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 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.
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.
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.”
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.