In the June 22 edition of his daily "Politico Playbook," Politico chief political correspondent Mike Allen praised former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney's (R) June 21 speech on national security at the American Enterprise Institute's World Forum as "very ambitious and serious" and dubbed Romney "Multimedia Mitt," inviting readers to "[c]heck out the 31 Power Point slides former Gov. Romney used last night." Allen, however, offered no explanation as to why Romney's speech was, as he put it, "very ambitious and serious." Indeed, Allen acknowledged that he had not seen Romney's speech and hadn't read it in full -- he noted that the speech was "closed to the press under AEI rules" and that the campaign released only "excerpts" of the speech. Moreover, Allen did not note, as the weblog Think Progress did, that the excerpts of Romney's "serious" national security speech included no substantive remarks on the Iraq war.
Allen went on to highlight New York Times and Associated Press articles on a nonprofit organization set up by Democratic candidate John Edwards, which both articles said has allowed him to maintain a public profile even though he is no longer in public office. Allen wrote that the articles "make John Edwards' altruism look a little less altruistic."
Allen, however, still has not addressed a June 19 Newsday report that former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani (R) quit the Iraq Study Group (ISG) after failing to attend a single meeting, and instead delivered public speeches that earned him $300,000. As Media Matters for America has documented (here and here), The Politico has largely ignored the Giuliani ISG story, even though it has continued to draw press attention -- Slate.com's Fred Kaplan devoted his June 22 "War Stories" column to the story, writing: "[G]iven a chance to elevate his standing, serve the country, and get educated on the nation's most pressing issue -- Rudy went for the money."
Allen did mention Giuliani in his June 22 "Politico Playbook," writing, "We're told [columnist Robert D.] Novak reports this weekend: 'The acceptance of former Rep. Jim Nussle [R-IA] to be President Bush's budget director provides more evidence that Republican presidential front-runner Rudy Giuliani is downgrading his effort in Iowa caucuses leading off the GOP delegate selection process next January.' "
Allen wrote of Romney's speech:
3) MULTIMEDIA MITT: Check out the 31 Power Point slides former Gov. Romney used last night at the American Enterprise Institute's World Forum in Beaver Creek, Col., which was closed to the press under AEI rules. One whimsical shot shows a red-and-white bumper sticker that says, "The War On Terror Is NOT A Bumper Sticker." The speech was very ambitious and serious, though, departing from the populist stuff that's so common on the campaign trail. The title: "Global Initiative for Values and Freedom: A Comprehensive Strategy to Defeat Radical Jihad, Ensure American Security, and Advance Freedom and Human Rights Across the Globe." And on the seventh day, he rested. Here are the excerpts the campaign released, including details of his proposal for a "Special Partnership Force (SPF) to mobilize all elements of our national power In contested areas to defeat jihadists."
However, excerpts of Romney's speech leaked to the press before it was delivered contained no mention of Iraq. The excerpts the Romney campaign posted on its website mention Iraq only once, and in passing:
Strengthen Civilian Efforts And Strategic Planning: Many of our civilian national security and foreign policy structures were created decades ago. The lack of adequate planning and preparation for Iraq is one illustration of the breakdown of these Cold War capabilities. We need to ensure our civilian instruments have the ability to build joint efforts among our civilian agencies, and we need to empower Regional Deputies with clear lines of authority, budgets and responsibility to develop and execute regional plans and strategies. The National Security Council (NSC) needs strengthened capabilities to strategically integrate all elements of national power. NSC staff must be empowered and accountable for reaching out to divergent viewpoints and challenging policies and proposals.
The PowerPoint slides Allen touted contain no mention of Iraq. One slide even lists the percent of GDP spent on defense during World War II, the Korean War, Vietnam, the Persian Gulf War, and the "GWOT" (Global War on Terror), but does not list Iraq.
Allen went on to write of Edwards:
4) OUCH FOR EDWARDS: Two stories today make John Edwards' altruism look a little less altruistic. New York Times: "The main beneficiary ... was Mr. Edwards himself." AP: "The nonprofit Center for Promise and Opportunity offered distinct advantages to Edwards, its honorary chairman. The center's five officers all had worked for his previous presidential campaign, for example, and it appears to have paid for his travel to New Hampshire and several delegate-rich states."
New York Times, col. 1 below unrelated top picture, "In Aiding Poor, Edwards Built Bridge to 2008," by Leslie Wayne:
"John Edwards ended 2004 with a problem: how to keep alive his public profile without the benefit of a presidential campaign that could finance his travels and pay for his political staff. Mr. Edwards, who reported this year that he had assets of nearly $30 million, came up with a novel solution, creating a nonprofit organization with the stated mission of fighting poverty. The organization, the Center for Promise and Opportunity, raised $1.3 million in 2005, and -- unlike a sister charity he created to raise scholarship money for poor students -- the main beneficiary of the center's fund-raising was Mr. Edwards himself, tax filings show. A spokesman for Mr. Edwards defended the center yesterday as a legitimate tool against poverty."
AP, "Immune to the rules and regs for campaigns, Edwards' nonprofit kept his profile high," by Mike Baker in Chapel Hill, N.C.:
"The nonprofit had five officers in 2005: Miles Lackey, a senior Edwards adviser; Peter Scher, an Edwards adviser and former campaign manager; David Ginsberg, a senior campaign adviser; Ed Turlington, Edwards' former campaign chairman and current adviser; and Alexis Bar, Edwards' former scheduling director. All worked for the Edwards campaign in 2004, and all but Bar now work for his 2008 campaign. About 20 percent of the nonprofit's budget went to unnamed consultants, according to IRS filings. Another 37 percent went to salaries and wages."