Politics

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.

GOP right wing wants a 3rd party

White evangelical Protestants, a key support base for the Republican Party, still have not united behind a single candidate for the 2008 White House race, according to a new poll released on Wednesday.

The poll by the nonpartisan Pew Research Center found that former New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani, Arizona Sen. John McCain and former Tennessee Sen. Fred Thompson each drew about 20 percent of the support from this group. Giuliani was on top with 23 percent, followed by Thompson with 21 percent.

Hillary’s risky evasions

It could be a long two months for Democrat Hillary Rodham Clinton if she continues to sidestep questions on big issues.

With just seven weeks to go until the leadoff Iowa caucuses, the New York senator has become the target for her Democratic rivals, especially Barack Obama and John Edwards, who are openly questioning her candor, integrity and electability.

Clinton has fought back using a classic front-runner’s playbook, trying to avoid direct confrontations with the other Democrats while taking her fight to Republicans, especially President Bush.

Can Edwards find salvation in Iowa?

Barb Jones is a foot soldier in John Edwards’ Iowa political army, one of the people he is counting on to keep his White House bid alive.

A 45-year-old mother of five, Jones is making telephone calls and knocking on doors for Edwards. She recently helped set up a rally in the northwest corner of Iowa, a remote landscape filled with cornfields that borders Minnesota and South Dakota, where Edwards was the first Democratic presidential candidate to venture this year.

The ‘Nail Hillary’ debate

Democrats Barack Obama and John Edwards sharply challenged Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton’s candor, consistency and judgment Tuesday in a televised debate that underscored her front-runner status two months before the first presidential primary votes.

Obama, the Illinois senator, began immediately, saying Clinton has changed her positions on the North American Free Trade Agreement, torture policies and the Iraq war. Leadership, he said, does not mean “changing positions whenever it’s politically convenient.”

Rudy never met a war he didn’t like

In some circles, it’s pretty much taken for granted that the war in Iraq is an unmitigated disaster with no possible gain for all the pain, and that you can make this observation over and over with no one objecting. Only someone is. Rudolph Giuliani.

“Do I think the mission overall in Iraq is the correct one?” he asked the other day, following up with a quick answer. “I think without a doubt it is.”

Success can bring more scrutiny

The spotlight on former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee just got a bit brighter.

That could explain why he was grinning as he strapped on a bass guitar and stood Friday night on the same stage where Buddy Holly played his last concert.

“We want to show that conservatives, Republicans, Christian believers can have as much fun as anybody else in the whole world,” he told a festive and decidedly well-behaved crowd at the Surf Ballroom in Clear Lake.

The GOP’s pissed-off right wing

At a recent regular function where an eclectic group of doctors, lawyers and former and current chiefs meets periodically over dinner to discuss issues of the day, I asked one of the early icons of conservatism whom he liked for the Republican presidential nomination.

How about Fred (former Sen. Thompson)?” I said, nudging a prominent moderate standing next to me. “It looks to me like he fits your profile about as well as anyone.”

“Lord, no!” he exclaimed. “He’s a Washington insider and I don’t trust him any more than I would any K Street manipulator.”