First, Newt Gingrich said he wouldrunforpresidentin2008only if no other Republican emerged as a clear front-runner. Now, the formerHousespeakersayshewillrun only as a “last resort.”
His assessment came in response to a question by Chris Wallace, host of “Fox News Sunday.”
“You sound as if you think about running for president as a last resort, not as a first resort?” Mr. Wallace asked.
“Exactly,” Mr. Gingrich answered. “I mean, nobody’s ever said it quite that way, but you’re right.”
Mr. Gingrich said he first hoped to influence the presidential race by providing candidates in both parties with his “solutions” to problems such as health care, energy, education, national security and immigration.
“If, in that process, it becomes necessary to run, then I’ll run,” Mr. Gingrich said.
“Last resort, not first resort?” Mr. Wallace repeated. “Last resort,” Gingrich replied. Mr. Gingrich said last month that it would not be too late for him to enter the race after Labor Day, if he thought no candidate had a clear advantage.
Fear of leaks
Theprocedurehaschangedwhen it comes to revising the president’s State of the Union Address, Peggy Noonandiscoveredinaconversation with an administration official.
“I asked the administration official how the speech looks. He said he’d only seen part of it, that each agency now receives for review only the section of the speech that is pertinent to it. This surprised me. In the Reagan White House, the whole speech was sent out to the agencies. This caused problems of its own — a poet at Treasury might accidentally rewrite American foreign policy — but it allowed the speech to emerge with a certain definable character,” Miss Noonan wrote at www.opinionjournal.com.
“The change suggested two things. One is that the new way might account for the increased choppiness of such addresses over the years. It’s hard to maintain a flow if each section bears different marks. The other is that the administration must be very anxious about leaks, worried that the guy in the Office of Management and Budget will leak the foreign-affairs section or the guy in Commerce will leak the references to immigration. It’s difficult to run a government when you have to operate with such anxiety.”
Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton’s entry into the presidential race is exciting Alabama Democrats, who rate her, Sen. Barack Obama and John Edwards as the candidates to watch in the state’s new presidential primary.
Mrs. Clinton announced Jan. 20 that she would form a presidential exploratory committee. Mr. Obama of Illinois and Mr. Edwards, the Democratic vice-presidential nominee in 2004, have already taken that step.
“I’d put Obama, Clinton and Edwards in a clump of three, with the others in the back,” Joe Turnham, chairman of the Alabama DemocraticParty,toldtheAssociatedPress.
He said that Mrs. Clinton is probably supported by about one-fourth of the likely Democratic voters in Alabama and that if she wants to build on that, she will have to campaign actively in the state — something Bill Clinton didn’t do because he had the nomination locked up before Alabama’s primary.
The Alabama Legislature has moved up Alabama’s presidential primary by four months to Feb. 5, 2008. The state will go from being last in the South to second behind South Carolina. Because of that, the state is getting more attention from likely presidential candidates of both parties.
Former Rep. Bill Janklow, South Dakota Republican, emerged from his manslaughter probation Jan. 22 with a clean record, more than three years after he sped through a stop sign in a Cadillac and killed a motorcyclist.
Mr. Janklow already regained his law license and can get behind the wheel again, having obeyed all conditions of his release, his probation officer said.
But the 67-year-old’s political career is through.
“I think that it’s good for everyone involved that this chapter has come to a conclusion,” said Ed Evans, the lawyer who represented him at trial.
Mr. Janklow told the Associated Press that he did not want to commentabouttheendofhisprobation.
Mr. Janklow was governor for 16 years, serving four terms in two eight-year stints. In 2002, he was elected as South Dakota’s only member of the House.
His record will be cleared because Circuit Judge Rodney Steele, now retired, issued Mr. Janklow a suspended imposition of sentence in 2004 — a one-timeonly pass for a person found guilty of a felony.
A suspended imposition of sentence is similar to a pardon, and means that a judge has placed the jury’sguiltyverdictonhold.Thereis no conviction on record if a person complieswithallconditionsspecified as punishment by the judge.
Two weeks ago, the House of Representatives approved a resolution honoring the University of Florida football team, winner of the national championship game.
This provided occasion for comment by staffers for Rep. Jack Kingston, Georgia Republican, a proud alumnus of the University of Georgia, whose Bulldogs are bitter rivals of Florida’s Gators in the Southeastern Conference (SEC).
“Although we do feel that the Florida Gators did a great service by proving once again that the SEC is THE elite conference in college football, as Georgia Bulldogs, we could support no such resolution,” an anonymous staffer wrote on the blog at the congressman’s official Web site (http://kingston.house.gov/blog). “We encouraged Jack to vote against this resolution as we felt the constituents of the First District would want him to do so.
“Jack was the lone member of Congress to oppose the resolution, and we couldn’t be more proud of him. Despite getting much grief for his vote from his House colleagues, he was able to deliver the fundamental message we wanted him to convey — GO DAWGS!”
“When politicians break their pledges not to raise taxes, they come up with the darndest evasions,” John Fund writes at www.OpinionJournal.com.
“Take Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger, who wants to levy new charges on California doctors, hospitals and employers to help pay for his $12 billion health care plan. ‘It is not a tax, just a loan, because it does not go for general [expenditures],’ he told the Sacramento Bee [Jan. 18]. ‘It goes back to health care.’
“A loan? The first reaction of many Californians was: What state office will I be able to go to and get my loan back — perhaps with interest? It’s preposterous, for example, to characterize as a ‘loan’ the 4 percent payroll levy the governor wants to impose on employers who don’t offer health benefits. California’s gas taxes are dedicated to transportation, but no one would call them ‘gas loans.’ Property taxes go to local education. Are they not taxes?” Mr. Fund asked.
“The over-the-top absurdity of the Schwarzenegger statement led Rush Limbaugh into fits of laughter [on Jan. 19]. ‘Bill Clinton calling [tax increases] “investments” was bad enough,’ Mr. Limbaugh says. Bruce Bartlett, a free-market economist and harsh critic of the Bush administration, thought he’d heard all the euphemisms for a tax hike (‘revenue enhancements’ and ‘solidarity payments’ are classics), but he allows that ‘calling one a “loan” is new.’ ”
‘Bring it on’?
Color one man unimpressed by President Bush’s planned troop surge in Iraq.
Al Qaeda deputy leader Ayman al-Zawahri mocked Mr. Bush’s plan, saying Islamist militants could wipe out the entire U.S. Army, according to an Internet video posted Jan. 22. Al-Zawahri’s comments were published on the Web site of the U.S.-based SITE (Search for International Terrorist Entities) Institute, www.siteinstitute.org, which searches and analyzes militants’ networks.
“Why send 20,000 only? Why not send 50 or 100,000? Aren’t you aware that the dogs of Iraq are pining for your troops’ dead bodies?” he said.
According to Reuters news agency, al-Zawahri taunted Mr. Bush further by inviting him to send the whole U.S. Army to Iraq, and said the “mujahedeen” were capable of destroying the equivalent of 10 armies.
Turning to Afghanistan, al-Zawahri said the United States had failed to deprive the Taliban of a haven there and had to turn to NATO for help. Al-Zawahri urged Muslims to launch a jihad, or holy war, saying Mr. Bush’s plan to send more troops to Iraq made it an obligation for all Muslims to defend Islam.
Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton, New York Democrat and presidential hopeful, began her first online chat Jan. 22 answering a question on the war in Iraq, a possible Achilles’ heel that she hopes to disarm before next year’s Democratic primary.
Mrs. Clinton was among the Democrats who voted in favor of the resolution to authorize that war. Since then, Democrats — and an increasing number of independent voters — have grown deeply dissatisfied with the war and her decision. On Jan. 22, she put the blame entirely on President Bush, reports Charles Hurt of The Washington Times.
“We have to make better decisions now than the president has in the past,” a lavender-clad Mrs. Clinton told Web viewers for the videocast as she sat on a beige couch.
But, she added, she does not support cutting funding to end the conflict immediately.
“I don’t want to cut funding for American troops,” she said. “I don’t want to do anything that in any way undercuts their ability to protect themselves.”
She said she would rather cut U.S. aid to Iraqi troops unless they step forward and take control of their country’s security.
Former House Speaker Newt Gingrich said he plans to seek the Republican presidential nomination in 2008 only as a “last resort.”