- The Washington Times - Wednesday, June 3, 2015

The chances are good that Gov. Scott Walker is going to jump on a Harley Davidson at Joni’s First Annual Roast and Ride, this organized by Sen. Joni Ernst — described by the lawmaker as a patriotic motorcycle ride across the Iowa countryside to honor military veterans with full police escort — followed by a “big pig roast” in the town of Boone. Seven GOP presidential hopefuls will be front and center for this bodacious event on Saturday, and Mr. Walker is one of them. Recall that his home state of Wisconsin is also home to Harley Davidson; he recently took the brand over to China, donned black leather and aviator sunglasses, revved up a hog and road into Shanghai himself to make the sale. So he may lead the line this time as well.

But will his rivals be up for the role of biker? Sens. Lindsey Graham and Marco Rubio as well as Ben Carson, Carly Fiorina, Mike Huckabee and Rick Perry are confirmed guests. Each and every one of them knows the value of a motorcycle photo-op; it worked very well for Sarah Palin at one point in her political career. Organizers are prepared, advising the press, “Accommodations will be made for media coverage during periods of the motorcycle ride.” There are no indicators of who’s riding, and who’s not. Mrs. Ernst — a lieutenant colonel in the Army National Guard with combat experience — is a rider herself, and ready to roll, in fact.

But then again, such photos could be an epic fail for many reasons as well. The 50-mile ride from a Harley shop near Des Moines to Boone would make for a rigorous day for candidates with much on their minds and multiple appearances. The featured speeches begin at 1 p.m. and go on for two hours. The event, meanwhile, has attracted serious local talent. Also on hand: Iowa Gov. Terry Branstad, Sen. Chuck Grassley and Reps. Steve King and David Young. And yes, there’s an official pig biker patch.

And should Mr. Walker join up with the ride, it certainly won’t be his first biker campaign moment. Prior to a National Governors Association convention two years ago, he arrived on his own Harley — roaring along in the company of Govs. John Hickenlooper, Phil Bryant, Mary Fallin and Gary Herbert. Yes, they also rode. And they got some very good press.

The press, incidentally, will be there. CNN’s chief Congressional correspondent Dana Bash will be guest hosting “State of the Union” from Iowa - and reports she will interview Sen. Ernst on Saturday from the event. Also on her list Sen. Tom Cotton plus Mssrs. Graham and Perry.


A match made in box office heaven? Could be. Warner Brothers has announced that Clint Eastwood will direct an upcoming feature film based on the life and times of airline pilot Chesley “Sully” Sullenberger, an authentic hero who ditched his successfully disabled jumbo jet in the Hudson River under unbelievable circumstances and saved the lives of all aboard. The screenplay will be based no Mr. Sullenberger’s memoir “Highest Duty: My Search for What Really Matters.”

Three creative teams are involved, and all have much praise for Mr. Eastwood..

“Simply put, Clint Eastwood is at the top of his game, not to mention a global treasure. On the heels of his extraordinary work in ‘American Sniper,’ it is tremendously exciting to see him explore the life of another captivating true-life hero,” says Greg Silverman, president of creative development for Warner Bros. Pictures.


“There’s something wrong when hedge fund managers pay lower tax rates than nurses or the truckers that I saw on I-80 as I was driving here over the last two days,” Hillary Rodham Clinton recently observed, while campaigning in full populist mode. “Something is wrong when CEOs earn more than 300 times than what the typical American worker earns and when hedge fund managers pay a lower tax rate than truck drivers or nurses,” she said.

Such talk earned the ire of one Leon Cooperman, founder of a hedge fund. The unapologetic billionaire complained to CNN that Mrs. Clinton “hangs out with all these people in Martha’s Vineyard and in the Hamptons and then the very first thing she has to say is to criticize hedge funds.”

But wait. On Friday, Mrs. Clinton journeys to scenic Greenwich, Connecticut for a fundraiser in the $29.7 million home of a hedge-fund heavyweight. Tickets start at $2,700. “Hedge-fund hater Hillary going to hedgie’s home for campaign cash,” concludes a New York Post headline.

“Hillary Clinton has penned yet another chapter in her autobiography of hypocrisy. While campaigning in Iowa, Hillary was primed to come after the hedge fund industry with a vengeance, but by the time she got to Greenwich, Connecticut her pitchfork and fiery rhetoric magically turned into an open wallet and a request for campaign cash,” declares Ian Prior, communications director for American Crossroads.


Things are complicated elsewhere in the Democratic pantheon. Martin O’Malley, now challenging Hillary Rodham Clinton in the presidential race, has had flirtations with some elite donors himself according to Fox Business Network correspondent Charlie Gasparino.

“Since at least the beginning of the year, O’Malley himself has eyed contributions from executives at several major Wall Street banks, according to people with direct knowledge of O’Malley’s fundraising. These people say in recent months, O’Malley met key officials from Morgan Stanley, and, according to O’Malley campaign officials, he is looking for contributions from what he considers ‘reformed minded bankers’ at other firms such as JP Morgan and even Goldman Sachs, whose chief executive Lloyd Blankfein was singled out by O’Malley in his announcement speech for having too much influence with Clinton,” says Mr. Gasparino

“It’s unclear how much — if any money — O’Malley has or will receive from the big banks; both his political action committee and his campaign have until July 15 to file contribution disclosures. While governor of Maryland, O’Malley received $559,000 from people and entities labeled ‘securities, investments’ and ‘commercial banks,’ according to disclosure forms,” says Mr. Gasparino.


The tea party still has much to say. And they are succinct about it.

“A few days ago, House Democratic Leader Steny Hoyer called for a pay raise for members of Congress. We’ve seen this movie before. And we know how it ends. The liberal Democrats take the lead in calling for a pay raise. Then, moderate Republicans in the House reluctantly go along with them. Hard-working taxpayers get stuck with the bill,” points out Jenny Beth Martin, co-founder of the Georgia-based Tea Party Patriots.

“According to Rep. Hoyer, not giving the politicians a pay raise, ‘will dictate that the only people who can serve are the rich, and I don’t think that’s what the Founding Fathers had in mind.’ This man is actually claiming that George Washington would want him to get a pay raise,” Mrs. Martin reasons, pointing out that lawmakers enjoy an annual salary of $174,000 — along with paid staffers, health care policies, cars, drivers, and other perks.

“These people are living like kings on our dime. And now they want more. Congress’s approval rating is currently at a pathetic 19 percent. The last thing these politicians deserve right now is a raise,” she concludes.


64 percent of Americans have a favorable opinion of George H.W. Bush; 87 percent of Republicans, 64 percent of independents and 45 percent of Democrats agree.

64 percent overall have a favorable view of Bill Clinton; 34 percent of Republicans, 63 percent of independents and 91 percent of Democrats agree.

56 percent overall have a favorable view of Jimmy Carter; 33 percent of Republicans, 54 percent of independents and 76 percent of Democrats agree.

52 percent overall have a favorable view of George W. Bush; 88 percent of Republicans, 51 percent of independents and 27 percent of Democrats agree.

49 percent have a favorable view of President Obama; 13 percent of Republicans, 43 percent of independents and 88 percent of Democrats agree.

Source: A CNN/ORC poll of 1,025 U.S. adults conducted May 29-31.

Petty grievances, major complaints to jharper@washingtontimes.com.

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