Tuesday, April 3, 2007

Drudge’s record

In a “flash” at DrudgeReport.com yesterday, Matt Drudge reported that March was his Internet site’s “top month in its 12-year history,” with the main page being downloaded more than 425 million times during the month.

Mr. Drudge, 40, who graduated from Montgomery County’s Northwood High School, began distributing celebrity gossip via e-mail while working at the gift shop of CBS Studios in Los Angeles, and transitioned to his Web site in 1996. He has since authored a book and now hosts a Sunday evening syndicated radio program heard locally on WMAL-630 AM.

Yesterday, he included a note to his online readers, who include editors and reporters at every major news organization in America: “Many thanks for your continued support. … The lovers and the haters. … and the ones that still find the Internet tops for news and information.”

Not ‘spooked’

Former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee said yesterday that he’s not daunted by having raised only a little more than $500,000 for his presidential exploratory committee in the first three months of the year.

“You don’t get spooked in the early steps of the race,” Mr. Huckabee said in an interview broadcast by Little Rock, Ark., radio station KARN. The Republican likened the race to a marathon — Mr. Huckabee has run in four of them — and said he is pacing himself for a long run.

Mr. Huckabee left office in January and formed an exploratory committee for the Republican presidential nomination. He had roughly $300,000 in cash on hand at the end of the reporting period, Huckabee campaign manager Chip Saltsman said.

Mr. Saltsman said Mr. Huckabee’s goal was to raise $500,000 in the first three months of the year.

“We hit the goal we had,” Mr. Huckabee said. “Our position is that it is better to finish strong than start strong.”

Mr. Huckabee conceded that he will need more money, the Associated Press reports.

“We’ll have to raise millions to be competitive,” Mr. Huckabee said.

Head to head

Casting himself as the candidate best positioned to end the Iraq war, Delaware Sen. Joseph R. Biden Jr. has launched a new Web site, www.headtohead08.com, to contrast his statements on the Iraq conflict to those of his opponents for the 2008 Democratic presidential nomination.

The Biden campaign scoured YouTube and assembled videos of each candidate speaking about the war, including Sens. Hillary Rodham Clinton, Barack Obama and Christopher J. Dodd, former Sen. John Edwards and Rep. Dennis J. Kucinich. The campaign said the videos it selected were those that best represented each lawmaker’s views on the war.

The Web site posts each clip next to a video showing Mr. Biden, the Senate Foreign Relations Committee chairman, delivering a detailed speech on the war from the Senate floor, the Associated Press reports.

“It is important for voters to start focusing on the distinctions between the candidates regarding how they would deal with the mess we inherit in Iraq,” Mr. Biden said in a statement from Iowa, where he was campaigning Monday.

“During my recent travels to Iowa and South Carolina, it is obvious to me that the American people are looking to answer the question, ‘What next?’ ” he said. “They know that every candidate wants to get us out of Iraq. What they don’t know is if we have a plan to do it without leaving a worse mess behind than we found.”

Mr. Biden voted in 2002 to authorize military action in Iraq but has become a leading critic of the war since then. He has advocated a plan to divide the country along ethnic lines, with a central government responsible for border security and allocation of oil resources.

No litmus tests

“The philosopher Diogenes is said to have wandered around ancient Greece holding a lantern, seeking an honest man,” Mike Reagan writes in U.S. News & World Report.

“My fellow Republicans, sans lanterns, are now wandering around the political landscape seeking the perfect Republican presidential candidate,” Mr. Reagan said.

“They are never going to find the perfect candidate, simply because he does not exist. Some Republicans insist that the only perfect candidate would be a clone of my dad, Ronald Reagan. Aside from the fact that there is no such thing, it’s important to recognize that even he often admitted he was anything but perfect.

“One of the criticisms about former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney focuses on his record concerning the abortion issue. We are told by the modern-day Diogenes clones that he can’t be trusted to fight abortion because he once, more or less, supported a woman’s right to butcher her baby.

“It may come as a surprise to these purists, but Ronald Reagan once supported abortion too. Yet nobody ever questioned his strong pro-life credentials after his conversion to conservatism. They accepted his sincerity. Why can’t they accept Mitt Romney’s?”

Mr. Reagan also cites former New York City Mayor Rudolph W. Giuliani as being “solidly conservative,” but rejected by some on the right because of his positions on abortion and gun control.

“This is madness, and if it does not stop, the GOP is going to lose the presidential election in 2008,” Mr. Reagan said.

On the menu

He ordered a slice of chocolate cream pie to go and ate a few bites of blueberry for the cameras, but there was one thing on the menu at the Peterborough Diner in New Hampshire that Sen. Barack Obama wouldn’t touch.

“We’ve got a sandwich called ‘The Hillary,’ ” owner Pat Healey told the Democratic presidential hopeful Monday afternoon.

“Is that true?” Mr. Obama said.

“It’s called the Hillary wrap,” Mr. Healey joked. “She’s got it all wrapped up, right?”

Mr. Obama didn’t answer, just smiled and started making his way through the tiny restaurant. He stopped to wipe a spot of frosting off a little girl’s nose and joked that he also is a messy eater, the Associated Press reports.

Medical marijuana

Nearly three decades after medical marijuana first was approved in New Mexico, Gov. Bill Richardson on Monday signed a law authorizing the state Department of Health to give the drug to some seriously ill patients.

The second-term governor is seeking the 2008 Democratic nomination, and Drug Policy Alliance New Mexico said he is the first presidential candidate to sign medicinal marijuana into law. Mr. Richardson said the new law provides “a humane option for New Mexicans living with cancer, HIV and other serious medical conditions.”

New Mexico became the 12th state to legalize the use of marijuana for medical reasons, the Associated Press reports.

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

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