- The Washington Times - Friday, February 15, 2008

No pandering

Rush Limbaugh, in an interview with Time magazine’s Jay Carney, said it would be a mistake for Republican presidential candidate Sen. John McCain to make any gestures to appease him.

“Is there anything John McCain can do to persuade you he’s acceptable?” Mr. Carney asked the conservative radio talk-show host, who has been an outspoken critic of the Arizona senator.

“I don’t think he should even try,” Mr. Limbaugh said. “He’s got to be who he is. I don’t think he needs to reach out. His job is not to be acceptable to a single person. I’m not sitting here demanding that. I don’t have that kind of sense of power or existence. …

“I don’t think Senator McCain ought to do anything but be who he is and let the chips fall. Because that’s his strength. And if he starts doing anything that appears to be pandering to people, then he’s going to lose, I think some — I don’t know, respect — but some people are going to question it. Because he’s never pandered. At least his image is that he’s never pandered. He’s a maverick. He’s out there on his own, and he’s going to ride the trail wherever it takes him, in the direction he wants to go. I wouldn’t expect it.”

Mr. Limbaugh added, “You know, when it comes down to a general election — looks like it’s going to be [Senator Barack] Obama vs. McCain — any number of ways of playing this, and one of them, I don’t necessarily have to tout McCain, but I certainly will be critical of Obama. Once we get down to the general, you start examining what this guy’s policies are. Right now [Obama is] saying nothing better than anybody has ever said it. At least in my lifetime. It’s going have to get specific at some point.”

The interview was posted yesterday at www.time.com.

Class warfare

“The conventional critique of Sen. Obama has held that his pitch is perfect but at some point he’ll need to make the appeal more concrete,” Wall Street Journal columnist Daniel Henninger writes.

“I think the potential vulnerability runs deeper. Strip away the new coat of paint from the Obama message and what you find is not only familiar, it’s a downer,” Mr. Henninger said.

“Up to now, the force of Sen. Obama’s physical presentation has so dazzled audiences that it has been hard to focus on precisely what he is saying. ‘Yes, we can! Yes, we can!’ Can what?

“Listen closely to that Tuesday night Wisconsin speech. Unhinge yourself from the mesmerizing voice. What one hears is a message that is largely negative, illustrated with anecdotes of unremitting bleakness. Heavy with class warfare, it is a speech that could have been delivered by a Democrat in 1968, or even 1928.”

By the numbers

Democratic Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton is leading rival Sen. Barack Obama in Ohio and Pennsylvania, according to polls released yesterday by Quinnipiac University.

In Ohio, Mrs. Clinton holds a 21-percentage-point lead over the Illinois senator, 55 percent to 34 percent. The former first lady considers a victory in Ohio’s March 4 contest pivotal to saving her candidacy, which has been rocked by a string of Obama victories from coast to coast. The poll shows she has more than a 2-to-1 lead in the state among whites, and almost as big an advantage with women and voters age 45 and over, the Associated Press reports.

In Pennsylvania, Mrs. Clinton is ahead of Mr. Obama, 52 percent to 36 percent. For this April 22 contest, Mrs. Clinton has a 20-percentage-point lead among women and an edge with men of half that number. Whites back her by about 2-to-1, while seven in 10 blacks are behind Mr. Obama.

Mrs. Clinton leads among older and younger voters and those without college degrees, while Mr. Obama is on top with college graduates in Pennsylvania.

Both polls were conducted by phone Feb. 6-12 and had a margin of sampling error of 4.1 percentage points. The Pennsylvania poll involved interviews with 577 likely Pennsylvania Democratic voters, while the Ohio poll involved interviews with 564 likely Ohio Democratic voters.

Chafee’s choice

Former Republican Sen. Lincoln Chafee of Rhode Island endorsed Democratic Sen. Barack Obama yesterday as the best presidential candidate to restore the nation’s credibility.

Mr. Chafee, who left the GOP last year and became an independent, said the Illinois senator has the intelligence, ideas and fortitude needed to be the next president.

“I believe Senator Obama is the best candidate to restore American credibility, to restore our confidence, to be moral and just, and to bring people together to solve the complex issues such as the economy, the environment and global stability,” Mr. Chafee said in a conference call with reporters.

Mr. Chafee, one of the most liberal Republicans in the Senate, lost his seat in 2006 to Democrat Sheldon Whitehouse. Mr. Chafee was the only Republican in the Senate to vote against the war in Iraq, and said Mr. Obama’s early opposition to the war was key to his decision, the Associated Press reports.

He said he spoke with Mr. Obama on Tuesday and offered to do anything he wanted to help him win. Rhode Island’s primary will be held March 4, the same day as primaries in Texas, Ohio and Vermont.

Meat concerns

Democrats on Capitol Hill want the Bush administration to investigate meat safety in the National School Lunch Program, after reported abuse of cattle by one of the program’s suppliers.

The undercover video, shot by the Humane Society and released last month, shows employees of the Westland/Hallmark Meat Co. in Chino, Calif., using inhumane practices to force downed cows to stand in order to pass federal inspection, according to a release from the office of the House Education and Labor Committee’s chairman, Rep. George Miller of California.

Meat from injured or “downer” cows has a greater risk of E. coli, and salmonella and is banned from entering the food supply.

The Agriculture Department immediately alerted schools to pull all suspected beef from Westland, pending an investigation, but Mr. Miller and other Democrats, including Sen. Richard J. Durbin of Illinois, said the incident raises broader concerns. They sent a letter to the U.S. Government Accountability Office yesterday demanding officials examine the process for protecting students from dangerous food.

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

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