UPI's Capital Comment for Oct. 9, 2002

By United Press International   |   Oct. 9, 2002 at 5:06 PM
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WASHINGTON, Oct. 9 (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.

Tape case comes unstuck -- It looks like Iowa Republican Rep. Greg Ganske is not going to get his wish. On Monday, federal and county prosecutors announced that no crimes had been committed when campaign aides to Sen. Tom Harkin, D-Iowa, sent a former Harkin aide, masquerading as a Republican donor and carrying a tape recorder, into a Ganske donors' briefing, made a transcript of the event, leaked it to a political reporter and then lied about it.

Polk County Attorney John Sarcone, a Democrat, said, "No charges should be brought... no laws had been violated." The Harkin campaign says those involved are no longer in its employ. Polls continue to show the three-term Harkin leading four-term GOP U.S. Rep. Ganske as the race comes down to the wire.

Facts and figures -- A new poll for the Newark Star-Ledger contains some very interesting numbers on the new Lautenberg-Forrester race for Bob Torricelli's U.S. Senate seat. When asked if the Democrats should have been allowed to replace Torricelli's name on the ballot with Lautenberg's, Democrats approved, 70 percent to 20 percent while Republicans objected, 63 percent to 22 percent -- no surprises there.

One of the more remarkable numbers, because of what it portends for next months election, is that self-described Independents, by only a 46 percent to 40 percent margin -- which indicates that a hidden backlash against Lautenberg among voters he cannot afford to lose to Forrester may be coming.

How do you tell an Indian? -- Sen. George Allen's, R-Va., legislation granting federal recognition to six Indian tribes in his states comes up this week before the Senate Committee on Indian Affairs. Carrying the name of a legendary Virginia activist for Indian rights, Allen's Thomasina E. Jordan Indian Tribes of Virginia Federal Recognition Act would grant federal recognition to the Chickahominy Tribe, the Chickahominy Indian Tribe - Eastern Division, the Upper Mattaponi Tribe, the Rappahannock Tribe Inc., the Monacan Tribe and the Nansemond Tribe.

During his four years as governor, Allen established a strong record of support for these, the real "FFVs" -- for first families of Virginia.

Crossing the line --- Republicans in Oregon were pleased and Democrats outraged by the news that popular former U.S Rep. Elizabeth Furse, a Democrat, has given a glowing endorsement to Republican U.S. Sen. Gordon Smith in his bid for re-election. New polls show Smith opening up a wide lead over his opponent, Oregon Secretary of State Bill Bradbury.

Meanwhile in Texas, former state Attorney General Dan Morales, who earlier this year lost the Democrat primary for governor to businessman Tony Sanchez has endorsed Gov. Rick Perry, a Republican, for re-election. "My love for Texas demands that I place politics and partisanship aside in favor of supporting the candidate in this campaign whose election would clearly be in the best interest of Texas," Morales said.

Mixed blessing -- A national Islamic advocacy group is questioning a federal grant headed to a group started by evangelist Pat Robertson. The Council on American-Islamic Relations is asking the decision to award the grant be reconsidered over Robertson's recent anti-Muslim statements.

Operation Blessing International, a charity created by Robertson, is scheduled to receive one of the first grants to be distributed under the president's new faith-based initiative -- a program Robertson ironically criticized since it was first proposed. The Operation Blessing grant is one of 25 to be announced this week by Health and Human Services Secretary Tommy G. Thompson.

In a recent appearance on Fox News Channel's "Hannity & Colmes" program, Robertson had unkind words to say about Islam and its prophet, Muhammad, calling him "This man was an absolute wild-eyed fanatic... a robber and a brigand. And to say that these terrorists distort Islam, they're carrying out Islam...I mean, this man was a killer."

A hole, not a fence -- The Center for Trade Policy Studies, a division of the libertarian Cato institute, will host a speech on Oct. 17 by James Ziglar, the commissioner of the Immigration and Naturalization Service. Ziglar, who is leaving his post at the end of the year, will offer his reflections on the conflicts inherent in a free society where issues of immigration and border security are concerned. The speech begins at noon and a free lunch is provided.

It easy being green -- The Sierra Club, the liberal environmental group, kicked off an ad campaign Monday in eight states, seeking to inject their definition of environmentalism into the elections. The races being targeted are (incumbents listed first): Allard v. Strickland in Colo.; Cleland v. Chambliss in Ga.; Harkin v. Ganske in Iowa; Wellstone v. Coleman in Minn.; Carnahan v. Talent in Mo.; Sununu v. Shaheen in N.H.; Dole v. Bowles in N.C.; and Smith v. Bradbury in Ore.

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