Byline: Greg Pierce, THE WASHINGTON TIMES
Hatch vs. Leahy
Although the much-anticipated Supreme Court nomination fight over Judge Samuel A. Alito Jr. has turned out to be something of a dud, there have been a few feisty exchanges. Among the snippiest was the floor spat Wednesday between Sen. Patrick J. Leahy, Vermont Democrat, and Sen. Orrin G. Hatch, Utah Republican.
Mr. Hatch had dismissed Mr. Leahy's hyperbole about the threat to American liberties posed by Judge Alito. Speaking later, Mr. Leahy angrily chided Mr. Hatch.
"On several occasions, both publicly and privately, I've asked the distinguished senior senator from Utah if he purports to quote me to try to at least get within the ballpark of accuracy," Mr. Leahy said. At this, Mr. Hatch asked to respond, but Mr. Leahy refused to surrender the microphone.
"I would like to find the quote where I said Judge Alito all by himself would do away with the liberties of Americans," Mr. Leahy said.
Well, by the next morning, Mr. Hatch found the following prepared statement from Mr. Leahy: "This is a nomination that I fear threatens the fundamental rights and liberties of all Americans now and in generations to come."
Mr. Hatch said: "I was not only in the ballpark, I was standing on home plate."
A confident Romney
Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney, edging ever closer to a presidential run, says he isn't afraid that evangelical and born-again Christian voters will stiff-arm him in the 2008 GOP primaries just because he's a Mormon.
The Republican also told reporters yesterday that his views on abortion have changed, because of research into stem cells, and as a result, he now thinks "life begins at conception."
"I am firmly pro-life. Each state should able to adopt its own policies with regard to abortion and choice," Mr. Romney said at a press luncheon at the Capital Hilton.
He said most voters in his state are Catholics, but they could not care less about his religion.
Mr. Romney had a busy day in Washington, speaking first to a Medicaid reform commission, then a Christian Science Monitor luncheon for the press and finally at the Heritage Foundation, reports Ralph Z. Hallow of The Washington Times.
Two Senate Democrats called yesterday for the appointment of a special counsel to take over the investigation of the corruption scandal spawned by former lobbyist Jack Abramoff.
The switch "would ensure that the investigation and prosecution will proceed without fear or favor and provide the public with full confidence that no one in this country is above the law," Sens. Charles E. Schumer of New York and Ken Salazar of Colorado wrote Attorney General Alberto R. Gonzales.
The two Democrats said that so far, the public-integrity section of the Justice Department, which is in charge of the probe, has "pursued this case appropriately."
Mr. Schumer and Mr. Salazar sent their letter several days after Democrats pressed the White House for information on contacts between the president, or other top officials, and Abramoff.
Foot in mouth
A Pennsylvania gubernatorial candidate challenging Pro Football Hall of Fame member Lynn Swann in the Republican primary fired his campaign manager after the man told a televised call-in show: "The rich white guy in this campaign is Lynn Swann."
Bill Scranton, a former lieutenant governor who is white and comes from a wealthy family, also issued an apology to Mr. …