- The Washington Times - Tuesday, February 5, 2008

Dole’s letter

Sen. John McCain, taking heat from conservative talk-radio pundits, got an assist yesterday from former Republican presidential nominee Bob Dole.

Mr. Dole wrote a letter defending Mr. McCain to talk-radio pioneer Rush Limbaugh, who has warned that to choose Mr. McCain as the Republican standard-bearer would destroy the party. Mr. Dole said he is neutral in the race but said that all the major party candidates are mainstream Republicans.

“I worked closely with Sen. McCain when he came to the Senate in 1987 until I departed,” Mr. Dole, the former Senate Republican leader, wrote in a letter. Mr. McCain’s campaign released a copy yesterday.

“I cannot recall a single instance when he did not support the party on critical votes. (At my age, I cannot be entirely certain but here are a few key conservative examples),” wrote the 84-year-old Mr. Dole, who served in the Senate for more than 27 years.

Mr. Dole cited Mr. McCain’s opposition to abortion and his support for conservative judges, voluntary school prayer and a balanced-budget amendment, among other issues.

“Whoever wins the Republican nomination will need your enthusiastic support. Two terms for the Clintons are enough,” concluded Mr. Dole.

‘Talk of the town’

“ABC on Friday night decided to devote an entire story to speculating about what is supposedly ‘the talk of the town’ — a potential Democratic ‘Dream Ticket’ of Clinton and Obama or Obama and Clinton,” the Media Research Center’s Brent Baker writes at www.mrc.org.

“With ‘Dream Ticket?’ on screen, anchor Charles Gibson set up the piece by pointing out how, during the debate on CNN the night before, Clinton and Obama ‘were asked if they might run together — one for president, the other for vice president.’ Gibson insisted: “It has been on many people’s minds.’

“In the subsequent story, Jake Tapper asserted with a black man or white woman ‘poised to make history,’ there is ‘one way to top it.’ He then played a clip of Wolf Blitzer asking during the debate: ‘Would you consider an Obama-Clinton or Clinton-Obama ticket going down the road?’

“Maintaining ‘the possibility is the talk of the town,’ Tapper backed his supposition by highlighting the belief of his colleague, ex-Clintonista George Stephanopoulos, who predicted: ‘Because they’re both fighting this out through Super Tuesday, I think the chances are better than ever before.’ Challenged by Diane Sawyer to a bet in the clip Tapper played from ‘Good Morning America,’ Stephanopoulos took her up: ‘Absolutely. I’ll bet if she gets the nomination, she picks him.’ ”

Obama love-in

From perfect hair to the spirit of “Hair,” Sen. Barack Obama continues to rack up support in the entertainment industry.

Actor George Clooney yesterday said he was backing the Illinois senator as Hollywood gathered for the annual Oscars nominees luncheon, on the eve of Super Tuesday.

“I’ve been an Obama guy for a year and a half, and I’m very excited by his campaign,” the “Ocean’s 11” and “Michael Clayton” star told reporters. “It just seems that the more time he’s out there, his numbers keep growing. So I’m very, very encouraged.”

At the other end of the state and at the other end of grooming, the surviving members of the Grateful Dead threw their weight behind Mr. Obama, playing for 2,400 fans who lined up for hours to see the “Deadheads for Obama ‘08” reunion concert.

“Every few generations a guy like this comes along,” percussionist Mickey Hart said at a news conference. “It seems like desperate times, and we’re desperate people.” At the San Francisco concert, singer-guitarist Bob Weir said the band had never performed on behalf of a presidential candidate.

But Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton got a “thumbs up” of her own from Old Hollywood — picking up the endorsement of Jack Nicholson, who said on the Rick Dees radio program that “Mrs. Clinton has been involved in issues, everything from health care — which we know — and prison reform and helping the military, speaking for women and speaking for Americans.”

Simply clueless?

“A year after the American troop surge in Iraq began, its success is clear, even to Newsweek, The Washington Post, and Rep. John Murtha,” Fred Schwarz writes at National Review Online (www. nationalreview.com).

“As Wesley Morgan details in the current issue of National Review, violence is way down, American troop levels are decreasing, tribal leaders are casting their lot with America, and a tattered al Qaeda is on the run. Yet most leading Democrats sound like they haven’t heard the news,” Mr. Schwarz said.

“After Bush’s State of the Union Address last week, Hillary Clinton said, ‘President Bush is not satisfied with failure after failure in Iraq; he wants to bind the next president to his failed strategy …,’ while Barack Obama’s assessment was: ‘Tonight we heard President Bush say that the surge in Iraq is working, when we know that’s just not true.’ During Thursday night’s debate at the Kodak Theater, conservative radio host Michael Graham asked in frustration, ‘Do these two U.S. senators have any idea what’s actually happening in Iraq?’

“Are they simply clueless? Maybe, though you have to suspect that they do actually know the surge is working. Unpatriotic? Call it what you will; there’s nothing like amplifying every failure and minimizing every success to show the troops in the field which side you’re rooting for.”

‘A sacred trust’

Republican Mike Huckabee told voters in Texarkana, Ark., they could look at his history in Arkansas as a Southern Baptist minister and former governor to see that he is consistent on conservative issues.

Mr. Huckabee sought to draw a distinction between his candidacy and that of opponent Mitt Romney, without naming the former Massachusetts governor, the Associated Press reports. Mr. Romney once supported homosexual rights and abortion rights, but says he has changed his mind.

“Being president is not just a job. It’s a sacred trust,” Mr. Huckabee told about 600 people at an airport hangar. “People give you the trust of that office, and people need to know what you say is what you really believe and there’s clarity to your convictions.”

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

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