Inside Pol­i­tics

The Washington Times Weekly - - National -

An­swer is ‘no’

New York Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg says he can­not win the pres­i­dency and won’t run, the strong­est state­ment to date about his in­ten­tions for the 2008 pres­i­den­tial race.

Mr. Bloomberg pre­vi­ously had said he had no plans to run, which failed to quiet spec­u­la­tion that he was plan­ning an in­de­pen­dent bid for the White House. In an in­ter­view with Dan Rather of HDNet television last week, Mr. Bloomberg was asked whether he was run­ning or would run for pres­i­dent. He an­swered “no” to both ques­tions.

He re­fused to cat­e­gor­i­cally rule out any fu­ture run, then added: “The an­swer is ‘no.’ [. . .] If some­body asks me where I stand, I tell them. And that’s not a way to get elected gen­er­ally. No­body’s go­ing to elect me pres­i­dent of the United States.”

HDNet pro­vided a par­tial tran­script of the in­ter­view, in which the self-made bil­lion­aire also ruled out be­com­ing a vice-pres­i­den­tial can­di­date and played down his chances of be­com­ing Trea­sury sec­re­tary, the Reuters news agency re­ported.

Ari­zona’s pri­mary

Ari­zona Gov. Janet Napoli­tano has de­cided to move up Ari­zona’s pres­i­den­tial pri­mary by three weeks to Feb. 5, join­ing at least 19 other states with pri­maries or cau­cuses on that date.

Miss Napoli­tano will in­voke her author­ity un­der state law and move the pri­mary from Feb. 26, aides told the As­so­ci­ated Press on Aug. 21.

The gov­er­nor chose the new date be­cause it pro­vides the ear­li­est chance for Ari­zona to have its pri­mary with­out break­ing na­tional po­lit­i­cal party rules, said Noah Kroloff, deputy chief of staff for pol­icy. Other states with pri­maries the same day in­clude Cal­i­for­nia, Illi­nois, New Jer­sey and New York.

Miss Napoli­tano, a Demo­crat, be­lieves Ari­zo­nans will ben­e­fit from hav­ing an early pri­mary be­cause can­di­dates will be more likely to visit the state and learn about im­mi­gra­tion and other is­sues of con­cern in the state, Mr. Kroloff said.

“Some­times they en­ter the pres­i­den­tial de­bates, and some­times they don’t, but if you have Ari­zona in a po­si­tion where we’re early like this, the can­di­dates are go­ing to have to be in a po­si­tion to think about them, and that’s the ad­van­tage for Ari­zona,” Mr. Kroloff said.

Obama on Cuba

Demo­cratic pres­i­den­tial can­di­date Barack Obama on Aug. 21 called the Bush ad­min­is­tra­tion’s de­ci­sion to tighten re­stric­tions on rel­a­tives of Cubans who want to visit the is­land or send money home strate­gic blun­ders and promised to re­verse the mea­sures if elected.

The Illi­nois sen­a­tor leapt into the long-run­ning de­bate over U.S.-Cuba pol­icy with an op-ed piece pub­lished in the Mi­ami Her­ald.

“The pri­mary means we have of en­cour­ag­ing pos­i­tive change in Cuba to­day is to help the Cuban peo­ple be­come less de­pen­dent on the Cas­tro regime in fun­da­men­tal ways,” Mr. Obama wrote. “Un­for­tu­nately, the Bush ad­min­is­tra­tion has made grand ges­tures to that end while strate­gi­cally blun­der­ing when it comes to ac­tu­ally ad­vanc­ing the cause of free­dom and democ­racy in Cuba.”

He said that was true of the travel and money re­stric­tions im­posed in 2004, adding that the move iso­lated those on the is­land from “the trans­for­ma­tive mes­sage car­ried there by Cuban Amer­i­cans.” He promised to grant Cuban ex­iles un­re­stricted rights to visit their fam­i­lies and to send re­mit­tances home.

While the U.S. em­bargo has lim­ited who can travel to the com­mu­nist is­land and what can be sent there since the early 1960s, Mr. Bush’s re­stric­tions made visit­ing and ship­ping gifts to Cuba more dif­fi­cult.

Most Cuban-Amer­i­cans can visit the is­land only once ev­ery three years and can send quar­terly re­mit­tances of up to only $300 per house­hold to im­me­di­ate fam­ily mem­bers. Pre­vi­ously, they could visit once a year and send up to $3,000. The U.S. also tight­ened re­stric­tions on travel for ed­u­ca­tional and re­li­gious groups.

Body lan­guage

Pres­i­dent Bush and Cana­dian Prime Min­is­ter Stephen Harper are of­ten re­ferred to as strong al­lies be­cause they both lead con­ser­va­tive par­ties, but signs of per­sonal warmth be­tween the two lead­ers on Aug. 21 were nonex­is­tent, re­ports Jon Ward of The Wash­ing­ton Times.

Mr. Bush, emerg­ing onto a stage with Mr. Harper and Mex­i­can Pres­i­dent Felipe Calderon for a press con­fer­ence af­ter two days of meet­ings, was grim-faced and frowned through much of the hour­long event.

Mr. Bush’s mood even­tu­ally light­ened as the press con­fer­ence wore on, but dur­ing Mr. Harper’s open- ing re­marks, as the Cana­dian leader spoke of dis­agree­ments he pre­sented to Mr. Bush in meet­ings, the two men point­edly avoided mak­ing eye con­tact.

When Mr. Harper said the talks be­tween the U.S. and Canada were “as cor­dial as they were con­struc­tive” and glanced over at Mr. Bush, Mr. Bush looked down and con­tin­ued to frown. The two-day sum­mit in Que­bec pro­duced no re­sults in Canada’s ef­forts to gain U.S. con­ces­sions on ma­jor is­sues of con­cern.

Canada wants the U.S. to ease rules re­quir­ing Cana­di­ans to show their pass­port at the U.S. border and to rec­og­nize Cana­dian sovereignty over the North­west Pas­sage in the Arc­tic. In ad­di­tion, Mr. Harper raised con­cerns with Mr. Bush about Canada’s will­ing­ness to main­tain its troop com­mit­ment in Afghanistan be­yond Fe­bru­ary 2009, when their cur­rent de­ploy­ment obli­ga­tion of 2,500 troops runs out and would have to be re­newed by Par­lia­ment.

A close aide to Mr. Bush, who at­tended most of the meet­ings over the two days, said re­la­tions be­tween the two men were “fine.”

“I think peo­ple feel like it’s been a good cou­ple days,” the aide told Mr. Ward. “Ev­ery­body’s got their con­cerns, but [. . .] I haven’t sensed any ten­sion at all.”

Heidi for Hil­lary

“For­mer Hol­ly­wood madam and cur­rent rural Ne­vada small busi­ness­woman Heidi Fleiss was turned away from Hil­lary Clin­ton’s ap­pear­ance in Pahrump [two weeks ago], but she doesn’t hold a grudge,” Molly Ball re­ports in the Las Ve­gas Re­view-Jour­nal.

“I’m a big fan of Hil­lary’s. Any wo­man who’s smart, how can you not be?” said Miss Fleiss, who gained no­to­ri­ety in the ’90s while run­ning a call-girl ring that catered to Hol­ly­wood stars and moguls, but now runs a [Laun­dro­mat] called ‘Dirty Laun­dry.’

“Fleiss is not the first sex-in­dus­try vet­eran to en­dorse Clin­ton,” Miss Ball re­ports. “The cam­paign has the of­fi­cial back­ing of porn star Jenna Jame­son.”

Hi­larie Grey, a spokes­woman for the Clin­ton cam­paign, told the Re­view-Jour­nal: “We weren’t aware she was a sup­porter. It seemed like the whole town was full of sup­port­ers that day. We only wish we’d had room for ev­ery­one.”

Crush on Obama

Obama Girl has up­set Obama’s girls.

The Web video of a scant­ily clad ac­tress pledg­ing her af­fec­tion for the Demo­cratic pres­i­den­tial can­di­date has been a hit on­line, but not in his own home. Barack Obama says his 6-year-old daugh­ter, Sasha, has no­ticed press cov­er­age of the video.

“Sasha asked Mommy about it,” Mr. Obama said Aug. 20 in an in­ter­view with the As­so­ci­ated Press. “She said, ‘Daddy al­ready has a wife’ or some­thing like that.”

“I Got A Crush On Obama” stars an as­pir­ing model and ac­tress named Am­ber Lee Et­tinger, aka Obama Girl. Her song, which has lines like “Uni­ver­sal health care re­form, it makes me warm,” has got­ten more than 3 mil­lion hits and nearly 10,000 com­ments since be­ing posted two months ago on YouTube, the on­line video-shar­ing site.

Mr. Obama said he knows the video was meant to be light­hearted, but he wasn’t smil­ing when asked about it in the in­ter­view in Salem, N.H.

“I guess it’s too much to ask, but you do wish peo­ple would think about what im­pact their ac­tions have on kids and fam­i­lies,” Mr. Obama said.

Com­plaint filed

A lib­eral blog­ger has filed a fed­eral com­plaint against for­mer Sen. Fred Thompson, the ac­tor and unan­nounced Repub­li­can can­di­date for pres­i­dent, ac­cus­ing him of vi­o­lat­ing elec­tion laws as he pon­ders his en­try into the race.

The blog­ger, Lane Hud­son, sub­mit­ted his com­plaint to the Fed­eral Elec­tion Com­mis­sion on Aug. 20, say­ing Mr. Thompson has raised far more money than he needs to ex­plore whether to run for pres­i­dent.

Fed­eral law al­lows po­ten­tial can­di­dates to raise money to travel, con­duct polls and pay for other ex­penses re­lated to “test­ing the wa­ters” for a po­lit­i­cal cam­paign. Dur­ing that ex­ploratory pe­riod, a po­ten­tial can­di­date does not have to file fi­nan­cial re­ports with the FEC.

The law pro­hibits any­one who is “test­ing the wa­ters” from hoard­ing the money for use dur­ing his or her ac­tual cam­paign. Po­ten­tial can­di­dates also can­not re­fer to them­selves as can­di­dates, can’t run ads that pub­li­cize their in­ten­tion to cam­paign or take steps to qual­ify for the bal­lot in a pri­mary or cau­cus state.

Ac­cord­ing to a fi­nan­cial re­port filed late last month, Mr. Thompson had raised nearly $3.5 mil­lion and spent $625,000. Mr. Thompson must raise money within fed­eral con­tri­bu­tion lim­its and must re­port it to the FEC once he be­comes an of­fi­cial can­di­date.

“We’re fol­low­ing the law,” Thompson spokesman Jim Mills said in re­sponse to the com­plaint.

Un­der fed­eral guide­lines, the FEC will now give Thompson 15 days to re­spond to the com­plaint. Af­ter Mr. Thompson’s re­sponse, elec­tion com­mis­sion­ers will de­cide whether to dis­miss the case or in­ves­ti­gate fur­ther, the As­so­ci­ated Press re­ports.

Mr. Hud­son, an ac­tivist who gained at­ten­tion for post­ing In­ter­net com­mu­ni­ca­tions be­tween dis­graced for­mer Rep. Mark Fo­ley and a con­gres­sional page, said Mr. Thompson “has been ig­nor­ing the let­ter and the spirit of the fed­eral elec­tion law for his own po­lit­i­cal ben­e­fit.”

Bloomberg News

Two of th­ese guys don’t seem to get along: Mex­i­can Pres­i­dent Felipe Calderon, left, U.S. Pres­i­dent Ge­orge W. Bush, cen­ter, and Cana­dian Prime Min­is­ter Stephen Harper at­tend the North Amer­i­can Lead­ers Sum­mit in Mon­te­bello, Que­bec, Canada, on Aug. 20.

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