One knows presidential campaigning is shifting into a higher gear when Washington’s grooming experts start offering the top candidates image-makeover advice.
Not that they need any.
Who will forget in 2004, when Democratic presidential nominee Sen. John Kerry of Massachusetts resorted to Botox shots? Meanwhile, his running mate, former Sen. John Edwards of North Carolina, was criticized for being “way too interested” in his hair.
Nevertheless, Washington-based Grooming Lounge owners Mike Gilman and Pirooz Sarshar say voters historically choose the better-groomed candidate, particularly after the “perceived weaknesses” of their opponents “are played out in the media.”
Without further ado, here’s the pair’s advice for a few of 2008’s contenders:
Sen. John McCain: At age 72, the Arizona Republican needs to play up his youthful spirit by growing a goatee, skipping the tie occasionally, and wearing his top shirt button undone.
Sen. Barack Obama: The youngest candidate at age 42, the Illinois Democrat has the opposite problem from the aging Mr. McCain, and needs to exude wisdom beyond his years. Wear glasses full time, senator, and let some gray hair show through.
Rudolph W. Giuliani: The Republican former New York mayor should grow a beard and don sweaters for an enhanced “father-figure” imagery, which he lacks on all fronts.
Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton: Instead of changing her looks, the New York Democrat needs former President Clinton to look more the “First Husband.” Standing six inches above his wife, “with a full head of sometimes unruly white hair, dressed in a power suit with a bold tie, Bill often steals attention away from his wife.” Cut the hair and wear neutral-colored clothes.
And what delectable menu items were chosen by first lady Laura Bush for Easter dinner at the Texas ranch?
Texas grapefruit, avocado, and mozzarella salad; fire-glazed ham; green-chili cheese grits souffle; roasted orange molasses sweet potatoes; roasted asparagus; Brazos Valley cheeses; fresh yeast rolls; and coconut cake with Blue Bell ice cream. (First scooped in 1911, Blue Bell is a Lone Star State favorite, headquartered at the “Little Creamery” in Brenham.)
A move is afoot for the Virginia Republican Party or some other prominent Republican organization to buy the otherwise ordinary Alexandria house where former President Gerald R. Ford lived from 1955 to 1974, including for 10 days after he became the nation’s 38th president until he moved into the White House.
“The Ford house could be modeled after the Reagan Ranch” and be an ideal “draw” to host Republican fundraisers, says Alexandria Republican Party activist LaDonna Hale Curzon, who attended journalism school with the late president’s daughter, Susan Ford.
Mrs. Curzon says she has been in contact with at least two notable Republicans about the purchase, and also the Gerald R. Ford Foundation and the Gerald R. Ford Library and Museum.
“I would hate to see this piece of history land in the wrong hands,” she says.
A National Historic Landmark, the four-bedroom, rambler-style house, complete with a pink-tiled bathroom and located at 514 Crown View Drive, is bargain-priced at under $1 million. There’s even a pool out back where Mr. Ford swam his laps.
Duty to heal
About 100 people gathered in Statuary Hall of the U.S. Capitol on Saturday to commemorate the 200th birthday of Confederate Gen. Robert E. Lee.
“It is normally held in January near Lee’s actual birth date; however, Speaker of the House [Nancy] Pelosi was unable to grant the permission in time for the planned January 20 date, and the ceremony was postponed to April,” explains Martha M. Boltz, of the District of Columbia Division of the United Daughters of the Confederacy, which has sponsored the annual observance since 1910.
“It is part of a yearlong celebration of the 200th anniversary of his birth,” she says. This year’s speaker was historian James I. Robertson Jr., who outlined the general’s personal character traits, as well as his military skills.
“Lee’s name is familiar to anyone who studies heroes,” he said. “Duty was his leader, and healing the wounds of a terrible war was his final duty. We should give thanks for the person of Robert E. Lee for all time, as an example of sterling character and devotion to duty.”
Former Reagan White House staffer Bill Keyes will be talking tomorrow about his efforts to promote the conservative philosophy among black college students.
Mr. Keyes is founder of the Institute for Responsible Citizenship, a program that brings “the best and brightest black male college students” to Washington for “intense instruction about America’s founding and about free-market economics,” explains Jay Parker, president of the Lincoln Institute for Research and Education.
Mr. Keyes will be guest speaker at the Lincoln Institute’s breakfast forum tomorrow from 7:30 to 9 a.m. at the University Club, 1135 16th St. NW.
“The stories [Mr. Keyes] tells about these kids that have participated in his program — many of whom are not conservatives when they start the program — are amazing,” Mr. Parker says.
John McCaslin, whose column is nationally syndicated, can be reached at 202/636-3284 or jmccaslin @washingtontimes.com.