Washington Prowler

The Heinz Boy Goes IHOPping

John Kerry flips and flops along with Sandy Berger. Plus: Who'll ride after Colorado's Nighthorse?

By 3.8.04

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FLIPPING BERGERS
When political web bloggers started highlighting all of the inconsistencies in Sen. John Kerry's voting record and policy positions, the Kerry campaign's response was that if the campaign is going to be about waffling, then bring on the syrup.

At the risk of affecting the maple futures market, let me say, bringing on that much sweet stuff might be too tall an order.

You see, it isn't just candidate Kerry who is doing the waffling in his camp. There is enough flip-flopping going on in Kerry land to make it appears he's operating an International House of Pancakes and not a presidential campaign.

Kerry's foreign policy team has spent the past six months bad-mouthing, poo-pooing, and tut-tutting the efforts of the United States military and diplomacy in the liberation of Iraq.

His campaign has released more than 15 policy papers criticizing the Bush administration's Iraqi reconstruction efforts. All of these papers, one could assume, were the result of careful research and knowledgeable insight.

Yet on March 7, Kerry pulled out his spatula. He announced that in order for his policy team to understand what was going on in Iraq, he would send his advisers over there to get the straight dope.

Meanwhile, Kerry adviser and former Clinton national security adviser Sandy Berger has been weighing in on the Homeland Security Department. In a February 27 speech at UCLA, Berger and Kerry's staff had the candidate say this: "...by virtually every measure, we still have a homeland security strategy that falls far short of the vulnerabilities we have and the threats we face.… [I]f we are going to be serious about the War on Terror, we need to be much more serious about homeland security. President Bush says we can't afford to fund homeland security. I say we can't afford not to."

Funny, that's not what Berger is telling clients who pay him for the best and most accurate information he can provide. A number of U.S. and foreign companies pay Berger and his Stonebridge International consulting firm big bucks so that these companies can make even bigger bucks from government contracts. Take a look at what Berger the businessman and not the political hack wrote in a report circulated to clients and entitled, "Key Private Sector Implications of the FY 2005 Homeland Security Budget Request":

"This second budget request for the Department of Homeland Security demonstrates that the department is overcoming its growing pains and taking a long-term, strategic focus to homeland security challenges in the United States."

So who should the American public believe, the Sandy Berger who's providing gratis help to Kerry? Or the Sandy Berger who's telling paying clients that Bush's Homeland Security Department is focused and prepared for anything?

COLORADO STIRRINGS
According to National Republican Senatorial Committee staffers, President Bush placed a call to U.S. Rep. Scott McInnis of Colorado, encouraging him to run for the Senate seat currently held by retiring Sen. Ben Nighthorse Campbell.

Gov. Bill Owens was thought to be the first choice of the White House, but as a sitting governor with national political aspirations and a fresh marital separation to clean up, Owens is now telling associates he would prefer not to step into the Senate race.

McInnis, who regardless was retiring from the House, wasn't planning on a Senate try in part because Campbell, until his surprise announcement last week, had sad he was running. Now McInnis, with $1.3 million in the bank, is the Republican Party's best chance of holding the critical seat.

As seems to now be the norm, Democrats are having problems with candidate selection. Campbell had scared off both former Sen. Gary Hart and Rep. Mark Udall from challenging him, but now that he's gone, Udall at least is making noises about entering the race.

Democratic Senate candidate recruiter, Sen. Jon Corzine (N.J.) had found a sucker -- er, candidate -- to challenge Campbell, computer software entrepreneur Rutt Bridges, who announced he was willing to commit $5 million of his own dough to the race. Now Corzine is trying to shoo off Udall from challenging his pal with the moneybags.

"With Bridges, the national party doesn't have to give him much to run. For Udall, we'd have to invest millions to make the race competitive," says a Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee staffer. "We want Bridges and to clear the field for him if we can."

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