- The Washington Times - Friday, March 14, 2008

Kingmaker

Although much has been made of Rush Limbaugh’s failure to keep Sen.John McCain from winning the Republican nomination for president, some liberal bloggers now suggest the conservative radio talk-show host is fast becoming a kingmaker on the Democratic side.

John K. Wilson, a blogger and supporter of Sen.Barack Obama, said a significant number of Mississippi Republicans at Mr. Limbaugh’s behest crossed over and voted for Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton on Tuesday. Mr. Limbaugh, calling it Operation Chaos, has urged listeners in primary states to vote for Mrs. Clinton to roil the Democratic race and keep it going.

Mr. Wilson, writing Wednesday at www.huffington post.com, said that what most pundits missed “was the fact that Obama’s victory would have been even more overwhelming in Mississippi (and he might have won the popular vote in Texas) if not for the ‘Limbaugh effect’: Republicans voting in the Democratic primary in order to undermine Barack Obama and help John McCain.”

Mr. Wilson added: “Approximately 25 percent of Clinton’s voters in Mississippi were Republicans voting for a candidate they hate in order to try to undermine Barack Obama. Obama’s 61-37 margin of victory in Mississippi would have been around 70-30 without Clinton’s Republican voters, and Obama would have easily expanded his delegate win there from 19-14 to 24-9. …

“The only hope for Hillary Clinton is that Republican voters will help her reduce the gap against Obama, and that the superdelegates will somehow be convinced to obey the will of Rush Limbaugh and his acolytes by stealing the election from the legitimate voters.”

Cold water

“I attended the Council for National Policy meeting last week in New Orleans and listened to John McCain address the who’s who of Hillary Rodham Clinton’s vast right-wing conspiracy. It was another chance for McCain to, in his words, ‘not just unite, but reignite the base,’ ” former Sen. Rick Santorum, Pennsylvania Republican, writes in the Philadelphia Inquirer.

“How did the crowd think he did? Let’s just say it’s hard to ignite anything with cold water and no fire,” Mr. Santorum said.

“He talked about two legs of the Republican stool — spending/taxes and national security. But the third leg — social issues — went unmentioned.”

“The vast majority of the people at the meeting and in the conservative movement will vote for McCain. I will. But will the people who make up the backbone of the get-out-the vote effort go to work for him?

“Only if he demonstrates that his vaunted pragmatism and open-mindedness will lead him to different positions on some issues” where recent developments have enhanced conservative arguments, such as on the Federal Marriage Amendment, embryonic stem-cell research and global warming.

More debates

Democratic Sens. Barack Obama and Hillary Rodham Clinton plan to debate in Philadelphia next month before Pennsylvania’s primary, their presidential campaigns said yesterday.

ABC News will host the debate on a date still to be determined. Pennsylvania voters go to the polls April 22 for the primary, a contest with 158 delegates at stake.

Mr. Obama also agreed to a matchup April 19 hosted by CBS News in North Carolina, his campaign said. North Carolina has 115 delegates up for grabs in its May 6 primary. CBS News said it is awaiting word on whether Mrs. Clinton will participate.

Three in a row

“For the third evening in a row Wednesday, the ‘NBC Nightly News’ refused to identify Eliot Spitzer as a Democrat,” the Media Research Center’s Brent Baker writes at www.mrc.org.

However, ABC’s “World News” finally got around to mentioning Mr. Spitzer’s party affiliation, after failing to do so Monday and Tuesday night, when Elizabeth Vargas anchored. On Wednesday, substitute anchor George Stephanopoulos finally properly tagged him: “The Democrat resigned today just two days after reports that he patronized a high-priced prostitution service.”

Said Mr. Baker: “In contrast, fill-in ‘NBC Nightly News’ anchor Ann Curry on Wednesday teased news about ‘New York’s crusading governor’ and then led her broadcast sans any party identification” and correspondent Mike Taibbi, just as he did Monday and Tuesday, did not name parties in his piece.

“CBS was the only broadcast network evening newscast to have [named his party] on Monday, the day news of his dalliance with a prostitute broke.”

Hyper-sensitivity

Democratic political commentator James Carville says it’s time for the campaigns of Sens.Hillary Rodham Clinton and Barack Obama to stop forcing each other’s surrogates to quit after making controversial statements.

Citing the resignations of Geraldine Ferraro, “for popping off with some late-night bar room logic” about Mr. Obama, and Samantha Power, for calling Mrs. Clinton “a monster,” Mr. Carville said: “This sort of hyper-sensitivity diminishes everyone who engages in it, both the candidates and the media.

Mr. Carville, writing in the Financial Times, said Miss Power should “come back to work,” and Mrs. Ferraro “should have been dispatched to a cruise ship for a few weeks of sightseeing and spa treatments. I hear Antarctica is a popular destination this time of year.”

Mr. Unpopular

Former President Bill Clinton‘spopularity has plunged in the past year, according to a survey released yesterday.

More respondents in the NBC News-Wall Street Journal poll view Mr. Clinton in a negative light (45 percent) than in a positive one (42 percent). That’s a marked change from a year ago, when Mr. Clinton’s positive rating (48 percent) was higher than his negative score (35 percent), NBC News Deputy Political Editor Mark Murray wrote yesterday at www.msnbc.msn.com.

Mr. Clinton, who once was described as the first black president, most lost support among blacks and Barack Obama supporters, Mr. Murray said. The NBC-Journal poll was conducted March 7-10 of 1,012 registered voters, and it has an overall margin of error of 3.1 percentage points.

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

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