Capital Comment for January 16, 2003

Capital Comment — Daily news notes, political rumors, and important events that shape politics and public policy in Washington and the world from United Press International.

Hitting the ground running…

The presidential campaign of Massachusetts Sen. John F. Kerry is off to a fast start. Moments before President George W. Bush was due to make an official statement of administration policy on the University of Michigan affirmative action case, Kerry’s campaign released a strongly worded statement critical of Bush.

“In their first significant opportunity to show a more inclusive side of the Republican Party, the Bush administration has decided to intervene and try to undermine Michigan’s efforts. The Bush administration continues a disturbing pattern of using the rhetoric of diversity as a substitute for real progress on a civil rights agenda,” Kerry’s statement read.

Bush announced that his administration would be filing a brief in support of the plaintiffs’ contention that the University of Michigan unfairly considers the race of applicants in making decisions as to who will be admitted.

Getting close…

Former Republican National Committee Chairman Haley Barbour, currently a well-respected and highly paid Washington attorney and lobbyist, is reportedly getting closer to announcing his candidacy for governor of his home state of Mississippi. A letter to potential campaign donors is, according to a source, arriving in homes indicating Barbour’s intention to become only the state’s second Republican governor since reconstruction.

Mark your calendar…

With the 30th anniversary of the Roe v. Wade decision that legalized abortion on demand in the United States, President George W. Bush has proclaimed Jan. 19, as National Sanctity of Human Life Day.

In his proclamation, the president said, “Our Nation was built on a promise of life and liberty for all citizens. Guided by a deep respect for human dignity, our Founding Fathers worked to secure these rights for future generations, and today we continue to seek to fulfill their promise in our laws and our society. On National Sanctity of Human Life Day, we reaffirm the value of human life and renew our dedication to ensuring that every American has access to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.”

On Wednesday, Jan. 22, tens of thousands of protestors will gather in Washington for the annual March for Life, a mass protest against legal abortion in America.

Dire straits…

The news that Randall Terry, founder of the anti-abortion group Operation Rescue, is in dire financial straits has prompted a fundraising campaign on his behalf. A letter is circulating among activists signed by former GOP presidential candidate Alan Keyes and other prominent abortion opponents that calls on “the pro-life community” to band together “to replace what was consumed by the locusts.”

Terry attorney Jim Cerbone, in a companion letter says several prominent liberal and pro-abortion rights organizations “have easily cost Randall the loss of over $200,000” as a result of suits brought against him According to Cerbone’s letter, Terry’s “home was sold, and Randall’s equity was given to those who sued him. Bank accounts were seized … they even took his frequent flyer miles.”

Calling the outcome of the court case “a grave injustice,” the letter asks for contributions of between $25 and $1,000 to go into a Terry Family Trust that has been set up to be outside any settlement. Cerbone says, “The danger or any further seizure of assets is now behind Randall, and anything you give is safe from being taken by Randall’s political enemies.”


U.S. Rep. Johnny Isakson, R-Ga., is the first GOP House member to toss his hat into the 2004 senatorial ring. Sen. Zell Miller, D-Ga., a conservative Democrat, has announced he will not be a candidate for election to a full term — setting off a scramble as both parties look for a replacement.

Isakson was first elected to Congress in a 1999 special election to fill the seat left vacant after former House Speaker Newt Gingrich resigned from his position and refused to accept his certificate of election.

Isakson is the most liberal of the Republican members of the Georgia delegation and is likely not the only Republican who will make the race. Other names being suggested are U.S. Reps. Jack Kingston and Mac Collins, former U.S. Rep. Bob Barr, and Bob Irvin, the former GOP leader in the Georgia state House who lost the party’s 2002 senate primary. Isakson is taking a gamble but, if more than one conservative enters the race against him and splits the vote, it may pay off big for him.

Personnel notes…

President George W. Bush has named Paul Beckner, president of Citizens for a Sound Economy, an economic policy organization, and James Hoffa, general president of the International Brotherhood of Teamsters, to two-year terms as members of the federal Advisory Committee for Trade Policy and Negotiations… The president has announced his intention to nominate Vernon B. Parker of Arizona, to be the new assistant secretary of agriculture for civil rights. Parker, for the last two years the interim senior pastor at the Calvary Church of the Valley in Paradise Valley, Ariz., is the former president and CEO of BelSante International LLC, an international nutritional supplement company.