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Insider Report: Richard Viguerie Blasts GOP

Saturday, 13 August 2005 12:00 AM

Conservative icon Richard Viguerie has come out with all guns blazing against Washington Republicans, saying they've abandoned their conservative principles and risk defeat in the 2006 elections.

In an open letter addressed to "Conservative Leaders," Viguerie writes: "It has become increasingly clear that Republicans in Washington care little or nothing about grassroots conservatives and the values they hold dear.

"After we spent decades defeating the Rockefeller wing of the Party, it seems we have a new enemy – the Washington wing of the GOP. They're not just wasting money; they're actually massively growing government in direct contravention of everything Republicans purport to stand for."

Viguerie, a consultant and direct-mail specialist who helped elect Ronald Reagan in 1980, said Republicans are betraying conservatives who believe in limited government, lower taxes and modest spending.

"The highway bill just passed by our Republican Congress (with the president's blessing), at $286.4 BILLION is the most expensive public works legislation ever passed," he writes.

"The National Taxpayers Union put it best when describing one of the more offensive projects in the bill: ‘$220 million for a 5.9-mile bridge connecting Gravina Island (population 50) to the Alaskan mainland. The cost of the bridge alone would be enough to buy every island resident his own personal Lear jet.'

"One can only be reminded of 1998 when the Republican Congress, just four years after taking power, went on a similar spending spree – only to watch grassroots activists desert them in November. The GOP lost House seats in the second midterm election of a Democratic president, a failure almost unheard of in American politics."

Viguerie urges conservatives to speak out about how Republicans have "betrayed" them, and "make clear that our interests, as conservatives, are being seriously undermined by this new political class: long-serving Republicans in Washington more interested in keeping power than doing right by the Constitution and the American people."

He asks: "When will the GOP learn that the party's success is directly tied to the level of commitment from its core base of conservative voters and activists?"

And he warns: "If these Washington Republicans continue to prove to conservatives that there really is no difference between them and Democrats … they are headed for a disappointing election night in 2006."

2. Schwarzenegger Keeps Guards for Boots

California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger is so protective of his vast footwear collection that he has armed security personnel guard his weekday suite at the Sacramento Hyatt Regency hotel.

The well-heeled former action star has more than 100 boots there and at his Los Angeles home, according to contactmusic.com.

In fact, his wife Maria Shriver has nicknamed him Imelda Marcos after the former first lady of the Philippines, who owned more than 2,000 pairs of footwear during her husband's presidency.

Schwarzenegger has been a collector of handmade boots since his Hollywood days. He has boots embroidered with the American flag, alligator-skin boots and a pair decorated with sterling silver and gold.

There's even a pair featuring the official seal of the governor of California, which Arnold has often worn to official state events, the Daily News of Los Angeles reports.

And Schwarzenegger refuses to leave his boots without someone to protect them, insisting: "It's my rule."

But Democrats are hoping to turn the Governator's footwear fetish into a scandal, joking about "Bootgate."

3. Rupert Murdoch Courts Democrats

Rupert Murdoch's News Corp., traditionally a strong supporter of Republican candidates, has shifted gears and contributed more to Democrats last year.

From 1997 to 2003, News Corp.'s political action committee (PAC) gave 57 percent of its $305,000 in contributions to Republicans and just 43 percent to Democrats.

But in 2004, News Corp. – the parent company of Fox News Channel and the New York Post – gave Democrats most of its donations, 55 percent of the $131,000 total, according to PoliticalMoneyLine, which monitors political contributions.

Some of the biggest recipients included such liberals as Sen. Barbara Boxer of California, Rep. Ed Markey of Massachusetts and Rep. Henry Waxman of California, the Wall Street Journal reports.

But before anyone jumps to the conclusion that News Corp. has changed its political philosophy, note that there is an economic motive behind the switch in support: The company is courting Democratic lawmakers in an effort to block a new local-TV ratings system that lowers ratings for many of its stations.

The new electronic ratings system, called Local People Meters, replaces the paper diaries that Nielsen Media Research has relied on for many years.

People meters are already in place for national TV ratings. Now Nielsen is bringing them into use for local ratings as well.

News Corp. contends that the new system undercounts the number of African-Americans and Hispanics watching shows such as "Girlfriends" and "The Parkers" on UPN. News Corp. owns a local UPN affiliate in nine of the top 10 media markets, according to the Journal.

News Corp. also maintains that people meters have trouble measuring viewership in large households, which often are minority households, although Nielsen denies this.

 "The charm offensive by News Corp. shows how even as Republicans control most of the federal government – with President Bush in the White House and Republicans holding a majority in both the House and the Senate – companies often must win the support of Democrats to be successful," the Journal reports.

But the company's overtures to Democrats have so far met with limited success. Sen. Boxer and Sen. Hillary Clinton were early supporters of the News Corp. position, but neither has endorsed legislation to impose new regulations on Nielsen.

News Corp.'s prospects may improve now that Murdoch's 33-year-old son Lachlan has resigned his position as deputy chief operating officer.

Lachlan Murdoch had overseen the lobbying effort on the people meters issue, and early last year reportedly had threatened to start a competing ratings system if Nielsen wouldn't make changes in its new ratings system.

Nielsen responded with a lobbying effort of its own, spending more than $6 million since April 2004 – the company's first Washington lobbying effort ever.

4. Congressman Rohrabacher's Beer Mug

4. Congressman Rohrabacher's Beer Mug

Rep. Dana Rohrabacher, Orange County's most famous conservative, raised eyebrows when he was seen drinking from a big glass beer mug during a subcommittee hearing on Syria and the oil-for-food scandal.

A beer mug?

"It occurred to me that I've seen him do that on several occasions," a source told the publication The Hill.

"I'm guessing that it's actually apple juice or something that just looks like beer. But it is strange that he would drink from a beer mug while he's presiding over a subcommittee hearing."

It's not apple juice – but it's not beer either, according to Rebecca Rudman, spokeswoman for the California Republican.

"He'll often drink Red Bull or vitamin water. It's just the biggest mug we have in the office.

"I'm sure he'll have a beer out of work hours, but not during a committee hearing."

5. Former Democrat Seeks GOP Nomination for N.Y. Governor

New York Secretary of State Randy Daniels, a former Democrat, wants to become the state Republican Party's first black nominee for governor – and the next George Pataki.

Daniels hasn't yet formally announced his candidacy, but he's "all but raised his hand for such a bid," the New York Times reports.

And now that Pataki has decided not to seek re-election, Daniels "is the default 2006 GOP front-runner – no one else is in the race yet," according to newyorkmetro.com.

Daniels, a former CBS News foreign correspondent, has already hired campaign consultants and a staff, set up a campaign office and raised money.

His staff includes former Pataki campaign manager Robert Ryan, former Pataki fundraiser Patrick Donohue, researcher Gary Maloney – who delved into Bill Clinton's draft-dodging past – and pollster John McLaughlin, who worked for Arnold Schwarzenegger's gubernatorial campaign.

Many state Republicans are less than thrilled about Daniels' candidacy, citing a lack of name recognition and doubts that he could beat Attorney General Eliot Spitzer, the Democratic front-runner.

"It would be hard for an unknown to beat Spitzer," pollster John Zogby declared.

But Daniels responds that party officials laughed at the little-known Pataki's hopes in 1994, adding that the time is ripe for a black Republican candidate.

"The party leadership wants an upstater who'll pump the GOP's traditional suburban and upstate base," said Daniels, 53.

"But New York's changed. Upstate's losing population, and middle-class minorities are turning the suburbs Democratic."

Daniels was appointed secretary of state by Pataki in 2001, after calling himself a "Pataki Democrat," and switched party affiliation the following year.

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Conservative icon Richard Viguerie has come out with all guns blazing against Washington Republicans, saying they've abandoned their conservative principles and risk defeat in the 2006 elections. In an open letter addressed to "Conservative Leaders," Viguerie writes: "It...
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Saturday, 13 August 2005 12:00 AM
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