Monday, September 12, 2005

God before GOP

We’ve learned of a major shake-up at the Washington-based National Black Republican Association, with six of the 10 NBRA board members resigning in recent days over various disagreements.

“The organization and its current leadership is heading down a much different direction than was envisioned by myself and the other board members,” says Christopher R. Arps.

Similarly, the Rev. Eric M. Wallace, chairman of the African American Republican Council of Illinois and a candidate for lieutenant governor, writes in a resignation letter obtained by Inside the Beltway:

“If you guys decide to formulate another organization based on actually helping our people, let me know. If you choose people with a servant’s heart, then I am in. I serve because of my relationship with my Savior. I am a Christian first, a father second, a minister and scholar third, and a black man fourth, and then a Republican. Heaven help me if I ever get these out of order.”

Three resigning board members, we’re told, frowned on signing a “statement of commitment” sent to them by NBRA Chairman Frances Rice, concluding with: “My failure to sign this statement confirms that I am not a member in good standing of the NBRA and am not eligible to be an officer in the NBRA or a member of the NBRA Board of Directors.”

Board member Bill Calhoun, in a memo to Ms. Rice also obtained by this column, wrote: “Regarding your request for me to sign a letter of commitment, is this being requested of all board members? This appears discriminatory.”

Meanwhile, there also were questions surrounding approval of the latest news release issued by the NBRA, praising President Bush‘s leadership after Hurricane Katrina.

“President Bush is to be commended for deploying all of the resources of the federal government to help the refugees,” Ms. Rice stated in the release.

Hurricane Haley

Like the resulting popularity that 9/11 handed former New York Mayor Rudolph W. Giuliani, Hurricane Katrina similarly has shined the national spotlight on Mississippi Gov. Haley Barbour.

So much so that Mr. Barbour, former chairman of the Republican National Committee, is now ranked third among Republicans — behind Sen. George Allen, a former governor of Virginia, and Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney — in the 2008 White House Power Rankings, as posted by the Jockey Wire at

“There is no easy way to say it,” it states. “Despite the disaster and carnage of Hurricane Katrina, she has been a political gift to the affable Mississippi governor. In contrast to his counterpart in Louisiana, Barbour has earned rave reviews for his handling of the crisis. And … he cannot ignore the fact that he suddenly looks more presidential than ever.”

As for the remaining GOP horses, Mr. Allen “holds steady at No. 1”; Mr. Romney “is practically drowning in ink these days”; the fourth-place Mr. Giuliani “is still the man to beat”; and Arizona Sen. John McCain, running fifth, is gearing up to run a “much more aggressive, front-loaded campaign” than in 2000.

Rounding out the top 10 are Colorado Rep. Tom Tancredo, Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist, South Carolina Gov. Mark Sanford, Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee and Pennsylvania Sen. Rick Santorum.

As for former House Speaker Newt Gingrich?

“The ultimate wild card,” says the wire.

On the Democratic side, New York Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton “is so far ahead that she earns an extra spot” — ranked both No. 1 and No. 2. However, if “Hillary isn’t careful, she’ll have to change her voter registration to Republican,” the wire states.

“The insanely ambitious New York senator continues to move right while taking timely jabs at the president in order to please her peeps to the left,” it notes, including her recent move to break up the Department of Homeland Security in response to Katrina.

Other Democratic front-runners: New Mexico Gov. Bill Richardson, Virginia Gov. Mark Warner, Indiana Sen. Evan Bayh, Iowa Gov. Tom Vilsack, 2004 vice-presidential candidate John Edwards, Illinois Gov. Rod R. Blagojevich, Delaware Sen. Joseph R. Biden Jr., and Democratic National Committee Chairman Howard Dean.

Massachusetts Sen. John Kerry gets a few votes, while Illinois Sen. Barack Obama is more of a “major threat in 2012.”

Path to peace

In an effort to open a dialogue with youth on peace, tolerance and interfaith coexistence, Jordan’s visiting King Abdullah II and his wife, Queen Rania, today will meet with a group of students and teachers from Banneker High School, the Hebrew Academy, International Saudi Academy and Cardozo Senior High School.

The Jordanian Embassy tells us the king’s visit to Washington will focus on the “intra-Islamic, interfaith initiative” Jordan is leading, the aim being to build bridges of peace and understanding. His address this afternoon at Catholic University is titled “Traditional Islam: the Path to Peace.”

• John McCaslin, whose column is nationally syndicated, can be reached at 202/636-3284 or

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