That, and other news, in today’s Political Panorama.
What will happen to Rudy? That will be what political junkies and media types will be looking out for tonight, as former New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani tests the viability of his newly declared social liberal, fiscal conservative strategy before his nine competitors for the Republican nomination. Less than two weeks after they faced off at a sometimes bizarre forum at the Reagan Library, the GOP candidates debate in Columbia, S.C. tonight, in an event sponsored by that state’s party and Fox News. Outshined in charisma by Mitt Romney and outgunned in dire rhetoric by John McCain in the last debate, expect Giuliani to make bold pronouncements about fighting the war on terror and appeals to anyone, anywhere who wants to generally eliminate riff raff. The irony of all of this is Giuliani’s public embracing last week of his past positions on abortion rights and gay rights plays well to Hollywood centrists, even if it may lose him the party’s social conservative base. The other candidate with major Hollywood support, McCain, will find himself under attack soon after the event ends when VoteVets.org unveils new ads featuring Major Gen. John Batiste. NBC’s First Read reports that the ad closes with the words, “Senator McCain: Protect America, Not George Bush.”
Debate Challenge: Fred Thompson is not yet declared, so he won’t be in South Carolina tonight, but he has been challenged to a debate by Michael Moore. The filmmaker, in Cannes this week for the premiere of his doc “Sicko,” is responding to criticism from the “Law & Order” star over Moore’s trip to Cuba to seek treatment for 9/11 workers. He also questions Thompson’s past lobbying activities and affinity for Cuban cigars.
Tony Nods: As expected, “Frost/Nixon” collected multiple Tony nominations, including best play and best actor for Frank Langella.
Arnold’s Return?: Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger’s office has had to squelch a report that he was set for a return to “The Terminator.” It turns out it was just an Internet rumor that — not much of a surprise — spread like wildfire. Schwarzenegger could do a cameo or take a producer credit, but nothing is set yet.
Iraq’s “Real World”: The Los Angeles Times Edmund Sanders profiles “Hometown Baghdad,” sort of an Iraqi version of “The Real World.” The show, shot in Iraq and edited in New York, has drawn a large Internet audience, excpt in Baghdad itself, because of a lack of high speed modems there. He writes, “It’s a captivating if narrow slice of the Iraq conflict, spliced for
the MTV generation. Hip, English-speaking stars provide a largely
upper-middle-class viewpoint in sync with most Western viewers. They
are Muslim, but none is particularly devout. They’re not among the
anti-American militants, and none will ever be forced to take risky
jobs with the Iraqi police or army, unlike their less fortunate and
less educated peers.”
Franken Trails: If the election were held today, Minnesota Sen. Norm Coleman would beat Democratic hopeful Al Franken by 22 points, according to the latest poll from Mason Dixon. But Coleman’s job approval rating is down.
Coulter Cleared: Investigators in Palm Beach County, Florida have found “insufficient probably cause” to charge Ann Coulter with any wrongdoing over claims that she violated state law by voting in the wrong precinct.
Dodd Ad: Chris Dodd unveils his first ad, one that highlights his plan for bringing troops home from Iraq. The spot, below, will appear in New Hampshire markets.