- The Washington Times - Friday, April 27, 2007

Gore’s strength

The Democratic Party’s best hope for winning the White House is not in the race, at least so far.

A new Quinnipiac University poll of three swing states finds former Vice President Al Gore is the strongest Democrat when matched head-to-head with Sen. John McCain of Arizona, former New York City Mayor Rudolph W. Giuliani and former Sen. Fred Thompson of Tennessee.

Mr. Gore ties Mr. Giuliani in Pennsylvania and trails by smaller margins in Florida and Ohio than does either Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton of New York or Sen. Barack Obama of Illinois, the two top Democratic candidates. Mr. Gore also does better against Mr. McCain than the other two except in Ohio, where Mrs. Clinton runs slightly better against the Republican.

“That’s pretty impressive. Now, we have nine months to go until the primaries begin and 18 until the general, but what this shows is latent strength,” said Peter Brown, assistant director of the Quinnipiac University Polling Institute.

Mr. Gore has said he is “not planning” a campaign, but political operatives say he could join as late as October and still mount a serious effort.

But with favorable ratings slightly better than Mrs. Clinton’s and unfavorable ratings slightly lower than Mrs. Clinton’s, Democratic primary voters and Mr. Gore himself may be taking a second look.

Kerry’s weakness

Jeff Beatty, a former Army and CIA counterterrorism officer, said yesterday that he is forming an exploratory committee for the Republican nomination to take on Sen. John Kerry next year.

Mr. Kerry, the junior senator from Massachusetts, is looking vulnerable at home. A Suffolk University poll released last week found that 56 percent of the 400 likely Massachusetts voters surveyed wanted to give someone else a chance in office, including 39 percent of Democrats.

“This poll is showing us the early warning signs of a political storm for John Kerry,” said David Paleologos, director of the Suffolk University Political Research Center. “He may best be served by coming home to Massachusetts and taking care of business.”

Mr. Beatty is the president of TotalSecurity.US, and in his announcement lists one of his accomplishments as having predicted, three months in advance, that the Atlanta Olympics would be bombed.

Mr. Beatty last year challenged Democratic Rep. Bill Delahunt, garnering 29 percent of the vote in his losing effort. But Mr. Beatty notes that his 78,335 votes were the highest total for any Republican congressional challenger in Massachusetts.

In 2002, the last time Mr. Kerry stood for election, he won 80 percent of the vote. Republicans did not field a challenger, though the Libertarian Party did.

McCain vs. Murtha

Sen. John McCain, who officially announced his bid for the presidency on Wednesday, stopped by ABC’s “Good Morning America” to talk about his campaign and ended up defending himself about a joke, the network reports at abcnews.go.com.

The Arizona Republican said that people upset by his comments about improvised explosive devices (IEDs) to Jon Stewart on Tuesday night’s “Daily Show” should “lighten up.” After being grilled by Mr. Stewart, Mr. McCain jokingly told him that he had a present for him — an IED that he could place under his desk.

Rep. John P. Murtha, Pennsylvania Democrat, was furious and publicly assailed Mr. McCain on the House floor.

“Imagine a presidential candidate making a joke about IEDs when our kids are getting blown up,” he said.

In response, Mr. McCain said that he was going to use comedy during his campaign, just as he did during his military duty.

“I don’t know how to react to that kind of hysteria to a comedy show,” he told ABC’s Diane Sawyer. “All I’m going to say to Murtha and others. … Lighten up and get a life.”

Abe’s explanation

Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, in a visit to Washington, sought to explain to U.S. lawmakers yesterday a comment he made in March that seemed to minimize Japan’s role in forcing thousands of Asian women into sexual slavery during World War II.

Mr. Abe’s first U.S. trip as prime minister comes as lawmakers consider a nonbinding resolution that urges Japan to apologize formally for its role coercing women to work as so-called “comfort women” for the Japanese military.

House Minority Whip Roy Blunt, Missouri Republican, said that Mr. Abe “expressed regret that his comments were not as he intended for them to be and expressed great sympathy with people who had been placed in that kind of situation.” Mr. Abe met with the congressional leaders prior to a meeting with President Bush.

Apology or insult?

The highest-ranking black member of the Georgia legislature says that government apologies for slavery are insulting.

“Slavery was the most heinous crime that’s been committed in the annals of history,” state Senate Democratic Leader Robert Brown told the Associated Press in an interview yesterday. “To me, it’s demeaning to think that an apology would be an appropriate response for that.”

On Tuesday, Alabama became the latest state legislature to approve such an apology, joining Virginia, Maryland and North Carolina.

A similar measure failed to pass this year in Georgia, and Mr. Brown said yesterday that he would vote against such a resolution in the future.

“I’m not going to accept an apology for something that killed millions of people, that raped women and took babies from their mothers and then sold them like you would a piece of equipment,” Mr. Brown said. “My grandfathers would tan my hide.”

Archbishop vs. Crow

Calling Sheryl Crow “a high-profile proponent of the destruction of innocent lives,” the Roman Catholic archbishop of St. Louis resigned as head of a children’s medical charity that featured the singer for a benefit concert.

Archbishop Raymond Burke resigned as chairman of the Cardinal Glennon Children’s Foundation after its board of governors refused to pull the plug on Miss Crow’s concert tomorrow in St. Louis, Reuters news agency reports.

She is “well-known as an abortion activist” and proponent of stem-cell research, he said Wednesday, and her appearance is “an affront to the identity and mission of the medical center, dedicated as it is to the service of life and Christ’s healing mission.”

He added: “When, for economic gain, a Catholic institution associates itself with such a high-profile proponent of the destruction of innocent lives, members of the church and other people of good will have the right to be confirmed in their commitment to the gospel of life.”

A fact sheet distributed by the archdiocese said Miss Crow’s views amount to “giving scandal,” which it said the Catholic Catechism defines as “an attitude or behavior which leads another to evil.”

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

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