Some of the GOP candidates were in Iowa over the weekend at a forum that featured both conservative tax activists and key social conservatives. With Romney leading in Iowa and by being the only front-runner to show up, he was the target of the second-tier candidates.
Ex-Washington Post gossip columnist Lloyd Grove finds his way back in the Post with a Gingrich profile. What caught most folks' eyes: Gingrich's comments on Fred Thompson. Gingrich: "'I think he becomes the establishment alternative,' Gingrich says. 'I've been fond of Fred ever since "The Hunt for Red October." I think he was totally convincing as an admiral.' What about Thompson's reputation for being the opposite of a workaholic? 'I don't think it's a matter of working all that hard and being all that intense if he can put together a fairly bold, Sarkozy-like program,' Gingrich says, referring to the just-elected center-right president of France. 'Fred is not Ronald Reagan, but he could be Dwight Eisenhower.' But could he have organized D-Day? 'No,' Gingrich chuckles, 'but Eisenhower couldn't have been in "The Hunt for Red October."'"
It looks like one of the campaign's most ardent foes -- dare we call them Swift Boat firemen? -- will be New York City firefighters. But the campaign is not going to let their charges go unanswered.One of the more under-reported parts of last week's SCOTUS rulings was what it means for Giuliani. Will social conservatives uneasy with Giuliani's positions on key social issues give him a pass, since it appears that the Court has moved to the right enough that nothing will be at risk?
It's McCain's sixth trip to Iraq. "The senator last was in Iraq in April and was criticized for saying he was cautiously optimistic of success even as he toured Baghdad under heavy military guard. Iraqis accused him of painting too rosy a picture and U.S. critics argued he was out of step with reality." Meanwhile, this is the header over a weekend Los Angeles Times piece: "McCain: once favorite, now finished?" It just goes to show the point we've been emphasizing for a few weeks: the media is determined to eliminate some of these candidates. But ask yourself: What incentive does McCain have for getting out now considering how none of his 3 main rivals seems to have locked up anything.
Don't miss the McCain's Q&A in the New York Daily News on Sunday, which served as a preview of his Iraq trip.
July 1st marked the first day that Massachusetts' mandatory (car insurance-like) health-care program went into effect. "Although July 1 marks the beginning of the 'individual mandate' -- the legal obligation to obtain health insurance -- the real deadline is Dec. 31. When Massachusetts residents file their state tax returns next spring, they must certify that they had acceptable coverage as of the end of 2007 -- or lose the $219 personal exemption. The penalty grows steeper in subsequent years, big enough, officials hope, to persuade most holdouts to get coverage."
At a Christian conservative forum in Iowa, Romney responded to questions over his Mormon faith by saying, "The Bible for me is the word of God. I also believe that Jesus Christ is my savior." The Sunday Des Moines Register says, "Many conservative Christians are quietly nervous about Romney's religion."
In a somewhat contentious moment at the forum, according to the Sunday New York Daily News, "one voter asked Romney which religious text he'd rely on more for inspiration as President: the Bible or the Book of Mormon." Romney replied: "I don't know that there's any conflict at all between the values of great faiths like mine, like yours, like other faiths, like Jews who don't believe in the New Testament."
Saturday's Boston Globe ran Part 7 of its series on Romney, and it explored his stance shifts, his ambition, and his willingness to reach across the aisle and work to find a health-care solution.
More on Romney's dog: Ann Romney writes a blog entry on the Romney "Five Brothers" blog: "Surprise, surprise, the media didn't get the dog story right. Our dog Seamus rode in an ENCLOSED kennel, not in the open air. And he loved it. Every time he saw it, he jumped up on the tailgate, walked in, and lay down. It was just like the kennel he curled up in at home."
Campaigning in Iowa, Tancredo called out Giuliani and Brownback by name on the issue of immigration. By the way, we haven't touched on this before, but doesn't the end of the immigration debate hurt Tancredo in the long run? F. THOMPSON:
Tough to be the outsider when you have so many lobbying ties, right? The New York Times profiles Thompson's two sons and their lobbying careers. "The lobbying work that Tony Thompson and another son, Daniel, did after their father won his Senate seat suggests how far the family has traveled from Fred Thompson's early career. Not only has he parlayed his own political background into a lobbying business — a fact his opponents have seized on to challenge his outsider image — but his sons have also made lobbying a family affair."
Thompson's camp ought to view this story as a warning shot that he only has a small window of opportunity to define his image.
The Washington Post notes Thompson has essentially shifted from exploring candidate to likely candidate. "But even as he rushes to assemble the infrastructure for a presidential campaign, he is still struggling to define what his candidacy, and a potential Thompson presidency, will be about. Will he embrace his Southern drawl and campaign, as fellow Tennessean Lamar Alexander once did, in a Paul Bunyan-esque shirt? Or will he tout his decades as a Capitol Hill staff member, lobbyist, lawyer, senator and friend to the powerful?"