Tags: Hillary | Obama | Split

Hillary Obama Split, Giuliani's Problem, Russert, More

Sunday, 02 Mar 2008 07:28 PM

By Special from Newsmax's Most Informed Sources

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Headlines (Scroll down for complete stories):
1. Phil Gramm Shaping McCain's Economic Policy
2. Hillary and Obama Splitting Jewish Vote
3. John Fund: Why Giuliani Lost
4. Arlen Specter Holding up Judges
5. Conservatives Don't Like Washington Times' Style Changes
6. Gay Voters Leaving Hillary for Obama
7. We Heard: Tim Russert, 'The Rock'
 

1. Phil Gramm Shaping McCain's Economic Policy

Presidential hopeful John McCain's chief economic adviser is former U.S. Senator Phil Gramm, a longtime advocate of free market fiscal policy.

And McCain is following the Texas Republican's lead on such issues as healthcare, taxes and the federal budget.

Gramm, a former economics professor, retired from the Senate in 2002 and has been an investment banker at UBS. He joined old friend McCain's then-floundering campaign in July and helped turn it around.

"If McCain follows Gramm's counsel, and most of his current positions are vintage Gramm indeed, his policies as president would represent not just a sharp departure from the Bush years, but an assault on government growth that Republicans have boasted about, but failed to achieve, for decades," Fortune magazine observes.

McCain and Gramm joined forces to help defeat Hillary Clinton's healthcare plan in 1993. McCain and Gramm now support a plan that would allow Americans to shop for healthcare with their own money.

McCain advocates giving tax rebates of $2,500 per individual or $5,000 per family, and Americans could use that money to purchase healthcare policies on their own. The plan would also eliminate the tax exclusion for healthcare benefits offered by employers and replace it with the rebates.

Clinton and Barack Obama want to retain the employer-based system, and the Democrats would not allow insurers to charge lower healthcare insurance rates for young workers. McCain and Gramm favor allowing insurers to tailor their premiums, and their packages, to their customers, according to Fortune.

Regarding taxes, McCain now support extending the Bush tax cuts he twice voted against. But unlike Bush, he would seek to drastically cut spending.

"McCain's main objection when Congress passed the tax cuts was that we didn't have spending controls," Gramm told Fortune.

McCain vows to balance the federal budget by 2012 by, among other things, vetoing all pork barrel spending and reining in spending for Social Security and Medicare.

Amid speculation that Gramm could be President McCain's Treasury Secretary, Gramm said he's reluctant to return to public life — but he won't rule it out.

Editor's Note:


2. Hillary and Obama Splitting Jewish Vote

Barack Obama has surprised some political observers by polling well in the primaries among an electorate once considered to be solidly in the Hillary Clinton camp — Jewish voters.

In Clinton's home state New York, where Jews made up 17 percent of Democratic voters in the primary, Hillary won 65 percent of the Jewish vote to Obama's 33 percent.

In neighboring New Jersey, where Jews accounted for 10 percent of Democratic primary voters, Clinton came out on top among Jews by a margin of 63 percent to 37 percent.

She also won the Jewish vote in Arizona, 51 percent to 44 percent, according to figures provided by the Jewish publication Forward.

Clinton won the primaries in all three states.

But in several other states with significant Jewish populations, Obama actually won a majority of the Jewish vote.

Initial reports had Clinton winning California by a margin of 48 percent to 44 percent among Jews. But later figures published by Haaretz.com showed that Obama actually beat Hillary among California Jews, 49 percent to 47 percent.

Obama also won 61 percent of the vote among Connecticut Jews to Hillary's 38 percent, and he beat Clinton in Massachusetts, 52 percent to 48 percent.

Obama won the Connecticut primary but lost in California and Massachusetts.

Obama's respectable showing among Jewish voters comes despite concerns about his support for Israel.

A recent article in Newsweek bore the headline, "Good for the Jews? Hillary Clinton's surrogates are questioning Obama's commitment to U.S.-Israeli relations."

But the Obama campaign has said in a statement, "Barack Obama's long-standing support for Israel's security is rooted in his belief that no civilians should have to live with the threat of terrorism."

On the Republican side, John McCain is likely to get more support from Jewish voters than a GOP candidate can usually expect, according to Jeff Ballabon, an Orthodox activist and Republican fundraiser from New York.

Ballabon told Forward that McCain is "seen as a maverick, and that comforts a lot of the moderate and swing voters who are not as comfortable with Hillary Clinton but who wouldn't otherwise be comfortable with a Republican."

Editor's Note:


3. John Fund: Why Giuliani Lost

Rudy Giuliani's failed presidential campaign was "a study in sheer arrogance, run by a group of insular Rudy yes men."

That's the view of Wall Street Journal columnist John H. Fund — and he does mean "men."

"The only prominent female advisor was his wife Judith — who had never run a national campaign."

Fund said he first saw problems with the Giuliani effort at the February 2007 Conservative Political Action Conference in Washington, which Fund attended as a reporter and speaker.

Writing in the American Spectator, Fund recalls that he tried to retrieve his medicine from the green room, where speakers waited before addressing the gathering. But Rudy and staffers were in the room, and one of his aides barred Fund — who had a speaker's pass — telling him: "The mayor is about to speak. Get out!"

Fund writes: "Sadly, I found that behavior typical of Team Giuliani. They seemed to have no understanding that a presidential campaign can't behave with the brusqueness of a White House staff."

A few weeks later, Giuliani staffers "created sheer hell" for organizers of a conference of conservatives, waking them at 3 a.m. for a "walk through" of a conference room where Rudy was to speak the following day, said Fund, author of the book "Stealing Elections: How Voter Fraud Threatens Our Democracy."

At that conference, Judith declined to answer questions posed to her and in general "acted as if she had to use for the 'little people' in her midst," Fund observed.

Then there was the matter of Giuliani's cell phone — Rudy was captured on tape taking a call from Judith during a speech to the National Rifle Association.

But according to Fund, that was just one of more than 40 calls from his wife that he took in the midst of delivering a speech. The calls alienated local officials, donors and close friends, declared Fund, who concluded:

"In the end, Rudy Giuliani, the scourge of the liberal entitlement mentality during his years as New York mayor, fell victim to his own sense of entitlement — that the nomination was his for the asking, that he didn't have to work hard for it, and that he could afford to skip early primaries."

Editor's Note:


4. Arlen Specter Holding Up Judges

Conservatives on the Senate Judiciary Committee believe this year offers the last chance to appoint and confirm judges with strict constructionist legal philosophies to appellate courts.

But Sen. Arlen Specter of Pennsylvania, the ranking Republican on the committee, is rebuffing calls from conservatives to push harder for judges whose confirmations are being stalled by Democrats.

Specter won't play hardball with the Democrats because he wants to avoid friction that could torpedo the committee's legislative work, including a bill that would give bankruptcy courts more authority to deal with the mortgage crisis, The Hill newspaper reports.

Specter said Republicans could face a backlash if they are seen to be holding up important business.

Nearly 20 conservative activist organizations met recently at the offices of the Family Research Council, a pro-Christian values group, to explore ways to speed up the confirmation process.

The Senate has confirmed only six appellate court nominees in the 110th Congress, and "observers are growing skeptical that the chamber will be able to confirm another nine in a politically charged election year," according to The Hill.

Several nominations have been pending since last year.

But Curt Levey, executive director of the Committee for Justice, a conservative organization, told The Hill: "A majority of Republicans on the committee want to play real hardball and some of the moderates want to take the more gentlemanly approach."

Patrick Leahy of Vermont is the current chairman of the committee, which also includes such liberal Democrats as Ted Kennedy, Joe Biden, Dianne Feinstein and Charles Schumer.

Editor's Note:


5. Conservatives Don't Like Washington Times' Style Changes

John Solomon, the new executive editor of the conservative Washington Times, has instituted several style changes that don't sit well with observers on the right.

According to a memo obtained by Salon.com:

  • The word "gay" is now preferred at the Times instead of "homosexual," except "in clinical references or references to sexual activity."

  • The term "gay marriage" will no longer have quotation marks, and is preferred over "homosexual marriage."

  • The paper will use "illegal immigrants" instead of "illegal aliens."

  • Conservative pundit Michelle Malkin wrote on her blog: "Soon they'll drop 'illegal' from 'illegal immigrants.' Then it'll be 'undocumented immigrants.' Then they'll just go the Harry Reid route and call them 'undocumented Americans.'"

    And on Newsbusters, the blog of the Media Research Center — a conservative press watchdog — Tim Graham notes:

    "This memo in no way means that Solomon is turning the Times into a liberal newspaper. You'd need more than a lingo change to arrive there. But it does suggest that Solomon has his eyes on impressing the national media elite, and not just impressing the inside-the-Beltway readership of the Times."

    Editor's Note:


    6. Gay Voters Leaving Hillary for Obama

    Barack Obama is eroding one of Democratic presidential rival Hillary Clinton's strongest bases of support — the gay and lesbian community, according to political observers.

    "Obama has presented more detailed position papers on gay and lesbian issues than Clinton," said David Mixner, an activist who helped Bill Clinton win over the gay vote during the 1992 presidential race and backed Hillary's two Senate campaigns in New York.

    This time Mixner is backing Obama, he told the Detroit Free Press.

    On Super Tuesday, Clinton won 63 percent of the vote in California among people identifying themselves as gay, and drew 59 percent of the gay vote in New York.

    But since then Hillary has lost 11 consecutive primaries to Obama. She needs wins on March 4 in Texas, which has large gay communities in Dallas and Houston, and in Ohio, home to the sixth-largest gay and lesbian community in the U.S.

    Obama has run full-page ads in gay publications in both states.

    Hillary and Obama both oppose same-sex marriage but support civil unions. Obama has scored points in the gay community by calling for the full repeal of the 1996 Defense of Marriage Act, signed by President Clinton, which prohibits federal recognition of same-sex marriage and allows states to do the same. Hillary seeks to repeal only part of the law, according to the Free Press.

    Mixner said many gay and lesbian voters remain angry over Hillary's previous support for the Act.

    Editor's Note:


    7. We Heard . . .

    THAT movie actor and former pro wrestler Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson has fallen victim to the slumping housing market and sold a South Florida home for $600,000 less than he paid for it.

    Johnson and his wife Dany purchased the 8,045-square-foot lakefront home in Davie, Fla., for $1.82 million in August 2006, but never lived in it and put it on the market in February 2007 for $1.92 million. The couple announced last June that they were separating.

    The home sold on Feb. 5 for $1.2 million.

    THAT Tim Russert, who has interviewed politicians and newsmakers for more than 16 years as host of "Meet the Press," had a surprising answer when asked whom else he'd like to interview.

    Responding to the query for Time magazine's "10 Questions," Russert said: "I've interviewed every major political figure. I'd like to have a conversation with Bruce Springsteen.

    "I earned my way through law school by booking a Springsteen concert in 1974."


    Editor's Note:

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