- The Washington Times - Friday, June 26, 2009

SPECTER SLIP

Pennsylvania Sen. Arlen Specter’s conversion to the Democratic Party appears to have done little to help his re-election efforts, a new poll shows.

The senator’s positive job approval rating dropped to 34 percent in June compared with 52 percent in March — the month before he left the Republican Party — according to the results of a survey of potential Pennsylvania voters released Thursday by the Center for Opinion Research at Franklin and Marshall College.

Even more troubling for the senator is that the proportion of Keystone State residents who say he deserves re-election has declined to 28 percent in June from 40 percent in March.

Mr. Specter’s job performance ratings also have dropped among Republicans and independents.

“I think what he’s got going is the worst of both worlds,” said the poll’s director, G. Terry Madonna, in Thursday’s Philadelphia Daily News. “Republicans have fallen away from him because he left his party, and Democrats are unhappy with him for lots of different reasons … Voters have a lot of uncertainty about what he is likely to do.”

While the senator currently leads Rep. Joe Sestak among Democratic primary voters, 33 percent to 13 percent, almost half — 48 percent — remain undecided.

Mr. Madonna said Mr. Specter’s early primary lead is attributed mostly to an early advantage of having statewide name recognition.

Mr. Sestak “is literally an unknown quantity outside his own district,” he said. “There’s a certain amount of fluidity left in this race, and it’s up to Sestak to frame a campaign to take advantage of the situation, if he can.”

MR. HOLLYWOOD?

The Federal Election Commission failed to reach a decision Thursday on a request by Massachusetts Democratic Sen. John Kerry to use $300,000 from his campaign funds to invest in a documentary about injured Iraq war veterans.

The 2004 presidential nominee wants to be an executive producer for a movie tentatively titled “Keeping Faith,” by White Mountain Films, according to the Associated Press.

The senator would not be paid but could get up to a 120 percent return on his $300,000 investment, according to a March 16 letter he sent to the FEC outlining his plans.

Mr. Kerry’s efforts would include helping line up investors and obtaining interview subjects for the film.

George Butler, a longtime Kerry friend, made the film “Going Upriver: The Long War of John Kerry,” which was released during Mr. Kerry’s White House run against President George W. Bush five years ago. The movie chronicled Mr. Kerry’s military career as well as his efforts leading veterans who protested the Vietnam War after coming home.

The senator, who also has asked the Senate Ethics Committee for permission to use campaign funds to invest in the documentary, has $3.5 million in his campaign account and does not face re-election until 2014.

ADULTERY AFTERMATH

South Carolina state Sen. Tom Davis, a longtime friend of Gov. Mark Sanford, says the governor has a good chance of staying in office despite calls for his resignation after publicly admitting Wednesday to an extramarital affair with a woman from Argentina.

“I think that the South Carolina people have a tremendous capacity for forgiveness,” Mr. Davis said Thursday on CBS’ “Early Show.”

“Now, I think the South Carolina people also have a fine nose for hypocrisy. And so the next few days are going to tell the tale about whether or not Gov. Sanford is sincere in terms of taking responsibility for his actions — the pain he’s caused to people. And knowing the man that he is, I think he will make that case. And I think the South Carolina people will give him a chance.”

When asked directly by show anchor Harry Smith whether Mr. Sanford can survive politically despite admitting to adultery, Mr. Davis responded, “sure.”

“We all move forward. We all sin. We fail. You repent. Hopefully, there’s reconciliation. As I said before, that depends upon the sincerity of the reconciliation. And I think this governor has it in him to make that case.”

But Mr. Davis pointed out that the governor’s intent to stay in office “makes this extra complicated” given that Mr. Sanford, while serving in the U.S. House in the 1990s, called for the impeachment of President Bill Clinton over the Monica Lewinsky sex scandal.

LONG SHOT

Utah Republican Sen. Orrin G. Hatch said Thursday that the odds of Congress passing comprehensive health care overhaul legislation this year that President Obama would support is “pretty bad.”

“If you look at the so-called Kennedy bill in the Senate — now (Massachusetts Democratic Sen.) Ted Kennedy would never have come up with a bill like that. His staff did. But the first thing he would have done is called people like me and said, ‘Hey, can we get together, can we resolve these problems?’ And then he would, I think, work to resolve them,” Mr. Hatch said on MSNBC’s “Morning Joe” program.

“And he’s the only guy on the Democrats’ side that can bring together the, you know, the unions, the trial lawyers, et cetera, the five or six major groups that are major funders of Democrats in America. He’s the only one that can tell them, ‘This is the way we’re going to go.’ Nobody else has that kind of authority …”

Mr. Hatch said the best approach would be to use federal money to set up unique state-run health care systems - not a one-size-fits-all system for the entire country that is favored by Democrats

“Utah is different from Massachusetts, and yet they’re trying to impose a Massachusetts plan on every other state in the union. And it won’t work.

“And these are the type of things that just about drive me nuts sometimes around here.”

BAD TIMING

“Now that (South Carolina Gov.) Mark Sanford has admitted to adultery, the one thing everyone agrees about is that any chance he had to be elected president is gone,” writes Conor Friedersdorf at TheAltantic.com on Thursday.

“But that is pretty weird when you think about it, given that we’re a country that elected the obviously philandering Bill Clinton, re-elected him after [the Monica Lewinsky sex scandal], and gave the GOP nomination to John McCain, even though he cheated on his first wife, instead of Rudy Giuliani, who also cheated on at least one of his wives.

“These men are all guilty of shameful behavior, all were viable presidential candidates, and at least some of them were guilty of behavior far more egregious than Gov. Sanford, though the South Carolina governor is himself guilty of egregious behavior. Nor does this account for the presidents who’ve engaged in extramarital affairs throughout history. Should we have disqualified JFK? Maybe. But Thomas Jefferson? It seems that Gov. Sanford is disqualified largely due to bad timing.”

ALLY CAT

House Democratic Whip James E. Clyburn admitted Thursday on MSNBC that he also has a serious yet largely unknown passion: bowling.

The South Carolina lawmaker in fact is so proficient at smashing 10 pins that he has worked as a bowling instructor.

Bowling “is my better sport. People think it’s golf. I just love golf. But my better sport is, in fact, bowling,” Mr. Clyburn said.

While President Obama — a self described awful bowler — hasn’t asked him for help, Mr. Clyburn says he has a tip for the commander in chief to improve his game.

“If I’m ever given that opportunity, I think I can teach him a very unique — for a lefty — five-step approach that will increase his score dramatically,” he said.

• Sean Lengell can be reached at [email protected] washingtontimes.com.


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