- The Washington Times - Monday, February 26, 2007

Rival speakers

Vying for the support of a key Democratic constituency, presidential hopefuls Hillary Rodham Clinton and Barack Obama have signed on to speak at an annual civil rights commemoration in Selma, Ala., on Sunday at the same time and just a few doors down from each other.

State Democratic leaders and event organizers said they couldn’t remember a time when two leading presidential candidates spoke at the Bridge Crossing Jubilee, held annually in honor of the 1965 Selma-to-Montgomery voting rights march.

“It’s a first,” said Tarana Burke, a spokeswoman for Selma’s National Voting Rights Museum and Institute, which sponsors the event. “Both of them are directly affected by the voting rights movement, and we’re glad they appreciate that enough to come and help us commemorate.”

Mrs. Clinton, of New York, is scheduled to headline the 10 a.m. service at First Baptist Church and to represent her husband, former President Bill Clinton, at his induction into the museum’s hall of fame.

Mr. Obama, of Illinois, is slated to speak at a “Unity Breakfast” and deliver the event’s keynote address at the 10 a.m. service at Brown Chapel A.M.E. Church.

Both churches were sites where organizers and marchers met in the historic protests that helped lead to greater ballot access across the South for blacks, the Associated Press reports.

Lieberman’s lecture

“Two months into the 110th Congress, Washington has never been more bitterly divided over our mission in Iraq,” Sen. Joe Lieberman, an independent Democrat from Connecticut, writes in the Wall Street Journal.

“The Senate and House of Representatives are bracing for parliamentary trench warfare — trapped in an escalating dynamic of division and confrontation that will neither resolve the tough challenges we face in Iraq nor strengthen our nation against its terrorist enemies around the world,” Mr. Lieberman said.

“What is remarkable about this state of affairs in Washington is just how removed it is from what is actually happening in Iraq. There, the battle of Baghdad is now under way. A new commander, Gen. David Petraeus, has taken command, having been confirmed by the Senate, 81-0, just a few weeks ago. And a new strategy is being put into action, with thousands of additional American soldiers streaming into the Iraqi capital.

“Congress thus faces a choice in the weeks and months ahead. Will we allow our actions to be driven by the changing conditions on the ground in Iraq — or by the unchanging political and ideological positions long ago staked out in Washington? What ultimately matters more to us: the real fight over there, or the political fight over here?”

Off the hook

The House ethics committee has determined that a trip to South Korea that two Republican congressmen cut short did not violate House travel rules.

Reps. F. James Sensenbrenner Jr. of Wisconsin and Phil English of Pennsylvania returned home early from the trip last year after learning that the Korea Foundation was a sponsor. Five House Democrats on the trip stayed another day.

Upon their return, Mr. Sensenbrenner and Mr. English notified the committee “of a possible violation of the rules,” saying that the panel had previously declared that the Korea Foundation was not a suitable source of funding because its budget is approved by the South Korean government.

In a recent letter to Mr. Sensenbrenner, the ethics committee’s chairman, Rep. Stephanie Tubbs Jones, Ohio Democrat, and ranking member Doc Hastings, Washington Republican, wrote that the trip did not violate House travel rules because the Korea Foundation funding was limited to program staff and did not cover the expenses of the lawmakers, the Associated Press reports.

Those expenses were paid for by the Japan-U.S. Friendship Commission, the letter said. The commission pays for the U.S.-Japan Legislative Exchange Program, which is administered through George Washington University and is designed to allow members of Congress to meet their counterparts in Japan or South Korea. Because more lawmakers attended last year than expected, the university sought additional funding from the Korea Foundation for staff travel.

Democrats on the trip were Reps. Jim McDermott of Washington, Michael M. Honda of California and Eddie Bernice Johnson of Texas, and nonvoting Delegates Madeleine Bordallo of Guam and Eni Faleomavaega of American Samoa.

Cash haul

Republican governors slipped back into the minority in the November midterms but show early signs of a comeback, raising a record $10.4 million for their annual dinner here in Washington yesterday, Georgia Gov. Sonny Perdue, the Republican Governors Association chairman, announced before the dinner.

Mr. Perdue attributed the fundraising success to the leadership of Missouri Gov. Matt Blunt, RGA vice chairman, and Texas Gov. Rick Perry, the chairman for last night’s dinner.

“After an election in 2006 with 36 gubernatorial races, our success this year shows that Americans continue to support the solutions-driven, results-oriented agenda of the Republican governors,” Mr. Perdue said.

Three governorships are up for election this year, two now held by Republicans — Kentucky and Mississippi — and the Louisiana Statehouse, held by a Democrat.

RGA Executive Director Nick Ayers cited a recent poll by the Republican polling firm Public Opinion Strategies, which showed “66 percent of registered voters in states with Republican governors approve of their governor’s job performance,” he said.

“Americans clearly approve of Republican governors’ leadership and tonight’s record-breaking dinner is evidence of that satisfaction,” Mr. Ayers said.

The RGA raised more than $28 million last year.

Backing McCain

Republican Sen. John W. Warner, the former chairman of the Armed Services Committee, yesterday endorsed Sen. John McCain for the Republican presidential nomination.

The five-term Virginia senator cited Mr. McCain’s service in the Navy and his familiarity with military issues in a statement backing his longtime friend, the Associated Press reports. Mr. McCain is expected to formally announce his candidacy next month.

“America’s next president will be challenged by a range of diplomatic and security issues of unprecedented complexity largely due to growing worldwide terrorist threats,” Mr. Warner said. “Senator McCain’s long experience with, and understanding of, our military, coupled with his proven, unquestioned courage and leadership, provide him with the essential qualifications for our next president.”

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

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