- The Washington Times - Friday, September 19, 2008

CAMPAIGN

Palin calls Biden ‘a great debater’

Republican vice-presidential candidate Sarah Palin said she expects a challenging debate next month when she faces a Democratic opponent who was elected to the Senate when she was a 8 years old.

“Senator [Joseph R.] Biden [Jr.] has tremendous amount of experience,” Mrs. Palin said in an interview that was scheduled to air Thursday on Fox News Channel’s “Hannity & Colmes.” “I think he was first elected when I was like in second grade. He’s been in there a long, long, long time.”

Mr. Biden, 65, was elected Delaware senator in 1972 at age 29. He turned 30 before taking office. He serves as chairman of Foreign Relations Committee and is a former chairman of the Judiciary Committee.

“So he’s got the experience,” Mrs. Palin said. “He probably has the sound bites. He has the rhetoric. He knows what’s expected of him. He is a great debater, also. So yes, it’s going to be quite a task in front of me.”

ALASKA

Rep. Young’s rival declines a recount

JUNEAU, Alaska | Lt. Gov. Sean Parnell said Thursday he will not seek a recount in the Republican primary for Alaska’s lone House seat, a race in which longtime incumbent Rep. Don Young defeated him by just 304 votes.

Mr. Parnell said he has a high degree of confidence in the Division of Elections, an agency he oversees.

“While a recount could change the outcome of this exceedingly close election - normal human error being what it is - such a result is unlikely. As such, I do not believe it justifies an expenditure of taxpayer funds,” Mr. Parnell said in a statement e-mailed to reporters and confirmed by campaign spokeswoman Cathy Giessel.

The primary was held Aug. 26. Mr. Young’s narrow victory was sealed when the final outstanding absentee and questioned ballots were counted Wednesday evening. Since the margin between the two was so close, the state would have paid for a recount.

Mr. Parnell said another factor in his decision not to seek a recount was Republican presidential candidate Sen. John McCain’s choice of Gov. Sarah Palin as his running mate. Mr. Parnell, who would become governor if Mrs. Palin becomes vice president, said he has found himself stepping in more for her for official state duties after she joined the campaign trail.

HOUSE

Kempthorne vows ethics cleanup

Interior Secretary Dirk Kempthorne pledged on Thursday to squelch the “ethics storm” exposed by investigators who said agency workers rigged bids, accepted gifts and had sex with energy company officials doing business with the government.

Mr. Kempthorne is considering firing eight employees still at the Minerals Management Service, putting in place a random drug-testing program and banning all employees in that division from receiving gifts and gratuities. A new attorney-adviser will focus on ethics.

“I can assure the committee that this process will be completed as swiftly as possible and we will examine the full spectrum of disciplinary actions, including termination,” Mr. Kempthorne told the House Natural Resources Committee.

The employees, all civil servants, are entitled to at least 30 days notice before being fired and are granted time to respond.

CAMPAIGN

Biden links taxes, patriotism

CANTON, Ohio | Democratic vice-presidential candidate Sen. Joseph R. Biden Jr. on Thursday said that paying higher taxes would be patriotic for wealthier Americans.

In an interview on ABC’s “Good Morning America,” Mr. Biden said wealthier taxpayers would indeed pay more under the proposals of Democratic presidential candidate Sen. Barack Obama. Under his plan, people earning more than $250,000 a year would pay more in taxes while those earning less would receive a check from the government, including millions who pay no federal tax.

“We want to take money and put it back in the pocket of middle-class people,” Mr. Biden said. Of those who would pay more, he said: “It’s time to be patriotic … time to jump in, time to be part of the deal, time to help get America out of the rut.”

COURTS

Stevens to get medical records

Sen. Ted Stevens of Alaska can probe the mental health of the government’s star witness in next week’s corruption trial against the longtime Alaska icon, a federal judge ruled Thursday.

U.S. District Judge Emmet Sullivan said government witness Bill Allen must turn over his medical records dealing with his 2001 motorcycle accident before testifying against Mr. Stevens, the Senate’s longest-serving Republican.

Mr. Stevens is to stand trial beginning Monday on charges of lying in Senate financial disclosure records about hundreds of thousands of dollars in gifts and home renovations he received from VECO Corp.

VECO employees normally build oil pipeline and processing equipment. But company workers also led the renovation of the senator’s home, a project that was overseen by Mr. Allen, a longtime Stevens friend.

POLITICS

Hagel disparages Palin’s experience

Nebraska Republican Sen. Chuck Hagel said his party’s vice-presidential nominee Gov. Sarah Palin lacks foreign policy experience and called it a “stretch” to say she’s qualified to be president.

“She doesn’t have any foreign policy credentials,” Mr. Hagel said in an interview published Thursday by the Omaha World-Herald. “You get a passport for the first time in your life last year? I mean, I don’t know what you can say. You can’t say anything.”

Could Mrs. Palin lead the country if Republican presidential nominee Sen. John McCain could not?

“I think it’s a stretch to, in any way, to say that she’s got the experience to be president of the United States,” Mr. Hagel said.

POLITICS

Rally nixes Palin after Clinton’s exit

The first political event to feature both Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton and Gov. Sarah Palin will now have neither.

Organizers of a rally next week in New York City against Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad announced Thursday that no politicians will appear at the event.

The collection of American Jewish groups putting the rally together angered Clinton aides by not telling them ahead of time that they also planned to have Mrs. Palin, the Alaska governor and Republican vice-presidential candidate.

Mrs. Clinton backed out Tuesday, as soon as she learned of the pairing.

Organizers said Thursday that they would have no “American political personalities” at the rally to keep the focus on Iranian threats.

From wire dispatches and staff reports

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