- The Washington Times - Tuesday, February 20, 2007

Hillary’s denial

Democratic presidential candidate Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton yesterday denied that her campaign traded money for an endorsement from one of South Carolina’s most influential black politicians.

In an interview with the Associated Press, Mrs. Clinton responded to questions about the consulting contract her campaign negotiated with state Sen. Darrell Jackson, who last week endorsed her candidacy, rather than those of her chief rivals, former Sen. John Edwards of North Carolina or Sen. Barack Obama of Illinois.

“Senator Jackson was someone who was involved in my husband’s campaigns. He was someone we turned to for political advice and counsel, and I’m proud to have him on my team,” Mrs. Clinton said.

Soon after the endorsement, Mr. Jackson acknowledged that his media-consulting firm had negotiated a $10,000-per-month contract with Mrs. Clinton’s campaign. Mr. Jackson has said he turned down more lucrative contracts from other candidates.

Although he backed Mr. Edwards in the 2004 Democratic presidential primary, Mr. Jackson said he now supports Mrs. Clinton because he thinks she has the best shot at winning the White House.

The New York senator, on her first trip to South Carolina since announcing her White House bid, also said the Confederate flag should be removed from the Statehouse grounds.

Ripping Rumsfeld

Republican presidential candidate Sen. John McCain said yesterday the war in Iraq has been mismanaged for years and former Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld will be remembered as one of the worst in history.

“We are paying a very heavy price for the mismanagement — that’s the kindest word I can give you — of Donald Rumsfeld, of this war,” the Arizona senator told an overflow crowd of more than 800 at Blufton, S.C., a retirement community near Hilton Head Island. “The price is very, very heavy, and I regret it enormously.”

Mr. McCain, the ranking Republican on the Senate Armed Services Committee, complained that Mr. Rumsfeld never put enough troops on the ground to succeed in Iraq. “I think that Donald Rumsfeld will go down in history as one of the worst secretaries of defense in history,” he said.

The comments were in sharp contrast to Mr. McCain’s statement after Mr. Rumsfeld resigned in November, the Associated Press reports, when the Arizona senator said the former secretary “deserves Americans’ respect and gratitude for his many years of public service.”

One more

“The White House is still holding out hope that it will have a chance to name a third justice to the Supreme Court and cement its conservative tilt for generations to come,” Paul Bedard writes in the Washington Whispers column of U.S. News & World Report.

” ‘We need one more on the Supreme Court,’ says a Bushie who was instrumental in getting Chief JusticeJohn G. Roberts Jr. and Justice Samuel A. Alito Jr. aboard. But with Democrats now running the Senate, pushing another conservative through might be hard. ‘That will be the battle royal,’ says the insider.

“Meantime, the White House is seeking to add 17 more U.S. Circuit Court judges before leaving town in 2009. ‘This is our biggest legacy,’ says the official. And rightly so: Almost 30 percent of federal judges are Bush picks, he says.”

‘First step’

Calling last week’s House approval of a nonbinding resolution to condemn President Bush’s Iraq policy a “good first step,” the liberal group MoveOn.org is urging its members to lobby Congress against the president’s “surge” of additional troops.

“Congress is in recess this week, and we need to keep the pressure on. This Thursday, MoveOn members are showing up at hundreds of local congressional offices to deliver letters asking Congress to stop the escalation,” the online group said in an e-mail to its members yesterday.

“The president is out of control, and Congress has to rein him in. President Bush’s plan to deal with the mess in Iraq is to escalate the military conflict. He’s not just escalating war in Iraq, he’s provoking an escalation with Iran — a confrontation that could inflame the entire Middle East. This is a situation of the most serious proportions, and we have to make sure Congress stops him,” said the e-mail sent by Nita Chaudhary, spokeswoman for MoveOn’s political action committee.

By the numbers

New York Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton outdistances her closest contender for the Democratic nomination for president,Illinois Sen. Barack Obama, by more than 2-to-1 among Democrats and Democratic-leaning independents, according to a Marist Poll done for WNBC-TV in New York.

Mrs. Clinton received 37 percent.

Mr. Obama, for his part, has emerged for the first time in sole possession of second place, with 17 percent. He is followed by former Vice President Al Gore and former Sen. John Edwards of North Carolina, who are tied for third with 11 percent.

Former New York City MayorRudolph W. Giuliani tops the field of Republican presidential contenders, leading Arizona Sen. John McCain, 28 percent to 21 percent. Former House Speaker Newt Gingrich polled 11 percent, and former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney had 10 percent. Nine other potential contenders were in the low single digits.

Mr. Giuliani, when matched against Mrs. Clinton, holds a narrow lead, 47 percent to 45 percent. Mr. McCain and Mrs. Clinton were tied at 46 percent.

Protest at NBC

“In protest of NBC’s lack of action after NBC News military analyst William Arkin used his WashingtonPost.com blog to describe U.S. soldiers as ‘mercenaries’ enjoying ‘obscene amenities’ for ungratefully daring to criticize Americans for not supporting the war effort, retired Col. Ken Allard last week resigned his position as a military analyst for NBC News,” the Media Research Center’s Brent Baker writes at www.mrc.org.

“In a February 16 op-ed for the San Antonio Express-News, ‘NBC sinks too low for this talking head,’ Allard, an ‘executive-in-residence’ at the University of Texas at San Antonio, regretted that ‘sometimes the only way to show where you really stand is to vote with your feet. And so with great reluctance and best wishes to my former colleagues, with this column I am severing my 10-year relationship with NBC News.’ ”

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

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