- The Washington Times - Tuesday, May 26, 2015

The ever-expanding Republican presidential field continues to percolate. With a precision metalworks company as his backdrop, former Sen. Rick Santorum stepped out to announce his intentions late Wednesday afternoon, in a town 33 miles northeast of Pittsburgh. Yes, C-SPAN was there, always an indicator that the event is of note. Mr. Santorum will clarify a campaign message that could distinguish him from the GOP pack.

Sen. Santorum is excited to share his vision of helping hard-working American families achieve the American dream again,” spokesman Matt Beynon tells Inside the Beltway.

Such sentiment works for the candidate. The race to brand White House hopefuls with instantly recognizable traits and signature talking points is always intense. Mr. Santorum has some advantages. He is unapologetically faith-driven, pro-life and the author of “Blue Collar Conservatives.” The father of seven made a humble gray sweater-vest one of the symbols of his campaign during his last bid for the White House — way, way back in 2012. Oh, yes. Why it was only, what, 20 years ago? Seems like it.

Meanwhile, the rigors of campaign life call. Once his announcement is done, Mr. Santorum will spring immediately into active mode and depart for Iowa; with the support of the Iowa GOP, he’ll appear at the Machine Shed in Davenport, billed as a “restaurant supporting the American farmer” — and the specialty of the house is a prize-winning roasted, stuffed Iowa pork chop.

PATAKI: ROOM FOR ONE MORE, PART 2

Another 24 hours, and another Republican hopeful comes to call on American voters. George Pataki will announce his plans to run for president on Thursday morning; with a touch of drama, the former New York governor will journey to Exeter, New Hampshire, for his big reveal. The historic town of 9,242 was more or less the birthplace of the Republican Party, founded in 1853 right there in the local Squamscott Hotel. Exeter was also the location of a famous UFO sighting in 1965, but that’s another story.

Mr. Pataki, meanwhile, will make his 2016 intentions known at the Exeter Town Hall. A 6-foot-5 fiscal conservative and an advocate of “smaller, smarter government,” Mr. Pataki has already spelled out his beliefs via We the People, Not Washington — a month-old political action committee.

The next president, he says, must reduce the size, scope and cost of government, simplify the tax code, institute term limits for Congress and permanently ban retired lawmakers from lobbying.

“Defeating Islamic terror, shrinking government and growing the economy. These are the issues that matter most. Instead, we’re debating social issues like abortion and gay rights. They’re a distraction and will only help elect Hillary. After eight years of Obama-style socialism, we need to shrink government — not let big government tell us how to live our lives,” Mr. Pataki says in a new campaign video.

He also says the federal government must leave health care and education to the states and the citizenry, and has taken a hard line on terrorism, suggesting the U.S. must “proactively pursue terrorists” or risk another major attack on American soil.

“Our next president can’t begin with a worldwide apology tour. We need to take the fight to the terrorists directly,” says Mr. Pataki.

EMBRACING THE INNER PANTSUIT

There’s official, branded stuff for sale at Hillary Rodham Clinton’s presidential campaign website — surely a sign that the effort is powering up to speed. The online store features a quaint pillow with the motto “A woman’s place is in the White House” in cross-stitch, a handy tote, glassware and “I’m with Hillary” bumper stickers. Then there are two items that hark back to Mrs. Clinton’s identity of yore.

The $30, unisex-size, bright-red “Everyday Pantsuit Tee” looks like a blazer, complete with pearls, although “pantsuit bottoms are not included,” the shirt description sternly advises.

And for people actually dressed in a pantsuit, there’s the $15 red, white and blue Pantsuit Lapel Pin bearing Mrs. Clinton’s signature H-with-an-arrow logo — “something beautiful and meaningful you can wear everyday, everywhere,” the site advises.

THE WALKER, RUBIO, CARSON TRIUMVIRATE

Favorability of GOP presidential hopefuls goes up and down like the stock market. The newest pollster gauge reveals that Gov. Scott Walker has the edge at the moment, followed by Ben Carson — a candidate the mainstream press is aching to ignore — and Sen. Marco Rubio. This is all according to a new Vox Populi/Daily Caller poll of 1,008 Republican voters in Iowa, New Hampshire and South Carolina, who were asked to rate 14 GOP candidates.

Mr. Walker led with 10 percent, Mr. Carson garnered 9 percent, and Mr. Rubio nabbed 8 percent.

“The numbers, according to the pollsters who conducted the poll, indicate that Rubio and Walker are in strong positions as the race heats up, and Carson, who jumped in the race earlier this month, has staying power,” reports Daily Caller political reporter Alex Pappas.

Jeb Bush is next in line, followed by Mike Huckabee, Sens. Rand Paul, Ted Cruz and Lindsey Graham; Gov. Chris Christie, Rick Santorum, Rick Perry, Carly Fiorina; and Govs. John Kasich and Bobby Jindal. And most telling: 28 percent of the respondents were still undecided.

IN THE EYE OF THE BEHOLDER

Opinions differ after a federal court’s refusal Tuesday to lift an injunction on President Obama’s deportation amnesty. Differences were stark indeed.

“The courts continue to do what Congressional Democrats would not: hold President Obama accountable for following the law,” says Rep. Diane Black, Tennessee Republican. “We have three branches of government for a reason and, as today’s decision affirms, the president simply cannot circumvent a clearly established separation of powers to make up his own immigration laws on a political whim. This decision is an important victory for the rule of law and for every legal immigrant who is disrespected by the president’s unconstitutional amnesty.”

But this comes from Maru Mora-Villalpando of Seattle-based Latino Advocacy: “Once again politics are placed before people. The gains we won as undocumented and detained communities to pressure the Obama administration to act and stop at least some deportations last year are instead being used to play politics with our lives. President Obama should move ahead and expand relief regardless of politics, since our communities continue being rounded up, detained and separated from their families through the deportation machine.”

POLL DU JOUR

63 percent of chief financial officers in the U.S. plan to promote top performers to retain employees as the economy improves.

52 percent plan to raise salaries in the company to improve retention.

50 percent will increase investment in professional development or training programs.

48 percent will enhance employee benefits, such as health insurance or retirement packages.

30 percent will reinstate or increase bonuses among employees to improve retention.

21 percent have no specific plans to improve retention.

Source: An Accountemps poll of 2,200 CFOs from companies located in the 20 largest U.S. metropolitan areas, conducted throughout May and released Tuesday.

Exclamations and explanations to [email protected]

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