- The Washington Times - Thursday, February 15, 2007

Turf battle in Romney’s backyard

A duel over endorsements erupted today when Republican presidential hopeful Rudolph W. Giuliani claimed key supporters on the Massachusetts home turf of his primary rival, Mitt Romney.

Mr. Giuliani announced that his exploratory committee in Massachusetts will be led by a host of Republican state senators and the former head of the Republican State Committee.

Not to be outdone, Mr. Romney, the state’s former governor, announced that he had the backing of most elected Republicans in the decidedly Democratic state.

Mr. Romney tallied among his supporters 27 currently elected officials in Massachusetts, including two of the five Republican state senators, 18 of the 19 Republican state representatives, one of the two Republican mayors, three of the four Republican sheriffs and all three Republican district attorneys.

“I am proud to have the support of so many Republican leaders in Massachusetts,” Mr. Romney said. “For four years, we worked together to transform and innovate state government. I look forward to working with them again as we confront a new generation of challenges and build a new American dream.”

The Giuliani exploratory committee noted the former New York City mayor had the support of the majority of Massachusetts’ Republican state senators and the former senate minority leader, who is now Hampden County Clerk of Courts.

“It’s an honor to have such valued Republican leaders in Massachusetts supporting Mayor Giuliani,” said Giuliani spokeswoman Katie Levinson.

— S.A. Miller, Capitol Hill correspondent, The Washington Times

Surge numbers

Gen. Peter J. Schoomaker, the Army’s chief of staff, told the Senate armed services committee this morning that the “surge” of troops into Iraq will actually be about 27,500 soldiers.

President Bush announced in January that he was sending 21,500 more troops to Iraq, and all debate about the “surge” has been over that number.

But Gen. Schoomaker said that there “is probably a factor of another 5,000 or 6,000” soldiers included in the surge.

About 2,500 “embedded trainers,” who will train Iraqi soldiers, will be part of the surge. And then there are a few thousand U.S. Army support troops needed as well.

— Jon Ward, Capitol Hill correspondent, The Washington Times

Aid and comfort?

Republicans will send a group of war veterans to the House floor today to argue that the anti-Iraq war resolution being debated is encouraging America’s enemies abroad.

On Tuesday, Rep. Sam Johnson, Texas Republican, who will lead the group of vets, gave a preview of what his speech will be about.

Mr. Johnson, 76, was a prisoner of war in Vietnam for almost seven years. He spoke on Tuesday of his Viet Cong captors playing recordings of war protesters back home.

“Our captors would blare horrible recordings over the loud speaker of Americans protesting back home, tales of Americans spitting on Vietnam veterans when they came home, and worse.

“I promised myself many things I would do when I returned home safely to my family - and one was that I would fight to ensure America never lets down our troops in harms way again.

“We did it before in Vietnam - we had that war won - yet Congress pulled the funding and the troops were forced out. Insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results … We must support our troops. We must stand up for them and for America.”

— Jon Ward, Capitol Hill correspondent, The Washington Times

Murtha in the morning

Rep. John Murtha is set this morning to announce his strategy for limiting the Bush administration’s use of war funds, through an interview to be aired on an obscure anti-war website.

At 11 a.m., an interview with Mr. Murtha, Pennsylvania Democrat, will be aired at MoveCongress.org. The interview was conducted by former Rep. Tom Andrews, Maine Democrat, who started the anti-war Web site.

Mr. Murtha, chairman of the Appropriations defense subcommittee, is exploring ways to restrict the use of funds allocated for troop increases. One measure would require combat training certification for all troops; another would require adequate equipment.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, California Democrat, and Majority Leader Steny H. Hoyer, Maryland Democrat, are supporting Mr. Murtha’s approach instead of a drive by some hardcore anti-war Democrats who want to cut off all funds for the war immediately.

“Mr. Hoyer has said that the conditions on funding outlined by Mr. Murtha are ones that he believes most Americans would agree with - that troops should not go into battle without proper training and equipment,” Hoyer spokeswoman Stacey Bernards said yesterday.

Republicans, meanwhile, yesterday sent out their own video over the Web, a collection of nine House Democrats calling for “de-funding” the war entirely.

And anti-war activist Kevin Zeese, who ran an unsuccessful but serious campaign for the U.S. Senate in Maryland last year as a Green party candidate, will this morning stage a sit-in outside Sen. Barbara Mikulski’s office. Mr. Zeese will be protesting Miss Mikulski’s votes to fund the war, even though she voted in 2002 against the war.

— Jon Ward, Capitol Hill correspondent, The Washington Times



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