- The Washington Times - Monday, January 8, 2007

For the troops, against the war

Sen. Barack Obama says his staff is investigating how to vote against funding for more troops in Iraq without withholding “resources that are available to the troops on the ground.”

“It’s not clear that you can segment off appropriations,” said Mr. Obama, Illinois Democrat, at a 12:30 press conference on ethics reform.

Mr. Obama, a likely presidential candidate in 2008, said he doesn’t think 15,000 to 20,000 additional soldiers in Iraq “is going to make a difference.”

“Why would we want to compound a mistake that has already been made,” Mr. Obama said to reporters in the Senate TV and radio gallery.

Now, Sen.’s Lindsey Graham and Joe Lieberman are going to hold a press conference in the same room on why we should send more troops, a move President Bush is expected to announce Wednesday.

— Jon Ward, Capitol Hill correspondent, The Washington Times

Spinning Iraq on McCain

Political pundits are falling all over themselves to point out Democratic presidential hopeful John Edwards came up with a quaint new term to describe probable plans for sending a surge of troops to Iraq.

Mr. Edwards, appearing on news shows in late December after announcing his second bid for the White House, dubbed the plan the “McCain Doctrine” after Arizona Sen. John McCain, considered a top challenger for the Republican presidential nomination.

McCain, a veteran himself, has called for sending up to 20,000 more troops to Iraq, a plan President Bush is most likely to embrace in a televised address Wednesday night.

“It’s a catch slogan, and one that his ‘08 opponents wish they’d thought of,” political blog Hotline on Call recently gushed over Edwards.

Ahem: Iowa Gov. Tom Vilsack might beg to differ.

As first reported in our print editions back Dec. 22, the Democrat asked his supporters to send a letter to McCain in protest of his surge plan. “We can’t afford to make a big mistake even bigger,” Vilsack said then.

He may not be the fresh-faced media darling, but Vilsack was the first 2008er to slam the Arizona Republican.

Chances are, he won’t be the last.

— Christina Bellantoni, Capitol Hill correspondent, The Washington Times

Freshmen initiation

The freshman Democrat senators are having their first press conference today.

“The fact that we are here today … speaks volumes about the kind of leadership that Harry Reid is going to provide,” said Sen. Claire McCaskill, Missouri Democrat.

Majority Leader Harry Reid, Nevada Democrat, Sen. Russ Feingold, Wisconsin Democrat, and Sen. Barack Obama, Illinois headlined the press conference on ethics reform.

Eight freshman Democrat senators — the only one missing is Sen. Jim Webb of Virginia — were present, getting their first chance to address a large throng of reporters, in the Senate TV and radio gallery.

Mr. Feingold called the freshman “amazingly concise.”

— Jon Ward, Capitol Hill correspondent, The Washington Times

Oops

Seems the “series of tubes” that are the Internet haven’t quite caught up with the news that Republicans lost their majority.

A Google search for Roy Blunt, a Missourian who is now the Republican whip, leads surfers to majoritywhip.house.gov, his former Web page.

That site is now occupied by Majority Whip James Clyburn, South Carolina Democrat who tells visitors in a Web video that loads upon arrival: “Welcome to my new Web site.”

For the record, https://democraticwhip.house.gov, which used to belong to Maryland Rep. Steny Hoyer, takes you to the Democrat’s new site, where he touts his recent ascension to majority leader.

— Christina Bellantoni, Capitol Hill correspondent, The Washington Times

Baltimore’s girl

BALTIMORE — Not every spectator was a dyed-in-the-wool Democrat yesterday when House Speaker Nancy Pelosi — the first woman in that post — returned to Little Italy to see a street named in her honor.

“I’m a diehard Ronald Reagan and Richard Nixon kind of guy,” said John Ashe, 78, as he mingled in a crowd of hundreds on the newly christened Via Nancy D’Alesandro Pelosi, a nod to her maiden name and her connection to dynasty in Baltimore Democratic politics.

“But it’s a die hard Democratic neighborhood,” said Mr. Ashe, an Irishman who married into an Italian family. “Whatever turns these people on. I don’t knock them. … To each his own. God bless them.”

Tristin and Jason Gruenhagen, a South Dakota couple and registered Republicans on vacation in Baltimore, happened upon the event.

They said they would not let partisanship spoil their appreciation of the historical celebration.

“This is very exciting,” Mrs. Greunhagen said. “It’s a story we can take back home with us.”

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

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