- The Washington Times - Thursday, November 16, 2006

Thompson, too

Former Secretary and Wisconsin Gov. Tommy G. Thompson says he will test the waters for the Republican presidential nomination.

Mr. Thompson says that health care will be one of the top three issues in the next presidential election and that his background as head of the Health and Human Services Department makes him a natural fit. The other issues, he says, will be energy independence and the war in Iraq.

“The times are right for my ideas,” Mr. Thompson told the Associated Press on Wednesday, shortly before he met with a group of about 100 Iowa health professionals in Des Moines.

More than 90 percent of spending on health care — about 16 percent of the gross national product — is for treating disease, while only about 8 percent is spent on prevention, Mr. Thompson said.

“To me that’s just backwards,” he said. “I want to try and transpose that.”

On his visits to Iowa, where precinct caucuses traditionally launch the presidential nominating season, Mr. Thompson has felt encouraged by the initial reaction to a presidential run. He said he’ll move relatively quickly to formalize his plans by establishing an exploratory committee after Jan. 1.

Another customer

Since losing the vice presidency in 2004, former Sen. John Edwards, North Carolina Democrat, has been in somewhat of a war with mega-retailer Wal-Mart. He has spoken at union rallies criticizing the popular chain and talked about it during his unofficial 2008 presidential campaign.

In the right crowd, Mr. Edwards likes to tell how his 6-year-old son once learned that someone had bought something at Wal-Mart and chided the person for the purchase because, he said, Wal-Mart doesn’t treat its workers fairly. “If my 6-year-old son can understand, then every American can understand,” Mr. Edwards says.

However, according to Wal-Mart, a staffer for Mr. Edwards contacted a Wal-Mart electronics manager in his hometown of Raleigh, N.C., this week about purchasing a Sony PlayStation 3 on behalf of Mr. Edwards.

Mr. Edwards disputes that account.

“Elizabeth and I don’t shop at Wal-Mart. We haven’t been in a Wal-Mart in years. We instructed no one to contact Wal-Mart on our behalf,” he said.

Bush’s choices

“If President Bush decides to govern as President Reagan did, he will work to unify the Blue Dog Democrats with the Republicans to win a handful of very large victories while accepting a constant barrage of unhappiness from the liberal leadership. That is what conservative bipartisanship is like,” Newt Gingrich writes in the Wall Street Journal.

“If on the other hand, President Bush decides on an establishment strategy of cooperating with the liberal leadership, he will guarantee splitting his own party and will see his legacy drift further and further to the left as the Pelosi-Reid wing of their party demands more and more concessions,” the former House speaker said.

“This choice of which strategy to follow domestically has an enormous implication for national security. A liberal coalition will focus narrowly on Iraq and seek to avoid thinking about the scale of threat we face internationally. A conservative bipartisan coalition will look first to the larger threat to American security and will then seek to find solutions in Iraq to strengthen American security.”

Mr. Gingrich added: “Thus the decision about which bipartisanship to pursue with regard to a legislative agenda and the Iraq war becomes for the Bush administration a decision about how safe and how prosperous America will be under divided government.”

‘Friendly’ advice

In a recent editorial, the New York Times offered advice to that state’s Republican Party: “A pragmatist like Mayor Michael Bloomberg could serve as the vanguard of a new New York Republican Party.”

“Asking Republicans to be more like Mayor Bloomberg is akin to asking Republicans to be more like Democrats,” Evan Coyne Maloney, writes at his Web site, www.brain-terminal.com.

“But what’s laughable is that the editors of a paper that hasn’t endorsed a single Republican presidential nominee in over 50 years would decide, out of the kindness of their hearts, to try and help Republicans with their unsolicited advice. …

“Check the voter database maintained by the New York City Board of Elections. It’s a matter of public record …

Arthur Sulzberger, Publisher: Democrat

“Bill Keller, Executive Editor: Democrat

Gail Collins, Editor: Democrat …

Frank Rich, Editorial Columnist: Democrat

Bob Herbert, Editorial Columnist: Democrat …

“And if you’re a Republican official in New York State trying to figure out whether to heed the advice of the Times, perhaps my friend Marcus put it best: ‘It’s like George Steinbrenner giving pointers to the Boston Red Sox.’ ”

Short-timers

Aides to former Rep.Tom DeLay reportedly walked out of the office and resigned this week after being treated poorly by the woman who is temporarily filling his vacant seat, Shelley Sekula-Gibbs.

Roll Call’s Heard on the Hill column reported Wednesday that the congresswoman, who was recently sworn in and will serve only until early January, showed up at Mr. DeLay’s old office late last week and was mean to the staff, then was displeased early this week that neither the president nor vice president showed up at her new-member open house to welcome her. The staff walked out en masse on Tuesday, Roll Call said.

Miss Sekula-Gibbs is serving only temporarily, after winning a special election. Democrat Nick Lampson won the general election and takes office in January.

One Republican aide said the chatter was that when the short-term congresswoman showed up late last week, she made unrealistic demands, such as telling the staff about legislation she wanted them to work on and possibly having them work on Veterans Day.

According to a Texas station, KHOU, the congresswoman said that all of this ruckus was nonsense, but that she was planning to fire the staff members anyway.

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


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