WASHINGTON — Sen. John McCain, who was the darling of the political press corps during the 2000 election cycle, complains to friends that he is getting much rougher treatment from the news media than his competitors for the 2008 Republican presidential nomination, Rudy Giuliani and Mitt Romney.
McCain feels that his support for President Bush’s Iraq policy has soured his erstwhile reporter friends. Although Giuliani and Romney also have been criticized by the media, McCain privately expresses the view that they have gotten off easy.
A footnote: McCain insiders, worried about his campaign balance sheet, feel the campaign must raise $20 million in this quarter and fear that might be a goal too high. Friends of the senator say his staff is too large and spends too much money.
ANOTHER DEMOCRATIC SURGE?
Private House Democratic polls of the 50 most competitive congressional districts project a gain of 9 to 11 seats in the 2008 elections that would be an unprecedented further surge by the party following its 2006 gain of 30 seats that won control of the House.
All previous major surges of House seats have been followed by losses in the next election. The 54-seat Republican gain in 1994 that produced GOP House control was followed by an eight-seat loss in 1996. However, the current Republican political slump, fueled by President Bush’s unpopularity, would reverse that pattern if the election were held today, according to the Democratic polls.
The incumbent Republican House members who won by less than 2 percent of the vote in 2006 and are targeted for 2008 include Reps. Heather Wilson (N.M.), Deborah Pryce (Ohio), Mike Ferguson (N.J.), Jon Porter (Nev.), Jim Gerlach (Pa.) and Jean Schmidt (Ohio).
Fred Thompson’s unannounced candidacy for the Republican presidential nomination will go to Stamford, Conn., May 24 for the Connecticut GOP’s annual Prescott Bush dinner.
“We’re obviously excited out of our minds about it,” the party’s state chairman, Robert M. Duncan, told this column. He was delighted that Connecticut had gotten the popular actor-politician ahead of Virginia’s June 2 party fundraiser.
A footnote: Without announcing his candidacy, Thompson has won straw polls at the Oklahoma Republican convention, the Pennsylvania Leadership Conference, the California Republican Assembly and Georgia’s 9th Congressional District party convention.
Sen. Chuck Hagel, facing opposition from the right wing of the Nebraska Republican Party, is expected to decide within the next two and one-half months what he will do in 2008: run for president, seek a third term in the Senate, or neither.
Hagel has been testing the presidential waters in Iowa and New Hampshire over the past several months. He would be the only major Republican presidential prospect who opposes President Bush’s Iraq war policy.
His stance on the war may force a contested Nebraska primary against Hagel, who has been the state’s most popular Republican in a generation. State Atty. Gen. Jon Bruning has withdrawn his earlier support for Hagel and indicated he may run against him for the Republican nomination for the Senate. However, Hagel would be backed by Gov. Dave Heineman and other prominent Nebraska Republicans.
Rep. Charles Rangel, the normally courtly House Ways and Means Committee chairman, in an interview in the current edition of Vibe magazine said, “I think” that Vice President Dick Cheney “has a personality disorder.”
As quoted by the black entertainment magazine, Rangel continued: “There’s no question about it. There are some people that have an unpleasant demeanor, and they always have a scowl. I don’t know this guy that well. But I can’t see him telling a joke unless it’s a dirty joke.”
In the same interview, Rangel said of George W. Bush: “The president is one of the most pleasant slap-on-the-back, fun people you want to talk with . . . but you always leave not knowing whether he knows what’s going on.”