Republicans say strange things

It’s that time of year when we review the weird and wacky comments made this past year by some of our public figures, prompting the always apt phrase, “Is this a great country or what?”

This week we will rankle the Republicans. Next week, the Democrats.

Sen. Larry Craig, R-Idaho, who had a terrible, horrible, no good, very bad year, was arrested in a men’s room at the Minneapolis airport in an undercover sex sting. He refused to resign, stating he was innocent although he had pleaded guilty to proposing a homosexual encounter.

Disliking Hillary

It was a blunt question for Hillary Rodham Clinton at the end of a long campaign day. A young man said he knew a lot of people who just didn’t like her, and he wanted to know what she could do about it.

She agreed there are people who will never vote for her. “It breaks my heart, but that is true,” she said, suggesting it’s just part of the game when you stick to your principles. But with two weeks to go to the Iowa caucuses, her campaign is making a bigger effort to confront the nagging matter of her likability and electability.

More bad news for Hillary?

Democratic presidential hopeful Sen. Hillary Clinton tops the list of “anti” candidates in a poll that asks Americans who they would most want to keep out of the White House, The Washington Times reported on Wednesday.

Forty-percent of Americans said they would vote against Clinton, a New York Democrat, according to a Fox 5-The Washington Times-Rasmussen Reports poll.

Clinton scored more than twice the total of the No. 2 “anti” pick, Republican Rudy Giuliani, the former New York mayor.

Calling the Obama kettle black

Bill Clinton says Sen. Barack Obama is a highly ambitious, political prodigy who is asking voters to “roll the dice” and elect him president.

He should know — that’s a fair description of Clinton when he sought the presidency in 1992.

The fact that the former president is stealing a page from the same Republican playbook used against him 15 years ago underscores the threat Obama poses to the candidacy of Clinton’s wife, Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton of New York.

It also illustrates Clinton’s penchant for rewriting history.

Faith and reason in politics

On Dec. 6, during a speech in College Station, Texas, Republican presidential candidate George Romney assured America that his membership in the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is a private matter, without implications that should worry anyone about his fitness for the presidency. Some commentators and columnists regretted that he felt a need for such a speech, at all, recalling a similar speech by John F. Kennedy about his Catholicism. That action should have put to rest 40 years ago the matter of religion’s place in politics.

Lieberman will endorse McCain

Sen. John McCain, trying to build momentum toward a reprise of his 2000 New Hampshire primary victory, is piling up high-profile endorsements, including one from another political maverick, Sen. Joseph Lieberman.

The Connecticut senator, an independent who was the Democrats’ 2000 vice presidential nominee, was scheduled to announce his support for McCain at a town hall meeting Monday morning in Hillsborough.

McCain, Clinton win key endorsements

Republican John McCain and Democrat Hillary Clinton got a boost to their campaigns for presidential nominations from an influential newspaper on Sunday despite setbacks in opinion polls.

The Des Moines Register, Iowa’s largest newspaper, endorsed the two candidates for the fast-approaching Iowa caucuses, calling them the best prepared and most tested of the White House contenders.

The paper is an agenda setter in a state where on January 3 voters kick off the state-by-state battle to choose Republican and Democratic candidates in the November 2008 election.

GOP hopefuls haunted by Bush record

Republican White House contender Mike Huckabee refused to apologize Sunday after a rival accused him of insulting President George W. Bush by describing his foreign policy as “arrogant.”

Huckabee butted heads with former Massachusetts governor Mitt Romney after publishing a foreign policy paper calling for American foreign policy to change its “tone and attitude, open up, and reach out.”

“The Bush administration’s arrogant bunker mentality has been counterproductive at home and abroad,” the former Arkansas governor wrote in the journal Foreign Affairs.

Obama, Clinton in dead heat for Iowa

Barack Obama is hitting his stride, just as Hillary Clinton’s Democratic campaign stutters, setting up a closely fought sprint to January’s first White House nominating contest.

With the race a statistical dead heat in Iowa, before the crucial nominating caucuses on January 3, and a dogfight in New Hampshire, which votes five days later, both candidates launched one last push to win over undecided voters in Iowa amid freezing winter weather.

Most surveys show Obama rising, and the longtime frontrunner sliding, suggesting that the young senator’s timing may be spot on.

Just who is Hillary Rodham Clinton?

Hillary Rodham Clinton likes to say she was born in the middle of the country at the middle of the century, in a Chicago suburb that defined a childhood out of “Father Knows Best” or “Ozzie and Harriet.”

Years later, a group of her old teachers and classmates got together with her to reminisce, with a historian to moderate. During the round of introductions, Clinton’s second-grade teacher turned to her and deadpanned: “And who are you?”

“Oh yes,” said the first lady of the United States. “This is the question we’re all trying to answer.”