- The Washington Times - Monday, January 22, 2007

Last resort

First, Newt Gingrich said he would run for president in 2008 only if no other Republican emerged as a clear front-runner. Now, the former House speaker says he will run only as a “last resort.”

His assessment came in response to a question by Chris Wallace, host of “Fox News Sunday.”

“You sound as if you think about running for president as a last resort, not as a first resort?” Mr. Wallace asked.

“Exactly,” Mr. Gingrich answered. “I mean, nobody’s ever said it quite that way, but you’re right.”

Mr. Gingrich said he first hoped to influence the presidential race by providing candidates in both parties with his “solutions” to problems such as health care, energy, education, national security and immigration.

“If, in that process, it becomes necessary to run, then I’ll run,” Mr. Gingrich said.

“Last resort, not first resort?” Mr. Wallace repeated.

“Last resort,” Gingrich replied.

Mr. Gingrich said last month that it would not be too late for him to enter the race after Labor Day, if he thought no candidate had a clear advantage.

Fear of leaks

The procedure has changed when it comes to revising the president’s State of the Union Address, Peggy Noonan discovered in a conversation with an administration official.

“I asked the administration official how the speech looks. He said he’d only seen part of it, that each agency now receives for review only the section of the speech that is pertinent to it. This surprised me. In the Reagan White House, the whole speech was sent out to the agencies. This caused problems of its own — a poet at Treasury might accidentally rewrite American foreign policy — but it allowed the speech to emerge with a certain definable character,” Miss Noonan wrote at www.opinionjournal.com.

“The change suggested two things. One is that the new way might account for the increased choppiness of such addresses over the years. It’s hard to maintain a flow if each section bears different marks. The other is that the administration must be very anxious about leaks, worried that the guy in the Office of Management and Budget will leak the foreign-affairs section or the guy in Commerce will leak the references to immigration. It’s difficult to run a government when you have to operate with such anxiety.”

Alabama favorites

Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton’s entry into the presidential race is exciting Alabama Democrats, who rate her, Sen. Barack Obama and John Edwards as the candidates to watch in the state’s new presidential primary.

Mrs. Clinton announced Saturday that she will file papers today to form a presidential exploratory committee. Mr. Obama of Illinois and Mr. Edwards, the Democratic vice-presidential nominee in 2004, have already taken that step.

“I’d put Obama, Clinton and Edwards in a clump of three, with the others in the back,” Joe Turnham, chairman of the Alabama Democratic Party, told the Associated Press.

He said that Mrs. Clinton is probably supported by about one-fourth of the likely Democratic voters in Alabama and that if she wants to build on that, she will have to campaign actively in the state — something Bill Clinton didn’t do because he had the nomination locked up before Alabama’s primary.

The Alabama Legislature has moved up Alabama’s presidential primary by four months to Feb. 5, 2008. The state will go from being last in the South to second behind South Carolina. Because of that, the state is getting more attention from likely presidential candidates of both parties.

Clean record

Former Rep. Bill Janklow, South Dakota Republican, will emerge from his manslaughter probation today with a clean record, more than three years after he sped through a stop sign in a Cadillac and killed a motorcyclist.

Mr. Janklow already regained his law license and can get behind the wheel again, having obeyed all conditions of his release, his probation officer said.

But the 67-year-old’s political career is through.

“I think that it’s good for everyone involved that this chapter has come to a conclusion,” said Ed Evans, the lawyer who represented him at trial.

Mr. Janklow told the Associated Press that he did not want to comment about the end of his probation.

Mr. Janklow was governor for 16 years, serving four terms in two eight-year stints. In 2002, he was elected as South Dakota’s only member of the House.

His record will be cleared because Circuit Judge Rodney Steele, now retired, issued Mr. Janklow a suspended imposition of sentence in 2004 — a one-time-only pass for a person found guilty of a felony.

A suspended imposition of sentence is similar to a pardon, and means that a judge has placed the jury’s guilty verdict on hold. There is no conviction on record if a person complies with all conditions specified as punishment by the judge.

Peace at last

“Here’s proof that election victories can salve wounds. The new chairman of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, Rep. Chris Van Hollen, has asked party Chair Howard Dean to help recruit candidates,” Paul Bedard writes in the Washington Whispers column of U.S. News & World Report.

“It was just a few months ago that the old head of the DCCC was swearing at Dean for not spending enough on House races. But Dean and Van Hollen ‘broke bread’ at their first meeting. Tapping Dean was smart: Not only does he travel lots, but the former Vermont guv was once the recruitment boss of the Democratic Governors’ Association.”

Pigskin politics

Last week, the House of Representatives approved a resolution honoring the University of Florida football team, winner of the national championship game.

This provided occasion for comment by staffers for Rep. Jack Kingston, Georgia Republican, a proud alumnus of the University of Georgia, whose Bulldogs are bitter rivals of Florida’s Gators in the Southeastern Conference (SEC).

“Although we do feel that the Florida Gators did a great service by proving once again that the SEC is THE elite conference in college football, as Georgia Bulldogs, we could support no such resolution,” an anonymous staffer wrote on the blog at the congressman’s official Web site (https://kingston.house.gov/blog). “We encouraged Jack to vote against this resolution as we felt the constituents of the First District would want him to do so.

“Jack was the lone member of Congress to oppose the resolution, and we couldn’t be more proud of him. Despite getting much grief for his vote from his House colleagues, he was able to deliver the fundamental message we wanted him to convey — GO DAWGS!”

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

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