- The Washington Times - Tuesday, September 18, 2007

We hardly knew ye

Former Rhode Island Sen. Lincoln D. Chafee, whom the national Republican Party rescued from a conservative primary challenger last year, says he has quit the party.

Although Mr. Chafee defeated former Cranston Mayor Stephen P. Laffey, the senator lost in November to Democrat Sheldon Whitehouse.

Mr. Chafee told the Providence Journal he abandoned the party that he had helped lead — and that his father had led before him — because the national Republican Party has moved too far from his stance on too many critical issues, from war to economics to the environment.

“It’s not my party anymore,” he said.

Mr. Chafee said he formally left the party “in June or July,” making him an unaffiliated voter. He did so quietly, and until Sunday, he said, “No one’s asked me about it.” He said he made the move because “I want my affiliation to accurately reflect my status.”

Romney vs. Iran

Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney urged the United Nations yesterday to revoke an invitation for Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad to speak next week and said the Iranian leader should be indicted for war crimes.

In a letter to U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, the former Massachusetts governor said Washington should reconsider support for the world body if Mr. Ahmadinejad addresses the U.N. General Assembly Sept. 25 as scheduled, Reuters news agency reports.

“The Iranian regime under President Ahmadinejad has spoken openly about wiping Israel off the map, has fueled Hezbollah’s terror campaign in the region and around the world and defied the world community in its pursuit of nuclear weapons,” Mr. Romney wrote in the one-page letter.

“If President Ahmadinejad sets foot in the United States, he should be handed an indictment under the Genocide Convention,” Mr. Romney said.

U.N. spokeswoman Michele Montas said she was unaware of Mr. Romney’s letter.

On Sunday, Mr. Ahmadinejad challenged President Bush to a debate on global issues at the summit and condemned U.S. policies in the Middle East, including Iraq, according to an interview on Iranian state television.

Murtha prediction

Rep. John P. Murtha, Pennsylvania Democrat, predicts Republican members of Congress will begin abandoning President Bush’s Iraq policy after the Republican party picks a presidential candidate next year, the Hill newspaper reports.

“As soon as the primaries are over, you’ll see Republicans start jumping ship,” Mr. Murtha said in remarks at the National Press Club.

Mr. Murtha also predicted that despite the unpopularity of Congress, Democrats will make broad gains in next year’s election because voters are upset with the war.

“People are frustrated, but you’re going to see a big Democratic increase,” he told reporters after his speech. “I think we’ll pick up 40 [to] 50 seats.”

Mr. Murtha also tersely said he would denounce the newspaper advertisement taken out by the liberal group MoveOn.org criticizing commanding Gen. David H. Petraeus as “General Betray Us.” Without elaborating, he said “yes” when asked if he would distance himself from the ad.

Honoring LBJ

The U.S. Department of Education building — at 400 Maryland Ave. SW, just blocks from the U.S. Capitol — was renamed yesterday as the Lyndon Baines Johnson Department of Education Building.

“President Johnson worked tirelessly to provide an equal education to all children,” Education Secretary Margaret Spellings said in a ceremony yesterday.

Mr. Johnson — who spent a year as a principal and teacher in South Texas — became the 36th president of the United States on Nov. 22, 1963, after the assassination of President John F. Kennedy.

During his presidency, he signed several education-related bills into law, including the Elementary and Secondary Education Act, which sent federal funds to help disadvantaged children in poor and rural areas and became the foundation for other federal education laws, including President Bush’s No Child Left Behind law.

Rep. Gene Green, Texas Democrat, and Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison, Texas Republican, sponsored legislation to rename the Education Department’s building in Mr. Johnson’s honor. Mr. Bush signed the bill in March.

A real sports fan

New Mexico Gov. Bill Richardson, who earlier this year said he was a fan of both the New York Yankees and the Boston Red Sox, yesterday accused the NFL’s New England Patriots of “spying on innocent Americans.”

“The president has been allowed to spy on Americans without a warrant, and our U.S. Senate is letting it continue,” CNN.com quotes the Democratic presidential contender as saying. “You know something is wrong when the New England Patriots face stiffer penalties for spying on innocent Americans than Dick Cheney and George Bush.”

The NFL fined the Patriots and coach Bill Belichick hundreds of thousands of dollars and took away draft choices over the team’s use of video equipment to steal opposing teams’ play signals.

Keyes, again

Alan Keyes, a Republican whose two previous runs for president ended in failure, is making a third try for the White House.

The Maryland conservative announced on his Web site that he filed paperwork with the Federal Election Commission on Friday to make his candidacy official, the Associated Press reports. He joins a crowded Republican field of nine candidates and was scheduled to participate last night at a debate involving lesser-known candidates in Florida.

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

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