- The Washington Times - Friday, February 29, 2008

Farrakhan’s reply

Nation of Islam leader Louis Farrakhan said yesterday that any of his backers who also support presidential candidate Sen. Barack Obama shouldn’t be dissuaded by the senator’s denunciation of Mr. Farrakhan during the Democratic debate Tuesday.

Mr. Obama was asked during the televised debate with Democratic presidential rival Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton about Mr. Farrakhan’s support for the Obama campaign. Mr. Obama said he denounces Mr. Farrakhan’s anti-Semitic remarks and rejects his support.

Mr. Farrakhan sent an unsolicited statement yesterday to the Associated Press that he said was meant to respond to “outrage expressed by many” over Mr. Obama’s comments.

“Those who have been supporting Sen. Barack Obama should not allow what was said during the Feb. 26 presidential debate to lessen their support for his campaign. This is simply mischief making intended to hurt Mr. Obama politically.”

Mr. Farrakhan later clarified that by “mischief making” he was referring to the questions posed by debate moderator Tim Russert, host of NBC’s “Meet the Press.”

Bloomberg out

New York Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg said yesterday he will not seek the presidency but might put his support behind another candidate who embraces bipartisan governing.

Apparently ending a dance of presidential speculation that began more than two years ago, the 66-year-old billionaire businessman said in an opinion piece in yesterday’s New York Times that he will not start his own bid but will work to “steer the national conversation away from partisanship and toward unity; away from ideology and toward common sense; away from sound bites and toward substance.”

“I listened carefully to those who encouraged me to run, but I am not — and will not be — a candidate for president,” he wrote. “I have watched this campaign unfold, and I am hopeful that the current campaigns can rise to the challenge by offering truly independent leadership.”

The ‘nasty’ GOP

“Like an offensive-line blocking for their quarterback, Chris Matthews and the rest of Wednesday night’s ‘Hardball’ panel game-planned to protect Barack Obama from what they saw as the coming ‘vicious’ and ‘nasty’ attacks from Republican sack artists in the fall,” the Media Research Center’s Brent Baker writes at www.mrc.org.

“Matthews, along with NBC’s Norah O’Donnell and Newsweek’s Howard Fineman, continued to gripe about conservative talk show host Bill Cunningham’s emphasis of Barack Obama’s middle name of Hussein as Matthews worried: ‘Is this gonna be a vicious, almost ethnic fight, going after the guy because of his heritage, his name and saying, “He’s gonna sell us out.” Is that what’s coming?’

“To which O’Donnell fearfully replied: ‘I think, unfortunately, that’s gonna be one of the dirty storylines of this campaign.’ Fineman then predicted of the GOP general campaign tactics: ‘It’s gonna be nasty and vicious.’ ”

Pelosi’s request

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi yesterday asked the Justice Department to open a grand jury investigation into whether Joshua B. Bolten, the White House chief of staff, and Harriet Miers, President Bush’s former counsel, should be prosecuted for contempt of Congress.

Mrs. Pelosi, California Democrat, demanded that the department pursue misdemeanor charges against Miss Miers for refusing to testify to Congress about the firings of federal prosecutors in 2006 and against Mr. Bolten for failing to turn over White House documents related to the dismissals, the Associated Press reports.

The Democrat-led House voted two weeks ago to hold Mr. Bolten and Miss Miers in contempt for failing to cooperate with committee investigations.

“There is no authority by which persons may wholly ignore a subpoena and fail to appear as directed because a president unilaterally instructs them to do so,” Mrs. Pelosi wrote Attorney General Michael B. Mukasey.

She added: “Short of a formal assertion of executive privilege, which cannot be made in this case, there is no authority that permits a president to advise anyone to ignore a duly issued congressional subpoena for documents.”

McCain scoffs

Sen. John McCain said yesterday he is sure he is constitutionally qualified to be president even though he was not born in a U.S. state.

“I have absolutely no concern about that,” said Mr. McCain, who was born on Aug. 29, 1936, at the Coco Solo Air Base in the then-American-controlled Panama Canal Zone.

The U.S. Constitution says a president must be a “natural born citizen” of the United States. Mr. McCain, responding to questions about a New York Times story yesterday, said his staff researched the question when he ran for president in 2000.

“It’s very clear that an American born in a territory of the United States, whose father is serving in the military, would not be eligible for the presidency of the United States is certainly not something our Founding Fathers envisioned,” said the senator from Arizona.

“He was born on American soil, just like Obama or Clinton,” senior McCain adviser Charlie Black told Joseph Curl with The Washington Times. “The entire canal zone was American soil until Jimmy Carter gave it away.”

Running mate

Ralph Nader yesterday named Matt Gonzalez, former president of San Francisco’s Board of Supervisors, as his running mate.

He made the announcement four days after declaring his candidacy as an independent for the presidential election this year, his fourth run since 1996.

“He has a steadfast commitment to the values and directions that have characterized my work,” Mr. Nader said about Mr. Gonzalez. “He strongly understands that what we are trying to do is make this a better, stronger democracy.”

Mr. Gonzalez, who worked as San Francisco’s deputy public defender 1991 through 2000, listed election reform and poverty as key issues in the campaign, reports Michael Farr of The Washington Times. He said he holds Mr. Nader in “very high esteem,” and “shares his politics.”

Mr. Nader said he met Mr. Gonzalez during an anti-Iraq war speaking tour in California.

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

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