Politics

Rudy and Mitt spit and spat

Republican presidential hopefuls Mitt Romney and Rudy Giuliani quarreled over tax and spending cuts Tuesday, each claiming greater commitment than the other in a debate in the nation’s struggling manufacturing heartland.

The government “is spending money of future generations and those yet to be born,” added Fred Thompson, making his debut on a debate stage after a late entry into the race. He said future retirees should receive smaller Social Security benefits than they have been promised.

Bartlett on Fred: ‘He’s a dud’

Dan Bartlett used to speak for President Bush, one of his most trusted and ubiquitous aides for 14 years.

Now, Bartlett is speaking for himself, and handicapping the Republican presidential field with uncommon candor and surprising conclusions.

His vote for all-around “best candidate?” Mike Huckabee, the former Arkansas governor considered a long-shot to break into the top tier in the crowded race.

“Biggest dud?” Fred Thompson, the actor-politician who raised hopes he could be the GOP’s next Ronald Reagan until his campaign began stumbling.

Thompson sticks to dull script

Fred Thompson remembered his lines in his first stage performance.

The newcomer to the Republican presidential field neither stood out nor bombed Tuesday in his inaugural debate of the 2008 White House race. He largely held his own but hardly came off as the Ronald Reagan-like savior of the GOP that backers have long built him up to be.

A liberal by any other name

Happily, fiercely emboldened by an unpopular Republican president, liberals have been trying to cover up past political sins by renaming themselves “progressives” even as they resume their bad, old ways with more loud-voiced arrogance than ever.

Those ways include program proposals filled more with good intentions than good sense if they are in fact something other than outright hoaxes, along with debate tactics that merrily skip over any discussion of an issue’s merits. There’s something else, you see, that better fits their analytical inadequacies: ad hominem attack.

Union says ‘nada’ to Democrats

None of the Democratic presidential primary contenders will get the endorsement they’ve been fervently seeking from the Service Employees International Union, an especially painful blow to John Edwards.

The union said Monday it won’t choose a national candidate for the primary elections, underscoring divisions that had been apparent among SEIU supporters of Edwards and the Democrats he trails in national polls: Hillary Rodham Clinton and Barack Obama.

Still socialist after all these years

With her intimidating lead in the polls, Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton’s presidential juggernaut looks increasingly unstoppable. This may have emboldened the New York Democrat to stop masquerading as a moderate and instead flaunt her full-throated, left-wing radicalism.

With a Sept. 27-30 ABC News/Washington Post poll showing her eclipsing Sen. Barack Obama, D-Ill., 53 percent to his 20, the ever-calculating Clinton now may feel free to peddle higher-octane liberalism.

Consider her Sept. 28 pitch to a Congressional Black Caucus symposium:

Can Clinton win? Good question

Irony followed Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton to a show barn at the Johnson County fairgrounds on Saturday night.

She made a big splash at the local Democratic Party’s fall barbecue when she led 85-year-old George McGovern to the stage to give her a rousing endorsement there among the hay bales.

Hillary leads in Iowa poll

Hillary Rodham Clinton has taken the lead among Democratic presidential candidates in an Iowa poll, an encouraging sign of progress toward overcoming a big hurdle in the race.

Although the New York senator is the clear front-runner in national surveys, Iowa has remained an elusive prize. She has been in a tight race with John Edwards and Barack Obama in the state that begins the primary campaign voting in three months.

Clinton aide works for Blackwater

Senator Hillary Clinton’s top consultant in her campaign for President is also head of the giant public relations company that helped Blackwater USA CEO Erik Prince prepare his lies-filled testimony to Congress this week.

Mark Penn, in addition to advising Clinton in her bid to become President, is the President and CEO of Burson-Marsteller, the giant worldwide public relations firm that helps companies in trouble with the law. Burson-Marsteller worked for Prince in preparing rationalizations for the murder of 17 Iraqi civilians by Blackwater mercenaries in a massacre in Iraq.

Prince’s testimony before Congress this week has been largely discredited by reports prepared for both Congress and the Pentagon.

Ron Paul raises $5 million

Long-shot Republican presidential candidate Ron Paul raised a surprising $5 million during the past three months, capitalizing on his stance as the only anti-war contender in the GOP field.

Paul, a Texas congressman who once ran for president as a Libertarian, also will report having $5.3 million cash on hand, campaign spokesman Jesse Benton said.