- The Washington Times - Monday, October 12, 2015

Even the host network is curious: CNN is watching to see if any Democratic presidential hopefuls will have a magic “Fiorina moment” on the glittering debate podium on Tuesday night under glaring lights and witnessed by millions. Indeed, GOP hopeful Carly Fiorina soared in the polls following her strong and consistent appearances in two previous Republican debates. The four foes of front-runner Hillary Rodham Clinton are hoping for the same experience — provided Vice President Joseph R. Biden does not leap into the bout at the last moment. The dynamics would change instantly. It could happen. CNN political correspondent Jim Acosta has revealed that the network has a spare podium named “No. 6” in waiting should Mr. Biden bustle in, providing a boost for ratings and fodder for pundits.

But back to that magic Fiorina moment.

Some some say it could be Jim Webb who will distinguish himself during the prime-time debate. He is both outsider and a political hybrid, considered a populist and centrist — a combat veteran who once served in the Reagan administration and describes himself as “unbought and unbossed.” The Washington Post has deemed him the potential “wild card” at the debate, while MSNBC suggested he could “shake up” things. Mr. Webb brings along a bristling resume. He has done many things and, like Donald Trump, has navigated a productive path through a media-driven world.

The former U.S. senator from Virginia was also a Marine company commander in Vietnam who was awarded the Navy Cross, the Silver Star, two Bronze Stars and two Purple Hearts. He went to law school, became a counsel to Congress, a Harvard University scholar, an assistant secretary of defense, secretary of the Navy, an Emmy award-winning journalist, a filmmaker, the author of 10 books and father to six children. He says he is pro-choice but still sounds like a grass-roots Republican.

“Outside my faith and my family, my greatest love will always be for this amazing country that for more than 200 years has given so many people the opportunity to have a good life, raise a family, live in freedom and achieve their dreams,” Mr. Webb said upon announcing his run for the White House three months ago.

“Webb is the most conservative candidate in this race, and could land a punch or two on Clinton,” predicts Fran Coombs, managing editor of Rasmussen Reports, the national pollster. “But that’s more likely to please GOP voters than those who will actually decide the nominee for the Democratic Party.”

BECAUSE IT’S TRUMP-LESS?

“I don’t think they will do great. I think people are going to turn it on for a couple of minutes and then fall asleep.”

— Republican front-runner Donald Trump’s prediction about CNN’s ratings for the aforementioned presidential debate on Tuesday night, as told to Fox News

BECAUSE THEY’RE CURIOUS

One observer predicts the CNN debate will draw a reasonably healthy audience. The event is not likely to generate the record-busting 24 million viewers who tuned in to the GOP debate on Fox News. It will be more like 10 million, says Joe Concha, a Mediaite analyst, with front-runner Hillary Rodham Clinton both the centerpiece and primary target.

“Despite Hillary being seen in more of a negative than positive light, there still is a curiosity factor around her candidacy, and for all the wrong reasons. More than a few folks who vote Republican will be tuning in to CNN on Tuesday not to hear talking points on policy positions, but to hear Mrs. Clinton try to explain away her version of Etch A Sketch on pretty much every issue,” Mr. Concha says.

“Some will also watch to see if any of the others on stage — particularly Bernie Sanders — will finally go directly after Hillary on everything from her flip-flops and indecision on the Trans-Pacific Partnership and Keystone pipeline, respectively, to her private email server ‘mistake’ and ethical shortcomings around the Clinton Foundation,” the analyst says.

HAPPY BIRTHDAY, MRS. THATCHER

Tuesday would have been the 90th birthday of Margaret Thatcher, a moment not overlooked by the Heritage Foundation. In conjunction with The Anglosphere Society, the organization offers a forum centered upon the prime minister’s “character, her commitment, and her challenges,” distinguished guests included. They are John O’Sullivan, a special adviser and speechwriter to Thatcher; Alice Prochaska, principal, Somerville College Oxford, United Kingdom; Edwin Meese, counselor to Ronald Reagan and former U.S. attorney general; Nile Gardiner, moderator of the event and director of the Margaret Thatcher Center for Freedom at Heritage; and Amanda Bowman, founder of The Anglosphere Society.

The event can be seen live online at 4 p.m. at Heritage.org. The ever-vigilant C-SPAN will also cover the big doings.

A VISIT TO THE GARDEN

A delicate reminder that the White House is a historic and hallowed site. Its amazing gardens will be opened to the public this weekend, including the Jacqueline Kennedy Garden, Rose Garden, the South Lawn and White House Kitchen Garden — the first vegetable plot on the premises since Eleanor Roosevelt sowed a Victory Garden during World War II. The National Park Service will distribute free tickets to the public on a first-come, first-serve basis Saturday and Sunday. Then there is the delicate reminder that the White House is also a very secure area.

“Please note the following items are not allowed on the White House grounds,” the Park Service advises. And the list:

“Tablets, iPads, tripods, monopods, or selfie sticks; video recorders; all bags, including purses, backpacks, or suitcases; animals other than service/guide dogs; bicycles, folding chairs, umbrellas with metal tips, balloons, coolers, glass, thermal or metal containers; signs or flags of any kind, any pointed object(s), including pocket knives; diaper bags; food, liquids, aerosols, tobacco products, lighters; firearms, ammunition, fireworks, laser pointers, stun guns/tasers, mace/pepper spray, toy weapons or knives of any kind.”

ONE-PARTY PREFERENCE

“In a shift from last year, Republicans now clearly prefer having one party control Congress and the presidency, as opposed to favoring divided party control or saying it makes no difference. Forty percent of Republicans favor one-party control, up from 24 percent last year,” reports Gallup Poll analyst Jeffrey M. Jones, who notes that, among Democrats, the number is 43 percent; among independents, it’s 23 percent. Among Americans overall, a third favor a one-party government, Gallup found.

“A substantial percentage of Americans do not see either one-party or divided control as better than the other. Whether that reflects their own evaluations of how the government has performed under divided versus unified government, or just a more cynical view of government, is unclear,” Mr. Jones notes.

POLL DU JOUR

46 percent of Americans say it is a “bad time” to invest in stocks; 33 percent say it is a good time to invest.

42 percent of Americans say the U.S. economy is “fair”; 23 percent say it is good or excellent, and 33 percent say the economy is poor.

40 percent expect their wages to rise by an average of 4 percent in the next year.

39 percent say real estate is the top investment choice; 25 percent say gold is the top investment, and 21 percent say stocks.

32 percent say the economy will get worse; 22 percent say it will get better.

Source: A CNBC survey of 800 U.S. adults conducted Oct. 1-4 and released Monday.

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