- The Washington Times - Thursday, October 30, 2014

It is not surprising that Condoleezza Rice has taken a shine to Joni Ernst. The former Secretary of State has endorsed the Republican hopeful for the U.S. Senate seat in Iowa - who also is a lieutenant colonel in the Army National Guard with some significant experience. She served as a company commander during Operation Iraqi Freedom, overseeing convoys through Kuwait and into southern Iraq throughout 2003, and her political philosophy remains in the can-do realm.

“We need leaders who know that America can’t lead from behind, because when you’re behind others, you’re really just following,” says Mrs. Ernst, whose poll numbers are quite promising as of Sunday.

So no wonder she has an adamant new fan.

“Joni Ernst has dedicated her life to the service of others, bravely leading troops in Iraq and safely bringing them home to Iowa. Now Iowans have an opportunity to make her the first female combat veteran to ever serve in the U.S. Senate,” says Ms. Rice. “We need more leaders, like Joni, who understand America’s role abroad and the threats posed against us.”

Mrs. Ernst has also made John Bolton‘s list of “national security” candidates who support a strong national defense and a feisty global profile. The former UN ambassador admires her “true Iowa values” and has already endorsed her, and contributed $10,000 to her campaign via his political action committee.

“Joni understands what it takes to lead and ensure that American values are represented at home and abroad,” Mr. Bolton says.

Ms. Rice is endorsing North Carolina House Speaker Thom Tillis for U.S. Senate, who appears to be somewhat of a “national security” candidate himself.

“America faces challenges both at home and abroad. We need leaders in Washington to address these issues head on,” she says.


Audiences loyal to NBC’s “Meet the Press” know that it is not the austere, heavyweight program it was in the days of the late Tim Russert, or the 10 other moderators that preceded him. There’s a new set, chatty moments, lots of analysis and glittering technology. The current moderator, Chuck Todd, and his producers are eager; change appears to be their mantra.

But they don’t seem to be capitalizing on the greatest asset of “Meet the Press” - its hard-won historic pedigree and authentic gravitas. This is, after all, the longest-running TV series in history: the first episode aired on Nov. 6, 1947. Imagine. The 67th anniversary is next week. While ratings between the Sunday talk shows on broadcast TV are very close, “Meet the Press” is currently in third place behind CBS’ “Face The Nation” and ABC’s “This Week.”

Someone else cites the stylish changes. That would be Comedy Central host Jon Stewart, who confirms that “MTP” producers approached him to join the cast following David Gregory‘s rather sudden departure from the lead chair in August.

“My guess is they were casting as wide and as weird a net as they could. I’m sure part of them was thinking, ‘Why don’t we just make it a variety show?’” Mr. Stewart tells Rolling Stone.

“I felt like that was one of those situations where someone says, ‘We really like what you do. Why don’t you come over here and do something different, maybe something you don’t do as well, for us?’ I can understand notionally where it comes from. News and entertainment have melded in a way. But they would be overcompensating on the entertainment side,” Mr. Stewart observes. “That’s certainly not an outlandish decision, although I don’t necessarily think that’s the best direction for it.”

Mr. Gregory, incidentally, has quietly re-emerged on public radar. He will anchor Yahoo’s midterm election coverage for an online broadcast, joining forces with former talk-show host Katie Couric, now Yahoo’s “global anchor.”


“The Ebola Handshake.”

— In the age of Ebola, an approved method of convivial greeting using elbows rather than hands to curb possible transmission of the virus, popular with such officials as National Security Adviser Susan E. Rice. But wait. The “Elevator Elbow” has been around for a few years — tapping a public elevator button or maneuvering a door handle with the elbow rather than the finger tip, again for sanitary reasons.


Veteran political observer Dick Morris is one strategist who hopes Mitt Romney will stay out of the 2016 presidential election.

“I don’t think we can carry the baggage that he has in the next election. I think it would be a real mistake for him to run, and I hope that he does not.

“You don’t want to have to rehab your candidate,” Mr. Morris said during an appearance Thursday night on Ora.tv’s “Politicking” with Larry King.

Jeb Bush has also piqued some interest.

“I think he may well run. And if he does, I think he has a very good chance of being the next president. A lot of people say, ‘Oh, another Bush?’ But if you’re going to have another Clinton, you might as well have another Bush. And I think that Jeb would be a very strong candidate,” Mr. Morris observed. “The Republican Party at core is a monarchical institution. It believes in legitimacy, and succession, and order and Bush The Third might be very attractive to many Republicans. On the other hand, I think his position on immigration is way out of sync. I think his position on immigration would hurt him badly in the party. The guy who I think really is an up-and-comer in this is Ted Cruz.”

Interesting. The Texas senator has his own feelings about such things.

“If we run another candidate in the mold of a Bob Dole or a John McCain or Mitt Romney, we will end up with the same result, which is millions of people will stay home on Election Day, which is what happened for all three of them. And if we run another candidate like that, Hillary Clinton will be the next president,” Mr. Cruz told CNBC.


Hispanic voters are vexed at the White House for delaying immigration reform until after the midterm elections Tuesday. Meanwhile, the American public suspects that political motivations are behind a delay in that start of open enrollment for Obamacare — scheduled for Oct. 15, delayed until Nov. 15. Do health administrators and information-technology gurus fear another glitch-filled experience for the uninsured? Perhaps. Yes, there are numbers.

“Over six out of ten Americans surveyed believe the administration’s political considerations were the reason for the delay of the enroll period until after the midterm elections,” reports a new Health Pocket poll released Thursday, revealing 63 percent agreed that “Yes, politics influenced the date change,” while 37 percent disagreed.


“Will the state of the U.S. economy affect your Halloween plans?” asked a recent National Retail Federation survey to some 6,300 respondents. The answer: 81 percent said dismal financial reports would not deter them from whooping it up Friday, and throughout the weekend.

The practical translation: Americans will spend $7.4 billion on Halloween this year, the industry group says — that includes $350 million that will go toward pet costumes. Yes. That was $350 million spent on pet costumes.


For those still keeping count, President Obama will visit four states in the next 48 hours, bound for fundraisers for three gubernatorial and one U.S. Senate hopeful. On Friday, Mr. Obama spends the night in Providence, Rhode Island, and will attend a large-scale rally at a local college before hopping back to the nation’s capital in time for the White House Halloween celebration. Vice President Joseph R. Biden, meanwhile, heads to San Diego for a private fundraiser for the Democratic National Committee.

On Saturday, the president travels to Detroit on behalf of Rep. Gary Peters and his bid for a U.S. Senate seat, plus Mark Schauer, Michigan gubernatorial hopeful. On Sunday, it’s off to Bridgeport, Connecticut, to support Gov. Dannel P. Malloy, then south to Philadelphia to benefit Tom Wolf and his campaign for governor, plus other Pennsylvania Democrats.


For sale: The White House Hotel, built in 1868 overlooking the Missouri River in historic Hermann, Missouri. Three stories, 12 bedrooms, six bathrooms, 14,000 square feet; original cast-iron balconies, carved stone keystones, ornate woodwork, period wallpaper and stoves, 16-foot ceilings, arched hallways, 12-inch-thick brick walls, wrap-around full balconies, many furnishings included. Saloon, full basement, wine cellar; can be commercial or private property. Priced at $1.4 million through www.CathyMorse.ReeceandNichols.com, property No. 120581


92 percent of Americans give Congress a negative review for job performance; 95 percent of Republicans, 85 percent of Democrats and 96 percent of independents agree.

64 percent overall say they are “absolutely certain” they will vote in the midterm elections; 72 percent of Republicans, 81 percent of Democrats and 67 percent of independents agree.

65 percent overall give the lawmakers in their own districts a negative rating; 66 percent of Republicans, 59 percent of Democrats and 72 percent of independents agree.

41 percent would vote for a Democrat if the election were today; 1 percent of Republicans, 89 percent of Democrats and 29 percent of independents agree.

39 percent would vote for a “moderate Republican”; 92 percent of Republicans, 3 percent of Democrats and 39 percent of independents agree.

Source: A Harris Poll of 2,205 U.S. adults conducted Oct. 15-20 and released Wednesday.

Happy talk, productive chatter to jharper@washingtontimes.com.

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