Another nail in the GOP coffin

The second shoe fell last week when the Christian-conservative “Values Voters” met in Washington. Out of 5,775 opinion votes cast, national front-runner Rudolph Giuliani finished next to last, with only 2 percent, in a field of six contenders.

The Christian right is far from reaching consensus. Meanwhile, Latino evangelicals, a crucial swing bloc, have quietly left Republican hopefuls to fend for themselves.

The first shoe to drop came the day before, when Sen. Mel Martinez of Florida announced he was resigning as general chairman of the Republican National Committee.

Rudy takes aim at the media

There was a big, imaginary bull’s-eye covering the media section at former New York City Mayor Rudolph Giuliani’s town-hall meeting in Davenport, Iowa.

For once, his attacks on Democrats were relatively mild compared with the incessant derision he aimed at a monster called “the liberal media.”

During the gathering Wednesday night at the Mississippi Valley Fairgrounds in Davenport, Giuliani cited an alleged media bias at least nine times, blaming it for everything from the struggles in the Iraq war to higher taxes.

Congressional Hispanics favor Clinton

With the 2008 presidential election still more than a year away, 15 out of 22 Democratic Latino members in the House have picked their candidates. Of the two Democratic senators, only Robert Menendez of New Jersey has stated his selection, Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton of New York.

Clinton has also garnered support of seven Hispanic House members, four of them women. Three of the latter are from California and one from New York.

A GOP sleeper in Iowa?

Mike Huckabee, who strums a bass guitar and cracks jokes at campaign stops, is quietly establishing himself with Iowa voters as a serious candidate for the Republican presidential nomination.

“I think he’s the sleeper candidate this year,” said Steve Roberts, a Des Moines lawyer who sits on the Republican National Committee. “He makes a very positive impression in his public appearances and in the debates.”

Aw, ain’t that sweet

Democratic 2008 White House frontrunner Hillary Clinton says she is happy she stuck out it out with her husband, the 42nd president, through “challenges” in their marriage.

Clinton said in an interview with the November issue of Essence magazine, that Bill Clinton is “so romantic” and recently brought her home a wooden giraffe from a trip to Africa.

“I know the truth of my life and of my marriage, my relationship and partnership, my deep abiding friendship with my husband,” Clinton said, according to excerpts of the interview on the magazine’s website.

Now here’s a radical political idea

You may think that this is the election when you’re finally going to be a gung-ho political activist. A stir-’em-up conservative. A shake-’em-up liberal. A straight-ahead independent. Ready to volunteer to work the phones or the blogs. Whatever it takes to help your presidential candidate carry your state.

But you are so gung-ho that you don’t realize that you’ve just been gung-had.

Hillary’s Social Security two-step

Hillary Rodham Clinton says she has a million ideas, and the dreadful, terrible shame is that one of them isn’t to do anything about Social Security except dance away and invent fabrications.

Running as a gay candidate

Jim Neal, the Democratic dark horse challenging North Carolina Republican Sen. Elizabeth Dole, has disclosed he is gay — making him one of the nation’s few openly homosexual candidates for a statewide office.

Neal, 50, a Chapel Hill investment banker, discussed his sexual orientation during an online interview with a liberal blog, NCBlue over the weekend. He said his family, friends and business associates already know.

“It’s no secret,” Neal said in an interview Monday. “Why would you not talk about the color of your eyes?”

Dems vie for rural vote

Former North Carolina Sen. John Edwards was midway through his speech inside a crowded firehouse here last week when audience member Eunice McCarty nudged the man sitting next to her.

He was a Republican, and McCarty wanted him to know he had just been caught at a Democratic presidential candidate’s event.

The man didn’t applaud much, but at least he paid attention, she said.

“After all the things, they may be willing to listen at least,” she figured.

In this far-flung, northwestern corner of Iowa, it’s “almost kind of scary” to be anything but a Republican, she said.

Kowtowing for the religious right

After a weekend of auditioning would-be presidents, Christian conservatives are still seeking consensus on who should get the part.

“A lot of people feel less than satisfied; there’s no news in that,” former Pennsylvania Sen. Rick Santorum said midway through the weekend gathering of the Family Research Council. “Of the major candidates, the big four, I don’t know if anyone has hit the mark yet.”