- The Washington Times - Wednesday, April 13, 2016

There are two reasons why Democratic front-runner Hillary Clinton raises mighty amounts of money for her campaign: Relentless volume and star power — both the Hollywood and political variety. Consider that there are 28 private campaign fundraisers this week alone for the Mrs. Clinton in nine states, the District of Columbia and China. Yes, China. There are two events, one in Beijing, the other in Hong Kong. The real eye opener takes place in San Francisco on Friday, however. Hosted by actor George Clooney and wife Amal, the tickets for the fundraiser are $353,400 a couple.

Mrs. Clinton herself appears at a number of the events, as does former President Bill Clinton and the expecting Chelsea Clinton, who advises her audiences that her obstetrician has cleared her to participate. Also playing host for the Clinton campaign this week: longtime adviser John Podesta, former CIA operative Valerie Plame, Virginia Gov. Terry McAuliffe, former ambassador to the Bahamas and philanthropist Arthur Schechter, plus billionaire entrepreneur and environmentalist Kimbal Musk.


Excruciating details are a mainstay in modern politics, something that Republican hopeful John Kasich discovered when he dined at Gino’s Pizza in Queens, New York and proceeded to eat his pepper-embellished pie with a knife and fork. “Using a fork just makes you look like a nerd. A guy who eats pizza with a fork is the guy at the accounting firm that the other accountants make fun of,” noted GQ Magazine writer Jack Moore in the aftermath.

But it looks like New York voters don’t really care.

“John Kasich may get clobbered in New York next week, but it won’t be because of pizza. 55 percent of voters in the state say they think it’s acceptable to eat pizza with a fork, to only 33 percent who think it’s unacceptable,” says Tom Jensen, director of Public Policy Polling, which surveyed 1,403 New York voters to find this out.


All three Republican hopefuls will don their black tie attire and head for the annual New York State Republican Gala on Thursday evening, staged at a glittering hotel not far from Grand Central Station in New York City. On hand: front-runner Donald Trump, Sen. Ted Cruz and Gov. John Kasich; the guest of honor is New Mexico Gov. Susana Martinez, the hosts Ed Cox, chairman of the New York Republican State Committee, and Arcadio Casillas, finance chairman of same. Yes, C-SPAN will be there, beginning at 7:30 p.m. ET.


Some Republican heavyweights will gather at the U.S. Capitol on Thursday to parse out the nation’s taxes, and the hair-raising implications therein. It’s the Americans for Tax Reform’s Annual “Tax Day Eve” press conference, to be hosted by the organization’s president Grover Norquist.

“After six years of gridlock, the public debate this year will determine if tax reform happens or not. While the details are yet to be determined, the direction of taxes will be set this fall for the next decade — up or down?” Mr. Norquist asks.

Here’s who will be in attendance: Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, House Majority Whip Steve Scalise, Sens. Orrin Hatch and Rand Paul, plus Reps. Peter Roskam, Charles Boustany, Virginia Foxx, Jim Jordan and Rep. Bill Flores, chairman, Republican Study Committee.

Among the topics of interest for this august group: tax reform, IRS accountability, gun taxes. Democratic front-runner Hillary Clinton has endorsed a new national 25 percent retail sales tax on guns.

“The Left is now seeking to tax guns out of existence. The Second Amendment makes it difficult to legally ban guns, but Hillary has led the way to explaining you can achieve the same thing with high taxes,” notes Mr. Norquist.


“Happy bday TJ. Sorry we have made such a mess of your fine founding documents.”

— American Conservative Union president Matt Schlapp, reflecting in a tweet on the birthday of Thomas Jefferson, which was Wednesday.


The aforementioned Mr. Norquist will also appear at a similar event staged by Let Freedom Ring, also at the Capitol, and also meant to draw attention to the nation’s bulky tax code and the need for reform. On the speaker’s roster: Colin Hanna, president of the liberty-minded policy group, plus Republican Reps. Bob Goodlatte, Peter Roskam, Tim Huelskamp, Andy Harris, John Ratcliffe, Dan Newhouse and Jody Hice.

“Tax Day is on Monday, and Congress can’t be trusted to get beyond partisan bickering and use the current code as a starting point to reform,” says Mr. Hanna. “Americans know that the current code is too complex and riddled with special interests, unfair loopholes, and inefficiencies. Americans need a tax code that is not only simpler, but also fairer.”

See the groups ideas here: SunsetTheTaxCode.com


Republican presidential front-runner Donald Trump continues to bolster his campaign staff. He announced Wednesday that he had hired Rick Wiley as national political director to oversee the campaign’s complex statewide field operations. Mr. Wiley previously managed Gov. Scott Walker’s campaign for the White House, and also served as political director for the Republican National Committee.

“Rick is a seasoned political expert with a very successful career in winning elections. He brings decades of experience, and his deep ties to political leaders and activists across the country will be a tremendous asset as we enter the final phase of securing the nomination,” Mr. Trump said.

The candidate has done much with less. One recent count placed Mr. Trump’s national staff at 94 people, compared to Democratic rival Hillary Clinton with 596. Mr. Wiley joins Paul Manafort, another new hire and veteran strategist who Mr. Trump brought on last week to manage the overall campaign.


95 percent of U.S. voters age 50 and older say that presidential hopefuls should lay out their plans for Social Security.

82 percent say that a plan for Social Security is an indicator of “presidential leadership.”

76 percent say that a candidate’s take on Social Security will help determine their vote.

71 percent say that their personal finances have been affected by political gridlock in Washington.

Source: An AARP/Hart Research survey of 1,659 U.S. voters over age 50 conducted Feb. 27-March 6 and released Wednesday.

Balderdash and ballyhoo to jharper@washingtontimes.com.

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