- The Washington Times - Wednesday, March 7, 2007

Revival meeting

Liberal Republicans said yesterday they are reviving a group aimed at winning over the political center that deserted the party in the 2006 midterm elections.

The Republican Leadership Council (RLC) was founded in 1993 to expand the party’s base, but has not been very involved in campaigns since 2003. It’s now attempting to recruit candidates that are fiscally conservative but liberal on social issues.

Former Gov. Christie Whitman of New Jersey, former Sen. John Danforth of Missouri and former Maryland Lt. Gov. Michael S. Steele want to revitalize the RLC, which has a counterpart in the centrist Democratic Leadership Council. The RLC is being combined with Mrs. Whitman’s political action committee IMP-PAC — It’s My Party, Too.

“After the losses in 2006, the reaction was overwhelming that we need to get the Republican Party back to its fiscally conservative roots,” Mrs. Whitman said, adding that the party needs to be “a little less judgmental.”

Tom Ridge, former homeland security secretary and former governor of Pennsylvania, said “inclusiveness” will be an important theme.

“You don’t have to agree with me all the time to be a good Republican,” Mr. Ridge said.

The council will promote Republican candidates at the local, state and federal levels who favor low taxes, balanced budgets, strong national defense, protection of the environment and less government interference in individual lives, the Associated Press reports.

That’s rich

Al Gore’s movie, ‘An Inconvenient Truth,’ was billed as ‘a passionate and inspirational look at one man’s fervent crusade to halt global warming’s deadly progress in its tracks by exposing the myths and misconceptions that surround it.’ But right after the movie won an Oscar for best documentary, America learned that Gore’s crusade ends at his front door,” San Francisco Chronicle columnist Debra Saunders writes.

A conservative think tank, the Tennessee Center for Policy Research, circulated a press release that showed the Gores spent $30,000 a year on energy for their suburban Nashville home — and burned 221,000 kilowatt hours last year, or 20 times the national average. The reaction of Gore’s spokesperson is instructive. Kalee Kreider told ABC News’ Jake Tapper, “I think what you’re seeing here is the last gasp of the global warming skeptics. They’ve completely lost the debate on the issue, so now they’re just attacking their most effective opponent.”

“Kreider is right, in a way. Gore is the most effective global-warming advocate in America. Yet somehow Gore has little problem doing a lot of the very thing he tells the rest of the country not to do — that is, burning more energy than is necessary,” the columnist writes.

“The message comes across loud and clear: The Gores are rich, and rich people are going to burn a lot of energy. They won’t let their belief in global warming crimp their lifestyle.

“That’s why ‘Inconvenient Truth’ producer Laurie David can boast on the movie Web site that she is ‘committed to stopping global warming,’ denounce people who drive SUVs — and still fly in private Gulfstream jets. (Having been blasted in the press for her high-flying ways, David told ABC last year that she was cutting back on her private-plane travel. Talk about commitment.)

“And let us not forget two other California pioneers on climate change — California Sen. Dianne Feinstein and Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger, both owners of multiple SUVs and users of private planes.”

Still waiting

It’s been more than a month since the Senate, with much fanfare, passed an increase in the minimum wage.

The House passed its bill upping the wage to $7.25 per hour in January, but minimum-wage workers have seen no raise because a compromise has languished.

House Majority Leader Steny H. Hoyer, Maryland Democrat, said during his press briefing yesterday that the two chambers are “working on that.”

“We did a great job on the minimum wage in the House. That’s the first step and we did it in a timely fashion,” he said. “I think it is a moral negligence of the Congress of the United States not to have passed an increase in the minimum wage in the last 10 years, period.”

He noted that, as a compromise with the Senate, the House passed a $1.3 billion small-business tax cut to offset the expense of increasing the minimum wage.

Senate Republicans had attached their own, larger small-business tax package to their chamber’s version.

“I would much rather have a bill passed than simply say I voted for the perfect,” Mr. Hoyer said. “We hope it passes, and we hope it passes as lean as possible.”

Florida friends

Presidential contender Mitt Romney has tapped a prominent Cuban-American Republican in Florida for his first radio ad targeting Spanish-speaking voters.

Al Cardenas, former chairman of the Florida Republican Party and a close ally of former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush, describes Mr. Romney as a friend of the Hispanic community and an ally in its drive for a democratic Cuba, the Associated Press reports.

“It is a difficult time in the world, in the Americas, and in our Cuba in transition,” Mr. Cardenas says in his native Spanish during the spot, which promotes Mr. Romney’s speech Friday at a Lincoln Day Dinner in Miami-Dade County. “Mitt Romney understands the dynamic of Cuba.”

During an appearance in Florida last month, Mr. Romney declared he supported the current U.S. embargo on Cuba to avoid enriching Cuban President Fidel Castro, a communist dictator he accused of disrupting peace and stability in the region.

Arizona Sen. John McCain, a leading rival for the party’s nomination, similarly supports the embargo and has picked up the support of three prominent Cuban-American lawmakers, Reps. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, Lincoln Diaz-Balart and Mario Diaz-Balart, all Florida Republicans.

Iowa-bound

Republican presidential hopeful Rudolph W. Giuliani is planning his first campaign trip to Iowa next month, a sign that he is considering competing in the early-voting state where social conservatives dominate the party caucuses.

The Giuliani campaign said yesterday that the former New York City mayor plans a few days of events in the state the week of April 2.

Mr. Giuliani leads the crowded Republican field in several national polls. But it’s unclear just how much support a pro-abortion rights, pro-gun control, pro-homosexual rights Republican can get among those attending Iowa’s party caucuses, the Associated Press reports.

That has led to speculation that Mr. Giuliani may skip Iowa’s contest to focus on states that would be more amenable to his stance on those issues.

In recent weeks, Mr. Giuliani has brought on Jim Nussle, a former Iowa congressman and 2006 candidate for governor, as an adviser, and Tony Delgado, a former staffer at the Republican National Committee, to focus on the state.

Greg Pierce can be reached at 202/636-3285 or gpierce@washingtontimes.comt-6>.

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