Politics

Mixed reviews on Thompson

The returns are mixed on Fred Thompson’s first two months in the presidential race. The Republican candidate has battled criticism for his light campaign schedule, laid-back style and rambling speeches. He’s flubbed questions. He’s slipped some in national and early-primary polls.

Yet, he’s still competitive with Rudy Giuliani, Mitt Romney and John McCain in many surveys. He turned in a pair of decent debate performances. And he raised $12.5 million over four months from 80,000 donors.

Independents swinging towards Dems

Trisha Swonger, part of the remarkable 43 percent of New Hampshire voters who call themselves independents, remembers the balloons and euphoria in 2000 when her man, John McCain, won the state’s leadoff Republican primary.

He’d better not be counting on her this year.

In fact, come primary day, the Republicans shouldn’t be counting on very many of the independents at all.

In 2000, Swonger joined McCain and other supporters in a hotel ballroom cheering his big New Hampshire victory over George W. Bush. But times have changed.

Ron Paul raises $3.5 million in 20 hours

Republican presidential candidate Ron Paul, aided by an extraordinary outpouring of Internet support Monday, hauled in more than $3.5 million in 20 hours.

Paul, the Texas congressman with a Libertarian tilt and an out-of-Iraq pitch, entered heady fundraising territory with a surge of Web-based giving tied to the commemoration of Guy Fawkes Day.

Hillary’s gender gap

The bleachers told the tale of Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton’s gender gap.

Women outnumbered men by more than 3-to-1 as she stood on a simple stage inside a farm shed and brushed aside the male rivals who have been attacking her of late.

“Now, with two months left, 60 days left until the caucus, things are going to get a little hotter,” Clinton said here Saturday.

“Harry Truman said, ‘If you can’t stand the heat, get out of the kitchen,’” Clinton said. “Well, I feel real comfortable in the kitchen …”

Feminists lukewarm towards Hillary

Many American women are excited about Democrat Hillary Clinton’s ground-breaking bid for the White House, but feminists warn she can’t count on them just because she’s a woman.

They said tens of millions of women are more concerned about selecting a candidate who best addresses their top issues and are scrutinizing the former first lady in this light.

“Being a woman in and of itself is not sufficient to gain broad-based support,” Faye Wattleton, head of the Center for the Advancement of Women, said. “We’re not doing affirmative action in terms of the presidency.”

Fred’s drug-dealer quits campaign

An adviser to Republican Fred Thompson quit the presidential candidate’s campaign Monday, one day after a report about his decades-old criminal record for drug dealing.

“I have decided to resign my position as chair of ‘First Day Founders’ of ‘The Friends of Fred Thompson,’” Philip Martin said in a statement. “The focus of this campaign should be on Fred Thompson’s positions on the issues and his outstanding leadership ability, not on mistakes I made some 24 years ago. I deeply regret any embarrassment this has caused.”

The campaign issued the statement.

Unions ready to cash in on Dem win

If the Democrats hold both houses of the U.S. Congress and take the White House in the 2008 elections, America’s struggling unions plan to trade their political support for a raft of labor-friendly bills.

“It’s early to say but if the Democrats were to take the presidency,” as well as Congress, said Bill Samuel, legislation director of the AFL-CIO labor federation, “this could be an opportunity for historic change.”

Analysts say Big Labor will push for legislation to make forming unions easier, restrict free-trade pacts, raise corporate taxes and reform the creaking health-care system.

Fred’s drug-dealer buddy

Republican presidential candidate Fred Thompson has been campaigning around the country using a private jet that was provided to him by a businessman and close adviser, who has a criminal record for drug dealing, The Washington Post reported on its website Saturday.

The newspaper said the businessman, Philip Martin, has also been helping Thompson raise money for his White House bid.

Hillary claims she’s not secretive

Hillary Rodham Clinton on Sunday rejected charges she’s being secretive about her role as first lady in trying to overhaul the nation’s health care system.

“There’s been some misunderstanding and some misrepresentation about what the facts are,” said Clinton, the front-runner for the 2008 Democratic presidential nomination.

Reporters asked Clinton about a series of charges that have been made about her since last Tuesday’s Democratic debate. She shrugged off the attacks.

Hillary says she can handle critics

Hillary Rodham Clinton said Friday her status as the Democratic presidential front-runner — not her gender — has led her male primary rivals to intensify their criticism of her.

“I don’t think they’re piling on because I’m a woman. I think they’re piling on because I’m winning,” Clinton told reporters after filing paperwork to appear on the New Hampshire primary ballot.

“I anticipate it’s going to get even hotter, and if you can’t stand the heat get out of the kitchen. I’m very much at home in the kitchen,” she said.