WASHINGTON, Nov. 15 (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.
New kid on the block -- A new group with an advisory board chaired by former U.S. Secretary of State George P. Shultz to advocate freedom and democracy for Iraq has begun to attract notice in Washington as the nation prepares for war. The Committee for the Liberation of Iraq, a non-governmental entity, has tapped the resources of a group of distinguished Americans who "share a common view on the importance of liberating Iraq and building pluralistic institutions" to participate in its activities.
"The problem in Iraq is not just Saddam Hussein's weapons -- it is Saddam Hussein's regime. The Iraqi people are the first victims of this tyranny," CLI President Randy Scheunemann said in a statement. "For too long, Iraqis have suffered from the regime's brutality, Saddam's criminal pursuit of weapons of mass destruction, and his drive for regional hegemony." Scheunemann concluded, "We believe it is time to confront the clear and present danger posed by Saddam Hussein's regime by liberating the Iraqi people."
Members of the group's advisory board include former U.S. House Speaker Newt Gingrich; former U.S. Sen. Bob Kerrey, D-Neb.; Teamsters President James R. Hoffa, Jr.; Dr. Eliot Cohen of the Johns Hopkins School of Advanced International Studies; former U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Jeane J. Kirkpatrick of the American Enterprise Institute; The Weekly Standard's Bill Kristol; Will Marshall of the Progressive Policy Institute and former U.S. Rep. Steve Solarz, D-N.Y.
Getting a new team ready -- In an interview scheduled to air Friday night on ABC, former Vice President Al Gore says that he would certainly consider asking New York Democrat Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton to be his running mate in 2004 should he win their party's presidential nomination. But Mrs. Clinton apparently has no interest. Her spokesman continues to point out that she is committed to serving out the full six-year term to which she was elected in 2000 -- just as her husband Bill promised in 1990 that he would serve out the full four-year term as governor of Arkansas were the voters of the state to re-elect him.
Needless to say, the idea of Mrs. Clinton on the national Democrat ticket is something over which both parties seem to be salivating. Republicans think she would make it much easier for them to win because her liberal views are so far out of step with the rest of the country. Democrats seem to see her as a potential savior, the light that will guide them out of the party's increasingly dark prospects for the future. More and more it looks like the idea of another Clinton running on the national ticket is a matter of when, not if.
One more -- All of the noise coming from both national parties over the upcoming Landrieu/Terrill Dec. 7 runoff election in Louisiana has obscured the fact that another runoff election is scheduled for the same day. Voters in the state's 5th Congressional District must determine who will fill the seat of retiring GOP Rep. John Cooksey -- who finished out of the money in the Nov. 5 U.S. Senate primary. According to a poll being pushed by the Republicans, Lee Fletcher, once a top Cooksey aide, has a substantial lead over Democrat Rodney Alexander -- 50 percent to 41 percent with a margin of error of plus or minus 4.9 percent. The Public Opinion Strategies poll of 400 likely voters shows Fletcher with a name identification of 87 percent and a 50-to-10 favorable/unfavorable rating. The poll also shows President George W. Bush has a 76 percent approval rating in the district.
Reuse it -- Washington turned its attention to the importance of recycling over the weekend as the nation observed America Recycles Day. Participating in events in the nation's capital were Interior Secretary Gale Norton, Washington's Mayor Anthony Williams and representatives of corporate and environmental groups, who kicked off the first joint federal/district government electronic recycling collection event. The two-day event on the Mall, in front of the Washington Monument, is giving federal and district government employees and all residents of the district the opportunity to bring their old computers and components out of storage and recycle them. Used, broken, or outdated electronics are also being accepted. UNICOR, a government corporation, will recycle items and provide tax donation forms to participants.
Personnel notes -- Adam Goldman is stepping up in the world. The White House has tapped him to replace his now-departed boss, Kirk Blalock, as the office of public liaison's contact to the business community... Kurt Markva, who has spent close to a decade as a top aide to Illinois Republican Rep. Don Manzullo, chairman of the House Small Business Committee, is stepping out into the private sector. He has moved over to Golin/Harris International, becoming the lobbying firm's new senior vice president... The White House has announced the nomination of Air Force Brig. Gen. Mark Rosenker to be a member of the National Transportation Safety Board, for the remainder of a five-year term expiring December 31, 2005.
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