- The Washington Times - Wednesday, May 6, 2009


Former Florida House Speaker Marco Rubio announced Tuesday that he will run for his state’s open U.S. Senate seat in 2010, setting up a possible Republican primary battle with popular Gov. Charlie Crist.

Mr. Rubio, who stepped down from the Florida Legislature last year because of term limits, is a darling among conservatives and considered by many a rising star nationally in the Republican Party. The dapper 37-year-old Cuban-American from Miami, one of the youngest speakers in state history, raised an impressive $250,000 in less than a month after launching an exploratory committee in March to test the electoral waters.

Mr. Rubio, speaking in a video on his campaign Web site, said he is running because the federal government has grown too large and that Democrats have “used the tax system to distribute wealth.”

“But the majority of us don’t agree with that view, and we deserve a voice in American politics,” he added.

Mr. Rubio could have a formidable foe in Mr. Crist, who has been widely rumored to run next year for the seat now held by retiring Republican Sen. Mel Martinez.

In a state carried by President Obama last year, the Republican primary winner could face a strong Democratic opponent in Rep. Kendrick B. Meek, who already has a campaign war chest in excess of $1.6 million for a Senate run.


“Some hypocrisies are apparently more equal than others,” Wall Street Journal columnist William McGurn writes.

“If, for example, you are a politician who preaches ‘traditional values’ and you get caught in a hotel with a woman who is not your wife, the press is going to have a field day with your tartuffery,” Mr. McGurn said.

“If, however, you are a pol who piously tells inner-city families that public schools are the answer - and you do this while safely ensconcing your own kids in some private haven - the press corps mostly winks.

“[Wednesday] afternoon at 1 o’clock in Washington, we’ll learn if anything has changed. Two groups - D.C. Children First and D.C. Parents for School Choice - are holding a rally at Freedom Plaza, just across from the offices of the city government. As their flier explains, ‘D.C. families deserve the same kind of choices that the mayor, City Council members, and federal leaders with children have.’

“The precipitate cause of this rally is the Democrats’ passage of an amendment tucked into the omnibus spending bill. Sponsored by Sen. Richard Durbin, Illinois Democrat, the amendment effectively ended the Opportunity Scholarship Program, a lifeline now used by more than 1,700 schoolchildren to escape one of America’s most miserable public school systems. Rally organizers say that the silence from local leaders was a big reason the Democratic Congress felt free to kill off the program.

” ‘This rally is the first step in what is the biggest civil rights issue for this community,’ says Kevin P. Chavous, a former D.C. Council member who is one of the organizers. ‘We intend to show that there is huge support for this locally, that this support is growing and that we’re not going away.’

“It ought to make for an interesting event. In addition to Mr. Chavous and former Mayor (and current D.C. Council member) Marion Barry, speakers will include former Mayor Anthony Williams - whose leadership played a pivotal role in establishing the Opportunity Scholarships five years ago. Mr. Chavous also says there will be figures from black entertainment, as well as moms and dads and schoolchildren.”


“He admits that it’s counterintuitive, but Gallup Poll Editor Frank Newport says he sees no evidence that Al Gore’s campaign against global warming is winning,” Paul Bedard writes in the Washington Whispers column at www.usnews.com.

” ‘It’s just not caught on,’ says Newport. ‘They have failed.’ Or, more bluntly: ‘Any measure that we look at shows Al Gore’s losing at the moment. The public is just not that concerned.’

“What the public is worried about: the economy. Newport says the economy trumps the environment right now, a strong indicator that President Obama’s bid to put a cap-and-trade pollution regime into operation isn’t likely to be politically popular.

“That’s not to say people aren’t passionate about the issue. But it’s the direction of their passion that will disappoint Gore. Newport says that some 41 percent believe global warming claims are exaggerated, and ‘that’s the highest we’ve seen.’ Ask people to name their biggest concerns, and just 1 percent to 2 percent cite the environment. ‘The environment doesn’t show up at all,’ says Newport.

” ‘It’s Al Gore’s greatest frustration,’ says Newport. ‘We seem less concerned than more about global warming over the years. … Despite the movies and publicity and all that, we’re just not seeing it take off with the American public. And that was occurring even before the latest economic recession.’

“He adds: ‘As Al Gore I think would say, the greatest challenge facing humanity … has failed to show up in our data.’ ”


Some conservatives fear that Sen. Orrin G. Hatch, Utah Republican, is allowing himself to be sweet-talked by President Obama.

“Alas, Sen. Hatch, my old boss, seems very eager to repeat his awful mistake from 16 years ago, when he pre-cleared President Clinton’s nomination of Ruth Bader Ginsburg before I or anyone else had the opportunity to do a serious review of her record. Are you really content with how that one turned out, senator?” Ed Whelan writes in a blog at National Review Online (www.nationalreview.com).

“Bloomberg reports that Hatch is crowing that President Obama ‘told him he won’t nominate a “radical or an extremist” to replace’ Justice David H. Souter. Well, gee, golly, if Obama said that, how could anyone not believe him?” Mr. Whelan said.

“What’s needed, now more than ever, is a vigorous public debate over the proper role of the courts. The confirmation process for a Supreme Court justice provides the best vehicle for that debate. But that debate won’t happen if Hatch and other Republicans pre-emptively roll over and play dead.”

• Greg Pierce can be reached at 202/636-3285 or [email protected] times.com.

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