- The Washington Times - Monday, September 1, 2008

The antiwar group Code Pink hasn’t escaped recent actions by law enforcement targeting protesters at the Republican National Convention.

Group spokeswoman Jean Stevens says a Code Pink vehicle was searched by authorities about 3 a.m. Sunday. Ms. Stevens said the bright-pink Winnebago bears the slogan “War is not green” and was parked on a street in Minneapolis. Officers cited complaints about a suspicious vehicle in the area, and searched the RV, but “didn’t take anything that we know of,” she said.

However, a spokeswoman at the Joint Information Center - a coordinated law enforcement hub during the convention - said she had no information about any search of a Code Pink Winnebago.

The search follows a series of law enforcement raids during the past few days that have targeted members of the anarchist organizing body the RNC Welcoming Committee. Ms. Stevens said other activists aren’t deterred by the raids and searches, but called the actions “disheartening.”

“We almost wonder if this is a sign of what’s to come … whether this is real or setting the tone for this week,” she said

Cindy McCain rebuts elitism charge

Cindy McCain defended her husband Sunday from charges of elitism by the campaign of Sen. Barack Obama, saying she was “offended” by repeated suggestion that her husband is out of touch with most Americans because of the family’s seven homes.

“My husband was a Navy boy. His father and mother were in the Navy. I mean, there’s nothing elitist about that,” she said. “I’m offended by Barack Obama saying that about my husband.”

Mrs. McCain, a beer heiress who is far wealthier than her husband, also signaled she’d want to focus on humanitarian crises as first lady, talking about her meetings in Georgia last week with refugees of the recent Russian invasion.

Georgia “is a wonderful, young democracy,” she said in an interview on ABC’s “This Week.” “We can’t let it go. We can’t let a country come back in and take it back down to a Soviet-style government. This is democracy, and that’s what we’re all about.”

She added: “The United States is the best at what we do. We’re the ones that give the most and give the earliest, every time something happens. And I’d like to continue that, and also encourage others to get involved. You don’t have to cross an ocean to be of help.”

TV switches focus away from GOP

Television networks rapidly shifted focus and personnel away from the Republican National Convention to Gulf Coast communities in the path of Hurricane Gustav on Sunday, wondering how much of their political planning will be for naught.

Anchors Charles Gibson of ABC, Katie Couric of CBS, Brian Williams of NBC, Anderson Cooper of CNN and Shepard Smith of Fox News were all going to the New Orleans area for the storm instead of being with Republicans in St. Paul, Minn.

Whether they will be heading north at all depends on the strength of the storm at Monday’s expected landfall. President Bush and Vice President Cheney both canceled plans to be at the convention, and the Republican Party canceled all but the required business on Monday.

“We’re going to go with the biggest story of the day tomorrow,” said Jay Wallace, a news vice president at Fox News Channel, “and right now the biggest story of the day is the storm.”

Wolf Blitzer was anchoring CNN on Sunday from the nearly empty convention floor, yet he was talking mostly about the hurricane. Sunday on the cable networks would have otherwise been dominated by political stories - as it was the day before the Democratic National Convention last week in Denver - but much of the political talk this week concerned the storm’s impact on Republicans.

Immigration to play little role in St. Paul

It’s the unmentioned issue - Democrats were nearly silent on immigration during their convention, and on Sunday the top House Republican said his party’s convention won’t say much about it either.

“Probably nothing,” Minority Leader John A. Boehner of Ohio told reporters. “In every election cycle, some issues rise to the top, and others fall to the wayside.”

The issue, which rocked the Senate in 2007, has fallen in importance in part because the election doesn’t offer voters much of a choice.

Both Democratic presidential nominee Barack Obama and presumptive Republican nominee John McCain share similar positions: Both men support a path to citizenship for illegal immigrants, though Mr. McCain now says that must come after border security, while Mr. Obama says they must be combined.

At the Democrats’ convention, several speakers did mention the issue, including Sen. John Kerry, who criticized Mr. McCain for backtracking from the broad bill the Republican wrote along with Sen. Edward M. Kennedy.

“Are you kidding? Talk about being for it before you’re against it,” he said.

From wire dispatches and staff reports

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