- The Washington Times - Monday, February 20, 2012

VEEP STAKES

Whether he likes it or not, Sen. Marco Rubio is still the darling in the vice-presidential derby, emerging time and again as the public’s favorite pick for second in command. The Florida Republican leads an expansive list of possibilities on a Fairleigh Dickinson University survey of registered Republican and independent voters that includes all the usual suspects — plus Glenn Beck, Herman Cain, “someone young,” “a Southerner.” and even former President Bill Clinton.

Indeed, Mr. Rubio is No. 1, followed by Rick Santorum, New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, Sarah Palin, Newt Gingrich, Rep. Ron Paul, Mitt Romney, Rep. Michele Bachmann, Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton and, rounding out the top 10, Texas Gov. Rick Perry. The free-wheeling poll drew more than 50 suggestions for vice-presidential possibilities from the respondents, who also cited Jesse Ventura, Mike Huckabee, Jon Huntsman Jr. and Condoleezza Rice, among others.

“The poll question was open-ended,” says political scientist and poll director Peter Woolley, who had promising words for the top three choices as well.

“Any time you place ahead of Sarah Palin, call yourself a winner. Her name recognition and presence are formidable,” Mr. Woolley adds.

GRAND OLD FRUGAL

The frugal Grand Old Party? The Republican National Committee is working on it.

“We raised an impressive $10.4 million in January, bringing our cash-on-hand total to $23.4 million,” says committee chairman Reince Priebus.

“Thanks to the generosity of our supporters and careful financial stewardship, we will have the resources to wage a competitive campaign against President Obama.”

He adds, “Since this time last year, we’ve also cut our outstanding debt by more than half, paying off another $1.2 million of it just last month. At the Republican National Committee, we are committed to running an effective and efficient operation that maximizes the use of every dollar.”

SANTORUM BREW

Despite his primary wins and positive poll numbers, there’s persistent talk that Republican presidential hopeful Rick Santorum has either peaked early or will be mired in the left’s derision or Mitt Romney’s campaign trail prowess. Nonsense, insist tea partyers, who are still appreciative of the Santorum charm and “authenticity.”

And no wonder. Even with his expanding profile, Mr. Santorum still hustles to local tea party events. He’ll address the Tucson Tea Party on Wednesday just hours before CNN’s 21st presidential debate in Mesa, Ariz. Mr. Santorum also heads to the Liberty Forum in Tennessee on Saturday, hosted by the Chattanooga Tea Party. The effort does not go unnoticed, they say.

“So far, none of the current candidates seeking the Republican presidential nomination have convinced us that they will fully support a constitutionally limited government, fiscal responsibility, and free markets,” observes Michael Patrick Leahy, founder of the Election Day Tea Party, which represents some 30 regional groups and is organizing several similar events.

“Our project has invited all four candidates to join us at events celebrating the third anniversary of the tea party movement. So far, only Rick Santorum has accepted our invitation. His acceptance says that he wants to engage with us, and that he understands the tea partys get-out-the-vote power is the necessary ingredient to win the presidency.”

‘ASPIRIN AGENDA’

President Obama’s health care mandate requiring religious institutions to fund birth control quickly became talking points for the Democratic Party, which is eager to persuade the American public that (a) Republicans are against birth control (b) Republicans are against women, and (c) Republicans are archaic.

Now the issue has also become a fundraising tool, warning Democrats about the “aspirin agenda,” and the frightening GOPers behind it.

“I feel like I woke up this morning on the set of ‘Mad Men.’ Republicans have set their time machine for the 1950s back when, according to one prominent Republican, women could just ‘put aspirin between their knees’ to avoid getting pregnant. This after Republicans opened a hearing on birth control and banned women from testifying,” says Sen. Patty Murray of Washington state, in a Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee fundraising message.

Her plea worked. Some 65,000 supporters signed a petition “opposing the aspirin agenda,” she says.

“The response to Sen. Murray’s email was overwhelming. We shattered yesterdays one-day goal,” notes a follow-up message from the committee’s executive chairman Guy Cecil.

CONSUMER CORNER

Southwest Airlines, followed by Google, Hallmark, Dove, JetBlue, Kohl’s, Lexus, Target, Neutrogena and Crest.

(The Top 10 “most-desired brands” among women)

Southwest Airlines, followed by Cadillac, BMW, Dove, Bed Bath & Beyond, Apple, Google, Sharp, General Electric and Macy’s.

(The top-10 “most-desired brands” among men)

Source: A survey of 4,000 U.S. adults by the “global strategic neuroinsight firm” Buyology, conducted Feb. 6-10.

POLL DU JOUR

• 32 percent of Americans say Iran is the “greatest enemy” of the U.S. today

• 37 percent of Republicans and 30 percent of Democrats agree.

• 23 percent overall cite China; 28 percent of Republicans and 18 percent of Democrats agree.

• 10 percent overall cite North Korea; 8 percent of Republicans and 10 percent of Democrats agree.

• 7 percent overall cite Afghanistan; 4 percent of Republicans and 11 percent of Democrats agree.

• 5 percent overall cite Iraq; 7 percent of Republicans and 2 percent of Democrats agree.

• 1 percent each overall cite “the United States itself,” Japan and Saudi Arabia.

Source: A Gallup Poll of 1,029 U.S. adults conducted Feb. 2-6 and released Monday.

Astute observations and churlish remarks to jharper@washingtontimes.com


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