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UPI's Capital Comment for Feb. 26, 2003

Feb. 26, 2003 at 2:41 PM   |   Comments

WASHINGTON, Feb. 26 (UPI) -- 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.

Breaking ranks...

Florida Sen. Bill Nelson, a Democrat, has broken with his party and will not support the filibuster being waged by his colleagues against President George W. Bush's nomination of Miguel Estrada to a seat on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit.

Nelson announced on the Senate floor Tuesday that he would vote for Estrada's nomination. "After reviewing Mr. Estrada's personal and professional credentials -- including personally interviewing the nominee -- I believe he is qualified to serve on the D.C. Circuit Court -- and, I will vote in favor of his nomination," Nelson said.

Nelson's announcement brings the total of votes for Estrada to 55 -- enough to confirm but five votes short of what is needed to stop the filibuster and move to a vote.


Is new PETA pro-animal initiative in bad taste?

The Anti-Defamation League is denouncing the new "Holocaust on Your Plate" campaign organized by the radical pro-mammal organization People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals because it trivializes "the murder of 6 million Jews."

PETA has asked the American Jewish community to give its approval to the campaign, consisting of eight over-sized panels showing photos "of factory farm and slaughterhouse scenes side by side with photos from Nazi death camps" that will tour the United States.

ADL's National Director, Abe Foxman, says "effort(s) by PETA to compare the deliberate systematic murder of millions of Jews to the issue of animal rights is abhorrent. PETA's effort to seek 'approval' for their 'Holocaust on Your Plate' campaign is outrageous, offensive and takes chutzpah to new heights."

"Abusive treatment of animals should be opposed, but cannot and must not be compared to the Holocaust. The uniqueness of human life is the moral underpinning for those who resisted the hatred of Nazis and others ready to commit genocide even today," he says.

Through a spokesman, PETA says the ADL's "understating and compassion and empathy on this issue is dangerously narrow" though they acknowledge its good work on a host of other issues.


A little bird told me...

The state of play in Florida politics is in limbo while U.S. Sen. Bob Graham, a Democrat, considers a run for the White House. Graham is recovering from heart surgery that recent reports say was more far-reaching that originally anticipated. Nevertheless, says the Miami Herald, the state's senior senator and former governor says he is "rested, energetic and ready" to run for his party's presidential nomination in 2004.

The paper says the only factor holding up a formal announcement of a presidential run is a final sign-off from his doctors, which, the Herald says, Graham expects to get in a few weeks.

His intentions are the subject of intense speculation because he must also decide whether he will seek a fourth term in the Senate. Under Florida law, Graham cannot qualify to run for two offices at the same time so, according to the office of the secretary of state, he can be on the national ticket or run for re-election -- not both. Candidate filing ends at noon on July 16, 2004, which gives him plenty of time to re-enter the Senate race if the presidential campaign is not working out as he hoped.

This pretty much guarantees that any of the Democrats in the state's congressional delegation who are thinking about a bid to replace him will have to plan on not coming back to Congress if they lose.

On the GOP side, rumors that additional candidates might enter the race continue. Among those thought to be looking at the race are former Florida Secretary of State and current U.S. Rep. Katherine Harris and state Rep. Johnnie Byrd, the speaker of the Florida House of Representatives. The thinking among some political operatives is that lots of people are waiting to see what Graham decides to do before they make their own decision.


In...

Democrat Ronnie Musgrove's road to re-election as Mississippi governor just got a lot bumpier. Trial attorney John Arthur Eaves, Jr., a former political ally, entered the race Monday on a platform of protecting citizens' rights, including the right to free speech and the right to trial by jury.

As the Jackson, Miss., Clarion-Ledger reports, Eaves has "for months ... run television ads criticizing Musgrove for calling a special session and signing a bill that caps pain-and-suffering awards in malpractice lawsuits."

As of now, Haley Barbour, former chairman of the Republican National Committee, is unopposed for the GOP nomination. Musgrove has yet to file his re-election papers but is widely expected to do so although there is speculation -- which his staff is downplaying in the state press -- that he might have an interest in assuming the presidency of Delta State University. The qualifying deadline for the race is Saturday.


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