Tags: McCain | Denies | Right | Shift

McCain Denies Right Shift

Friday, 21 April 2006 12:00 AM

Democratic strategists are seeking to turn the Hispanic community's discontent over immigration policy into an opportunity to win over Latino voters.

The activists believe the recent pro-immigration rallies – which are a reaction to the Senate's failure to pass a guest-worker program to counter a strict House-passed border-security bill – give them a chance to roll back President Bush's nearly 40 percent support among Hispanics in the 2004 election.

"Groups such as the New Democrat Network, the Service Employees International Union and People for the American Way are stepping up operations in hopes of translating the high political energy among Hispanics into Democratic votes," the Washington-based publication The Hill reports.

Maria Echaveste of the Hispanic Strategy Center, a former Clinton White House deputy chief of staff, said in reference to the pro-immigrant rallies: "How do you transform that high energy into voters?

"That's something we at the Hispanic Strategy Center are going to be looking at very closely."

Other Clinton administration officials on the Hispanic Strategy Center's advisory board include Bill Richardson, the governor of New Mexico and former secretary of energy; Aida Alvarez, former administrator of the Small Business Administration; Henry Cisneros, former secretary of housing and urban development; and Federico Peña, the former secretary of transportation.

Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., and other congressional leaders have tried to avoid the appearance that they are trying to capitalize politically on the widespread Hispanic anger directed at the House Republican bill. But Democratic National Committee officials helped organize the rallies and promoted the party at the gatherings.

In fact, Democratic Party operatives conducted voter registration drives at the largest pro-immigrant rallies, as NewsMax reported earlier.

Robert de Posada, president of the GOP-allied Latino Coalition, said the Republican National Committee would have to counter the Democrat plans or "they're in deep trouble."

Sen. John McCain is on a national tour to promote his new book "Character Is Destiny" – and he's been reassuring supporters that he hasn't taken a rightward tilt to appeal to conservatives in his Republican Party.

Hundreds of people turned up at a recent book signing at a Borders store in Palm Beach, Fla., some to offer encouragement – and others to protest his appearance.

"I haven't changed, and I won't change," McCain told NewsMax correspondent Susan Feinberg and other reporters at the signing.

He pointed to his support of legislation for campaign finance reform, a ban on prisoner torture, and his efforts to reduce global warming. "These positions are not popular among the most conservative wing of my party," he said.

Suspicions of the "maverick" Republican's rightward shift were fueled when he voted to extend some of the very same Bush tax cuts that he had opposed. He also recently reconciled with Jerry Falwell, who he once called an "agent of intolerance," and agreed to address the spring 2006 graduating class at Falwell's Liberty University.

"Reverend Falwell came to my office and said he wanted to put our differences behind us," McCain said.

"I believe that in life and politics, you have to put things behind you."

McCain said he wrote "Character Is Destiny," which he co-authored with Mark Salter, to inspire young people and provide them with role models. The book contains 34 biographies of heroes whose lives embody qualities ranging from honesty and loyalty to compassion and humility.

He sidestepped a question about how Hillary Clinton rated on these virtues. "I don't know her well," he said, adding that she "represents the Democrats quite well."

About a dozen people lined the sidewalk outside Borders to protest McCain's position on immigration and his upcoming appearance at Liberty University.

Many of the book buyers asked McCain if he was going to run for president. He joked: "I don't think that Borders is the best place to make that announcement."

Earlier this year Saudi King Abdullah – on his first foreign trip – met with Chinese President Hu Jintao, signaling increasingly closer economic ties between the two nations.

The burgeoning trade between the oil-rich kingdom and the Oriental industrial giant comes as the two countries feel "jilted" by several U.S. moves and turn to each other for mutually beneficial relations, Forbes reports.

Those American moves include President Bush's "addiction" speech in January calling for lessening the nation's dependence on Middle Eastern oil, the Dubai Ports flap that was seen as slighting another Arab kingdom, the squashing of China's attempted takeover of Unocal, and American complaints about China's trade practices.

"What does this mean for the U.S.?" David Andelman writes in Forbes.

"Less willingness by Saudi Arabia to pump more oil to restrain price increases for American consumers. China, after all, will be standing by with an open checkbook for oil at any price. And China, for its part, will have another market for its goods."

Two-way trade between China and Saudi Arabia, mostly oil, surged 60 percent last year, passing the $14 billion mark and reaching half of the $28 billion in two-way trade between Saudi Arabia and the United States.

The Saudi-based conglomerate Zamil Group is seeking to expand in China and planning a steel-fabrication plant outside Shanghai.

Meanwhile Saudi shopping malls are increasingly jammed with Chinese exports, including clothing and toys.

"While the U.S. may have been the dominant player for the first part of Saudi Arabia's development," Forbes concludes, "China is clearly angling to share that role in the next part."

Recent remarks by New York gubernatorial candidate William Weld seemed to finally disclose the reason behind his long-simmering feud with former Sen. Alfonse D'Amato – but the truth remains elusive.

Weld told the audience at a Manhattan breakfast that in 1996, when he was governor of Massachusetts and running for the Senate, he received a $750,000 check from D'Amato that was delivered with an expletive-filled warning.

"Through clenched teeth, he handed me a check for $750,000," Weld recalled, adding that D'Amato also delivered a vulgar tirade about a Weld protégé, Robert S. Mueller III, who oversaw an investigation of D'Amato's brother in the early 1990s.

"If I ever see that expletive Mueller at an expletive fund-raiser, I'm going to get every expletive dollar of this back out of your hide," Weld said D'Amato told him.

Mueller, now the FBI director, worked with Weld at the United States attorney's office in Boston.

But an investigation by The New York Times found that there is no record to support Weld's claim that he received a $750,000 check "from anyone, much less Mr. D'Amato and the entities he controlled," the Times reports.

For his part, D'Amato vigorously denied the expletive-filled encounter, calling it "a bunch of baloney" and maintaining that he had never even spoken to Weld in person until this year.

Again, the Times investigated and found that both men, "to some degree, were stretching the truth."

The Times cites these encounters:

D'Amato denies that, and said Weld "may have been at events, but we never spoke." He claimed he had not spoken with Weld before a Feb. 23 fund-raiser for Rep. Vito J. Fossella.

"Perhaps the only clear fact about the long-running dispute is that Mr. D'Amato not only will not support Mr. Weld, but may be actively seeking to thwart him as the November election approaches," the Times notes.

D'Amato even offered praise for New York Attorney General Eliot Spitzer, a Democratic candidate for governor.

A leading free-market advocacy group has endorsed Ohio Secretary of State Ken Blackwell to replace outgoing Gov. Bob Taft, calling his opponent in the Republican primary a "Taft protégé."

The Club for Growth PAC said the election of Blackwell will improve Ohio's economic competitiveness.

"The Club for Growth PAC rarely endorses in a non-federal election contest, but Ohio is vitally important in the success of the pro-growth agenda across the country," said Club for Growth President Pat Toomey.

"Already a national leader in the conservative movement, Ken's rock-solid commitment to limited government, economic freedom and free enterprise will make him one of the most pro-growth governors in America. His leadership is critical to restoring Ohio and our nation's economic principles."

Blackwell campaign chair, Lara Mastin, responded: "We are pleased that America's foremost advocate for economic growth has recognized Ken's core belief in lower taxes and job creation.

"We look forward to their continued strong support as we work to restore the economic principles that Ohio needs so badly."

Blackwell's GOP primary opponent Jim Petro has a consistent record of supporting and raising taxes, according to Toomey.

He also opposed Blackwell's efforts in 2003 to repeal Gov. Taft's 20 percent sales tax hike.

"Jim Petro is a Taft protégé who carries the baggage of the current administration, including one of the worst tax-and-spend records in the nation," Toomey said.

Taft pleaded no contest in August to ethics violations stemming from his failure to report 52 gifts worth nearly $6,000 that he received over four years while in office. He was fined $4,000.

The Club for Growth was founded in 1999 as a nationwide organization dedicated to advancing public policies that promote economic growth, and now has more than 35,000 members.

Talk of an Al Gore run for the White House in 2008 has heated up now that the former vice president has hired Roy Neel, a veteran of presidential politics, to help run his campaign to raise awareness of global warming.

"His profile is going up considerably because of his work on global warming," said Neel, who ran Howard Dean's presidential campaign.

Gore is starring in a new documentary, "An Inconvenient Truth," about his efforts to focus attention on global warming.

Gore is also launching a fund-raising campaign to back his efforts against what he has called a "planetary emergency," according to the New York Daily News.

Gore's role in the movie, the News reports, "is contributing to a growing buzz in political circles that the new, unbound Gore could be the Democratic presidential nominee in 2008."

THAT Florida's first-term

The rankings are based on an analysis of 25 votes "that reflect a clear ideological principle," the group stated, including votes on abortion rights, tax cuts and gun control.

All 12 Senators who received a perfect score were Republicans, including potential 2008 presidential candidates

In the House, 38 Republicans received a perfect score.


A cover story in the weekly National Examiner about Kessler's biography "Laura Bush: An Intimate Portrait of the First Lady" carries the headline: "New Book Spills Secrets ... Bush Marriage Explodes."

The Examiner quotes a "family friend" as saying that President Bush "is livid about the book. He knew it was being written, and he knew that Laura had given the author access to some of her closest friends, but he didn't dream it would backfire and make him look like a fool."

We hardly think it's true that Bush is angry his wife is getting the recognition she deserves, but it is funny to see how the tabloids are spinning the success of Kessler's "Laura Bush" book.

The tabloid also states that "the book, by former Washington Post reporter Ronald Kessler, is so flattering to Laura that by comparison it makes her husband come off as an intellectual lightweight."

Kessler's book shot to the top of the Amazon.com list of best sellers within days of its publication, and made The New York Times list of best sellers as well.

An extensive excerpt from the book appears in the April issue of NewsMax Magazine.


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Democratic strategists are seeking to turn the Hispanic community's discontent over immigration policy into an opportunity to win over Latino voters. The activists believe the recent pro-immigration rallies - which are a reaction to the Senate's failure to pass a...
Friday, 21 April 2006 12:00 AM
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