Tuesday, June 29, 2004

Defending Rush

Rep. Sam Johnson, Texas Republican, is fighting to remove a provision from the 2005 Department of Defense authorization bill that he says is an attempt by Democrats to jeopardize the airing of Rush Limbaugh’s show to American troops overseas.

Democrats “can’t seem to resist any attack against any conservative,” Mr. Johnson said, “and, of course, Rush is sort of the epitome of the conservatives.”

Sen. Tom Harkin, Iowa Democrat, added a provision to the Senate version of the defense bill a few weeks ago that would call on the defense secretary to ensure that the American Forces Radio and Television Services (AFRTS) provides “balanced” political programming.

AFRTS receives federal funds to provide radio and television shows to American service members worldwide. But Mr. Harkin said the organization provides no countercommentary to the “extreme right-wing views” on Mr. Limbaugh’s radio show.

“There is no reason that American service members should receive lengthy right-wing commentaries … without some balance from competing views as part of that same service,” Mr. Harkin said in a speech June 17.

The House and Senate each has passed a version of the defense bill, which must be melded into a final bill. Mr. Johnson sent a letter over the weekend to Rep. Duncan Hunter, California Republican and chairman of the House Armed Services Committee, urging him to strip Mr. Harkin’s language.

Mr. Johnson said AFRTS provides listeners with a range of political commentary and simply includes Mr. Limbaugh’s show because troops like it. But more than that, he said, Congress should not be telling news organizations what to do.

“Sounds a little like communism to me,” he said.

Tax promises

Get ready for higher taxes if Democrats take over. That is what Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton, New York Democrat, told San Francisco residents this week.

At a fund-raiser for fellow Democrat Sen. Barbara Boxer of California, Mrs. Clinton told hundreds of Democratic supporters that they can expect to lose some of the Bush tax cuts if Democrats gain control of Washington next year, the Associated Press reported.

“Many of you are well enough off that … the tax cuts may have helped you,” Mrs. Clinton said. “We’re saying that for America to get back on track, we’re probably going to cut that short and not give it to you. We’re going to take things away from you on behalf of the common good.”

Friends now

Former Vermont Gov. Howard Dean is shown this week in a photograph circulated by the Associated Press, proudly displaying a “Deaniacs for Kerry” button he wore as he campaigned Monday for one-time rival, Sen. John Kerry of Massachusetts — the presumed Democratic presidential nominee.

The fiery Mr. Dean — who was the early front-runner among several Democratic presidential candidates before losing that lead and dropping out — has said his goal is to have all of his supporters vote for Mr. Kerry in November.

The photo, taken by Michael Moore of the Keene Sentinel, shows Mr. Dean displaying the button at a fund-raiser for Mr. Kerry Monday at Keene State College in New Hampshire.

Florida horse race

President Bush and Sen. John Kerry are running neck and neck in the battleground state of Florida, a new poll shows.

Mr. Bush and Mr. Kerry, Massachusetts Democrat, each got support from 43 percent, with independent Ralph Nader gathering support from 5 percent in a telephone poll taken June 23-27 by the Quinnipiac University Polling Institute of Connecticut, the Associated Press reported yesterday.

Without Mr. Nader, Mr. Kerry’s number bumps up to 46 percent and Mr. Bush’s number rises slightly, to 44 percent. The poll, of 1,209 registered Florida voters, has a margin of error of plus or minus three percentage points.

“Both Bush and Kerry have sharply polarized the Florida voters,” Quinnipiac’s Clay Richards said. “At this stage in the campaign, Florida voters don’t like either of the candidates very much.”

Kennedy crash

“The good news: Sen. Edward M. Kennedy [Massachusetts Democrat] wasn’t driving. The bad news: His driverless minivan crashed into three other parked cars, including that of Sen. Rick Santorum [Pennsylvania Republican], near one of the entrances to Dirksen last Thursday morning,” reports Mary Ann Akers of Roll Call.

Mr. Kennedy’s driver dropped off the senator at the First and C street entrance to the Dirksen Senate Office Building, according to the Roll Call story, and was about to drive off when Mr. Kennedy’s office called, saying they needed the senator right away. The unnamed, twentysomething aide jumped out of the minivan to get Mr. Kennedy and give him the phone.

“Unfortunately, he forgot to put the car in park,” Ms. Akers reports. “Kennedy’s blue Chrysler Town & Country went merrily careening along, hitting Santorum’s and two other parked SUVs (we’re not sure whose, but they didn’t belong to senators). Damage to Santorum’s Chevy TrailBlazer was only ‘cosmetic,’ a source said.

Graham says no

A Republican congressional candidate in North Carolina agreed yesterday to pull TV ads and campaign materials showing him with evangelist Franklin Graham, the Associated Press reports.

The move came after Mr. Graham, son of the Rev. Billy Graham, wrote candidate Ed Broyhill a letter saying the materials were “misleading the public with regard to our relationship and my position in this race — which is neutral.”

Mr. Graham also chastised the campaign for not responding after he issued a press release on June 17 saying he was not endorsing anyone in the 5th District congressional race.

Broyhill campaign manager Kim Hutchens said the campaign never claimed that Mr. Graham had endorsed Mr. Broyhill, but said “we will abide by his wishes” because “we value his friendship and support.”

Mr. Broyhill is seeking the seat in northwestern North Carolina now held by Rep. Richard M. Burr, a Republican who is running for the U.S. Senate.

• Amy Fagan can be reached at 202-636-3194 or afagan@washingtontimes.com

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