelosi or Harry Reid.

“Bush is a lame duck, but only technically (he won’t run again). He intends to be a very live duck in his final two years in the White House. When he talked to Henry Paulson, then the CEO of Goldman Sachs, last spring about becoming Treasury secretary, he promised to push hard for a serious agenda no matter what the outcome of the midterm election. The result was bad for Bush, but he plans to keep his promise.

“Is Bush suffering from delusions of grandeur? Not really. True, he’ll have to make concessions, probably painful ones, on legislative initiatives. And his prospects for getting conservative judicial nominees through the Senate are slim.

“But as we learned from the Gingrich years, you can’t govern from Capitol Hill. The president, even weakened as Bush is, remains the central figure in Washington.”

Bolton blockers

“So let’s see. Democrats retake the Senate and their first act of ‘bipartisanship’ is to declare that they’ll deny a confirmation vote to U.S. Ambassador to the U.N. John Bolton,” the Wall Street Journal wrote in an editorial.

“And now, say the arbiters of Washington manners, President Bush is supposed to show his willingness to compromise by withdrawing Mr. Bolton’s nomination,” the newspaper said.

“If Mr. Bush obliges, he’ll be taking a big step toward turning last week’s GOP defeat into a rout. Mr. Bolton has performed in exemplary fashion as a recess appointee these last two years, winning plaudits from everyone except those who admire Kofi Annan and Hugo Chavez. He has followed State Department orders and argued forcefully for U.S. policy.

“The opposition to Mr. Bolton is based on nothing save vindictiveness. Republican Lincoln Chafee, who would have lost his GOP primary without White House support and who finally did lose last week, now says he won’t vote for Mr. Bolton though he had once supported him. Mr. Chafee is a mystery wrapped in a muddle even to himself. Democrats Chris Dodd and Joe Biden are trying to show that any political appointee who refuses to bend to their wishes can’t be confirmed. They know other Democrats would vote to confirm Mr. Bolton if he made it to the Senate floor.

“Having had one recess appointment, Mr. Bolton can’t get another one and be paid. But he could retain his position and be paid if Mr. Bush names him to a non-confirmable post at State and then assigns him to the U.N. ambassador’s duties. Now, that’s a compromise.”

Loser in court

Kennedy cousin Michael Skakel lost a long-shot effort to win reversal of his murder conviction when the Supreme Court yesterday declined to take his case.

The justices refused, without comment, to review Skakel’s conviction in the beating death of Martha Moxley, his neighbor in Greenwich, Conn., 31 years ago when the two were teenagers. Skakel, a nephew of Ethel Kennedy, was convicted in 2002.

Now 46, Skakel is serving 20 years to life in prison.

“We’re very pleased,” said prosecutor Jonathan Benedict. “This has been researched for years. This is not unexpected.”

Skakel’s attorney, former Solicitor General Theodore Olson, had argued that the deadline for prosecuting Skakel passed 19 years before he was arrested in January 2000, the Associated Press reports.

At the time of Miss Moxley’s killing, Connecticut had a five-year statute of limitations on murder cases that did not involve the death penalty. One year later, in 1976, the legislature removed the five-year deadline in such cases.

Another candidate

“He’s the popular New Mexico governor who has done stints in Congress, the United Nations, and the Energy Department, so it’s about time Bill Richardson had a Web site promoting him for president,” Paul Bedard writes in the Washington Whispers column of U.S. News & World Report.

“Well, americaforrichardson.org is up and running, and its webmaster, former Richardson aide Jeff Gulko, says the goal is to get 2008’s lone Hispanic hopeful elected president. It might be working. Democrat Richardson tells us he’s mulling over a January announcement and says, ‘I’ve got something to offer.’ ”

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

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