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N.Y. mayor says he's still not running for president


Once again, New York Mayor Mike Bloomberg says he is not running for president. Still. He says on his own website that he was asked about it again in Washington. He doesn't say who asked him again, but it must have been someone who hasn't read or heard the mayor's last 20 coy denials.

So now as long as he says someone brought it up again, Bloomberg proceeds to discuss the issue again. He says, "Are you running?" is the wrong question, even though you have to run before you get elected. And he says the question is not who is the best candidate either, even though that's supposed to be what this confounded party primary-caucus business is all about. He says the real question is, who will be the best president? That makes sense.

Then the former Democrat-turned-Republican-turned-independent proceeds to write a short essay that sounds suspiciously like a mini-stump speech of the sort we're all hearing a lot of these days if we're listening.

A Clinton lunch -- at a price

Table for four, please, courtesy of the Clintons.

In an e-mail Bill Clinton sent to backers of his wife's presidential bid, he tells of a special engagement. A supporter, who can bring a guest, soon will be picked to have lunch with Hillary Clinton. And Bill has invited himself along.

"I hear you might be having lunch with Hillary -- do you mind if I drop in?" the former president asks in his message.

An offer that can't be refused, truly. There's a hook, of course. To be part of the contestant pool, you had to contribute to Hillary's campaign by Friday midnight (underscoring how there are no free lunches).

The fundraising gambit featuring the pair coincides with a column by the Washington Post's David Broder, that offers his reflections on the front-runner in the Democratic presidential race. It concludes: "But one thing is absolutely clear. Her marriage is the central fact in her life, and this partnership of Bill and Hillary Clinton is indissoluble. She cannot function without him, and he would not have been president without her. If she becomes president, he will play as central a role in her presidency as she did in his. And that is something the country will have to ponder."

For better or worse, as it were.

And now a word about Freddie

Before we get too far into the brand-new presidential campaign of Fred Thompson, which began in the wee hours of Thursday at, we need to talk for a minute about Freddie.

Official marriage, birth and divorce records in Alabama and Tennessee show that the newest Republican presidential contender was born not Fred but Freddie Dalton Thompson. (His mother, who lives outside Nashville, refuses to explain how this came to be.)

Thompson was known as Freddie growing up in Lawrence County, Tenn. And he used Freddie through college and law school. But when he returned home to practice law, his wife's uncle wisely advised him to "get rid of this Freddie business," and he wisely listened.

Bobby Alford, a local historian in Lawrenceburg who was Freddie's Babe Ruth baseball coach, recalls that on a visit home from Washington shortly after his 1994 election to the U.S. Senate, Thompson told all his hometown friends: "You all ever need anything up there, you call the girl in my office, and when you do, call me Freddie. . . . She'll know you're from Lawrenceburg and take care of you."

Indeed, a few years later when a group of some 30 Tennesseans lost their tickets for a long-awaited tour of the Capitol, Alford tried the trick and the group immediately got replacement tickets. "Freddie," Alford recalls, "was the magic word."

Daily Kos cleared

In a little-noticed ruling, the Federal Election Commission decided that blogs -- even those that advocate the election of the most wonderful, thoughtful and outstanding candidate you can imagine or the ones that denigrate corrupt, two-faced Neanderthals -- are actually media entities that are not required to meet federal campaign finance regulations.

That's a relief for Daily Kos, the widely-read electronic bible for many liberals. In an FEC complaint last month, a conservative blogger named John C.A. Bambenek argued that the site should comply with finance laws because it amounts to "a gift of free advertising and candidate media services."

The FEC said nope.

The commission also threw out a complaint by Rep. Mary Bono, a California Republican, who charged that her Democratic opponent last fall collaborated with a blogger to advocate her defeat. The FEC called the blogger a volunteer -- and while Bono lost the argument, she did win the election.

Red click, blue click

They aren't exactly votes, but if the presidential election was decided by Web page views, it would be Democratic Sen. Barack Obama facing off against former Sen. Fred Thompson for the Republicans -- with Obama winning in a landslide.

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