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TOP OF THE TICKET

Hey, GOP, Rush isn't happy

January 27, 2008|DON FREDERICK AND ANDREW MALCOLM

Good news for Rush-haters.

Not only has the controversial conservative radio talk-show host got a sore throat, but he's anguishing over the inadequacy of the current field of Republican presidential candidates.

Finally, he'd had enough of these impure candidates and all these questions about his endorsement, and he just blurted out to Jim in Kansas City and a few million others listening in: "I can see possibly not supporting a Republican nominee."

What?!

Across the country, people were dropping their coffee cups, choking on sandwiches, fainting and driving off the road. The king of conservative talk radio not supporting the Republican nominee? "And I never thought that I would say that in my life. This stuff is very tough."

No kidding. It's tough enough just listening to him. "You don't have a genuine down-the-list conservative," he noted. So, he advised, a Republican voter must look at "variables."

For example, Rush said: "It's easier for me to support a Romney than a McCain, for example. Because I believe his conversion is genuine. And he's not lying about his past positions. He's not trying to tell people they're wrong when they assess his past positions. He explains why he changed his mind."

Finally, Rush was running out of time. "I'm telling ya," he said, "it's gonna come down to which guy do we dislike the least. And that's not necessarily good."

Why Thompson ran, er, make that walked

Now that he's dropped out of the Republican race, we get an inside inkling of why Fred Thompson really became a presidential candidate.

According to the campaign blog of Carl Cameron, chief political correspondent of Fox News, last spring at a conservative convention in Washington, Thompson aides and friends began whispering that the former Tennessee senator was pondering a White House bid. Those anonymous tips quickly made their way into media reports.

What didn't get reported was that some of those same aides also told him strictly off the record that the murmurs were really a trial balloon to gauge his political popularity and insert Thompson's name into the inevitable vice presidential sweepstakes.

In March, the aides said, Thompson did not intend to run for president.

Thompson was caught off-guard and unprepared for a complex, massive effort like a national presidential campaign, which explains the staff disorganization and delays of anticipated announcements throughout the summer. And to questions over the fire in his belly to reach the White House.

Now Thompson can sit back and see if the eventual GOP nominee does call him to become No. 2. A key indicator will be if Thompson endorses longtime Senate friend John McCain. That would likely take him out of the VP sweepstakes. If he doesn't endorse anyone, well, then this time we'll know what's really going on.

5-year-olds ask

the darnedest things

Art Linkletter knew the dangers of talking with children in public. But former President Clinton didn't -- or forgot -- for a minute during one of his South Carolina campaign stops. And he paid the price.

Bill Clinton is not running for office, of course, but he traipsed all over the state attacking Sen. Barack Obama. So there he was, in front of another audience of 400 in another community center. And the former president chose to call on little McKenna Chance, who is 5. She looked so innocent.

"What do you do when you get married?" the girl asked.

Dead silence. Then nervous laughter. Crowd members were thinking about some things. So was Clinton.

Clinton collected himself for his answer to McKenna. No mention of the soap operas from his administration in the 1990s. Instead, he described marriage as idyllic if your spouse becomes your best friend and you have children together.

He said that he and his wife, Hillary, had achieved both.

--

Excerpted from The Times' political blog, Top of the Ticket, at www.latimes.com/ topoftheticket.

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