- The Washington Times - Monday, January 29, 2007

White House reaction to weekend rally

“It’s nice to see Jane Fonda in front of the camera again.” — White House spokesman Tony Snow, commenting on this weekend’s anti-war march in Washington.

— Stephen Dinan, White House correspondent, The Washington Times

Comparing rallies

Asked earlier in the day what message President Bush took from the march, Mr. Snow juxtaposed it with last week’s other march, the pro-life rally Monday.

“You mean that it — that fewer people showed up than were projected, or than showed up for the March for Life?” he said.

— Stephen Dinan, White House correspondent, The Washington Times

Kennedy remembers late congressman

U.S. Sen. Edward M. Kennedy last night mourned the death of Father Robert Frederick Drinan, the former Massachusetts congressman and Georgetown University Law Center professor who died Sunday.

“All of us who knew him and served with him admired him for his deep faith, his profound commitment to public service, and the bold actions he constantly urged us to take to live up to our principles, especially in ending the Vietnam War,” Mr. Kennedy said. “He was a profile in courage in every sense of the word, and the nation has lost one of the finest persons ever to serve in Congress.”

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

No offense intended, Bush says

The White House yesterday said President Bush was not intending to insult Democrats when he labeled them the “Democrat Party” in last week’s State of the Union address.

It turns out that dropping the “ic” from “Democrat” offends some Democrats, delights some Republicans — and was totally unintentional, according to the president’s spokesman, Tony Snow.

“I want to thank everybody for making three mountains out of a molehill,” Mr. Snow told reporters today when asked about the offending lack of letters.

He said focusing on that single word, as many bloggers and talk-show guests from the liberal side have done, is obscuring Mr. Bush’s efforts to reach out to the new majority party — and Mr. Snow said that may just be the goal of some Democrats trying to heighten the split.

“That looks like an exercise in looking for a fence,” he said.

— Stephen Dinan, White House correspondent, The Washington Times

Sleepy McCain? Hogwash

All the hubbub about Sen. John McCain sleeping during the president’s State of the Union address last Tuesday is, in the words of Dick Cheney, “hogwash.”

I was sitting in the press gallery directly above the Arizona Republican, and he was not sleeping. He wasn’t paying much attention, but he was indeed awake.

McCain spent the majority of the speech reviewing a stack of index cards in his lap, presumably his talking points for television appearances immediately following the speech.

— Christina Bellantoni, Capitol Hill correspondent, The Washington Times

Family affair

Reporters got to meet some congressional kiddos Friday at the Republican retreat on the Eastern Shore.

As Conference Chairman Adam Putnam, 32, briefed press on President Bush’s private remarks, his young daughter came over and tugged on dad’s sleeve, prompting laughter from the scribes.

“She’s giving you your talking points,” joked Carl Hulse of the New York Times before Putnam’s staffers led the tot away.

Another reporter asked if child care was in the congressional job description.

The father of four didn’t miss a beat, telling us, “Last night I get an e-mail saying, ‘Call the hotel they’ve got an exploded diaper issue, we need a new outfit.’”

— Christina Bellantoni, Capitol Hill correspondent, The Washington Times

Bush the comedian

One Republican birdie told us a few gems about the president’s visit with the 160 members gathered for their annual retreat.

Bush reminded members of the Oops Moment last year at the retreat when his microphone was still turned on during private remarks he made after the press was ushered out of the room.

Our birdie said that on Friday, he president squinted towards the back of the room once reporters left, asking, “Is the feed off?”

For about 30 seconds, the president waited for his answer. He then noted the staffer manning the microphone is the same one who was responsible for it last year.

“It shows how generous a guy I am, he still works for me,” Bush told the Republicans.

Also, some eyebrows were raised when leaders surrounded Bush in what was described as an “Oprah-style” roundtable. Minority Leader John Boehner of Ohio and Thad McCotter of Michigan lit up, feeling no qualms about smoking around the commander-in-chief.

— Christina Bellantoni, Capitol Hill correspondent, The Washington Times

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