- The Washington Times - Thursday, March 22, 2007

Obama fights back

Democratic presidential candidate Sen. Barack Obama of Illinois yesterday pushed back against accusations that his oft-repeated opposition to the Iraq war was not borne out by his Senate record.

In a conference call with reporters, the Associated Press reports, Mr. Obama sought to squelch the accusations — raised by his chief rival for the Democratic nomination, Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton of New York — saying his Senate votes don’t contradict his long-standing opposition to the war.

“Once we were in, we were going to have some responsibility to try to make it work as best we can. More importantly, you make sure the troops are supported,” he said. “I don’t think there’s any contradiction there whatsoever. We should not get in; once we were in, we had to make the best of a bad situation.”

Mrs. Clinton’s lead strategist, Mark Penn, had told an audience this week that Mr. Obama’s votes on the war since he arrived in the Senate in 2005 had been identical to Mrs. Clinton’s. Late last week, former President Bill Clinton was quoted in a New York tabloid gossip column complaining that not enough attention had been paid to Mr. Obama’s Senate votes on Iraq.

Mrs. Edwards’ health

Former Sen. John Edwards, North Carolina Democrat, yesterday visited the doctor with his wife, Elizabeth, who is recovering from breast cancer. His campaign announced a press conference scheduled for Chapel Hill, N.C., today to discuss her health, the Associated Press reports.

The campaign refused to answer any questions about what the Edwardses learned at the doctor’s appointment or how it might affect his presidential candidacy. Mr. Edwards had cut short a trip to Iowa on Tuesday to be with his wife yesterday, but still attended a Chapel Hill barbecue fundraiser later yesterday.

The campaign had said that Mrs. Edwards had a follow-up appointment to a routine test she had Monday, a pattern similar to past follow-ups that have always resulted in a clean bill of health. The campaign refused to elaborate. Family friends said last night that they didn’t know of any new complications.

Son of a gun

It’s not every day that a think-tank analyst discovers himself cited in a case that could make constitutional history, but such was the case recently with John R. Lott Jr. of the American Enterprise Institute.

Mr. Lott, an economist noted for his studies of armed self-defense, tells The Washington Times that he found it “amusing” that he was used as an example in a federal court ruling in the “Bong Hits 4 Jesus” case heard this week by the Supreme Court. That case (officially known as Morse v. Frederick) hinges on an Alaska school district’s argument that a student’s satirical banner undermined the school’s “basic educational mission to promote a healthy, drug-free lifestyle.”

In last year’s decision by the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, siding with Joseph Frederick on First Amendment grounds, Judge Andrew Kleinfeld wrote: “All sorts of missions are undermined by legitimate and protected speech — a school’s anti-gun mission would be undermined by a student passing around copies of John R. Lott’s book, ‘More Guns, Less Crime’; a school’s anti-alcohol mission would be undermined by a student e-mailing links to a medical study showing less heart disease among moderate drinkers than teetotalers.”

New York, too

The New York state Legislature overwhelmingly approved a measure yesterday to move its presidential primary up to Feb. 5, a move designed to help its favorite political son and daughter — Republican former New York City Mayor Rudolph W. Giuliani and Democratic U.S. Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton — in the 2008 race.

Democratic Gov. Eliot Spitzer is expected to sign the measure that would put New York with California and a host of other states opting for the new Super Tuesday showdown, the Associated Press reports.

The New York primary had been set for March 4, but the earlier date was sought by Mr. Giuliani and also supported by Mrs. Clinton, who lead in their respective party’s polls.

Boxer’s fundraising

Sen. Barbara Boxer, California Democrat and chairman of the Environment and Public Works Committee, used Al Gore‘s appearance yesterday before the committee to help raise money for her 2010 re-election campaign, the San Jose Mercury News reports.

In an e-mail sent earlier this month, Mrs. Boxer asked her supporters to sign an online thank-you card to Mr. Gore “for his many years of leadership and hard work,” which she planned to give to him yesterday. Next to the link for signing the card is a link to “contribute today” to the Friends of Barbara Boxer, which takes the user to instructions on how to donate online.

One campaign-finance watchdog, Melanie Sloan, called the e-mail “inappropriate, coming close to an ethical line,” because it suggests a link between a congressional hearing, legislative activity and campaign contributions.

A Boxer campaign consultant in Los Angeles, Rose Kapolczynski, defended the e-mail: “The entire focus is on Al Gore, not on making a contribution. There is a pro forma ‘contribute’ button at the bottom of the e-mail. There is no special access or benefit to the donor.”

Getting ‘hammered’

“When ‘Today’ co-host Meredith Vieira on Tuesday hit former House Majority Leader Tom ‘the Hammer’ DeLay over public opposition to the Iraq war, the Hammer hit back: ‘I didn’t know you spoke for the American people,’ ” the Media Research Center’s Brent Baker reports at www.mrc.org.

“Appearing on the ‘Today’ show to promote his new book, DeLay didn’t receive the kid-glove treatment NBC’s Meredith Vieira usually reserves for Hillary Clinton, as Vieira repeatedly questioned DeLay on his ethics and, picking up on his comment that demanding a set date for withdrawal from Iraq will aid the enemy, she lectured: ‘In a poll taken last week, sir, 59 percent of Americans say they agree that troops should be removed from Iraq by the fall of 2008. So does that mean that more than half of Americans are unpatriotic?’

“As Vieira deigned to interpret opinion polls on Iraq, she piously proclaimed: ‘Well I think they are saying, though, sir, not to beat a dead horse here, but I think they are saying they want American troops out by the fall of 2008.’ To which DeLay hammered back: ‘I didn’t know you spoke for the American people.’ ”

Allen joins YAF

Former Sen. George Allen has joined the Young America’s Foundation as its Reagan Ranch Presidential Scholar and accepted a position on the Reagan Ranch Board of Governors, officials announced yesterday.

“Throughout his long and distinguished time in public service, he has sparked great interest among students in George Washington, Thomas Jefferson and James Madison,” YAF President Ron Robinson said of the Virginia Republican. “His stalwart defense of individual freedom, free markets, and limited government makes him an excellent addition to the Young America’s Foundation leadership team.”

• Greg Pierce can be reached at 202/636-3285 or [email protected]washingtontimes.com.

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