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Brownback's day in the spotlight

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If, as speculated, Sen. Sam Brownback decides to run for president in 2008, then Tuesday night was his first audition on the national stage.Brownback, the Kansas Republican, spoke Tuesday night to the Republican National Convention -- one of only two unabashed conservatives to speak this week while the party tries to put its moderate foot forward. He talked mostly about the scourge of HIV, while giving quick nods to two issues dear to the hearts of religious conservatives -- the massacre of Christians in Sudan, and abortion. [The full text of his prepared speech can be found at this link.][1]"From the man held in a foreign prison for practicing his faith to the Sudanese refugee attacked for the color of her skin, this nation and this president will fight for you!" Brownback said. "From the child in the womb to the mother carrying her, this nation and this president will fight for you! "Why? Because each is wonderfully made, and what we do for the so-called 'least of these,' we do for our Creator. We are leading the world in a heroic rescue of human life. This is the essence of compassionate conservatism. It is the mettle of George Bush."So how'd he do? The early reviews were respectful.[Slate's William Saletan][2] calls Brownback's speech a "masterpiece of framing. He isn't here to talk about abortion. He's here to talk about AIDS -- and fold the GOP's pro-life position into it."Saletan concludes: "Brownback gets his biggest reaction when he restates Bush's pledge to 'protect every human life.' And he closes with a pledge to safeguard both 'the child in the womb' and 'the mother carrying her.' I assume this is a reference to the recently enacted Unborn Victims of Violence Act, which neatly positioned the GOP as a protector of women as well as fetuses. The religious right is learning and rethinking. The secular left will have to do the same."Many national reporters, though, were more interested in what Brownback had to say outside the convention hall. Brownback spoke Tuesday to the invitation-only "Family, Faith and Freedom" rally for Christian conservatives."'We must win this culture war,' Senator Brownback urged a crowd of several hundred in a packed ballroom of the Waldorf-Astoria hotel, reprising a theme of a speech by Patrick J. Buchanan from the podium of the 1992 Republican convention that many political experts say alienated moderate voters in that election," reported the New York Times' [David Kirkpatrick.][3]"At the afternoon rally, Mr. Brownback singled out several subjects of special interest to conservative evangelical Protestants that have been largely omitted from the presentations at the convention, including opposition to abortion and same-sex unions, the plight of Christians and other victims of violence in Sudan, human trafficking, and events in Israel. "'I fear for the Republic, I really do,' warned Mr. Brownback, a favorite of party conservatives. 'We are accused of having a radical agenda for saying that marriage is between a man and a woman and it is the best way for children to be raised. It is not about being hateful. It is about being truthful.'"Kirkpatrick added: "Recalling the motto 'In God We Trust,' Mr. Brownback asked, 'Is it still true? I say it is, and I say we fight.'"Don't stop thinking about tomorrowNational reporters continue to highlight Brownback as a possible 2008 candidate, even if they aren't correct on all the facts."Sen. Sam Brownback is a conservative Methodist from Kansas, a state not known for its diversity," [The Los Angeles Times reports.][4] "But Tuesday, he was preaching to a choir far from his geographic and political base -- headlining a meeting of Jewish Republicans in Midtown Manhattan."Brownback, of course, converted to Catholicism in 2002.The point, though, is that "Brownback is one of the more obscure contenders, but he is a favorite of the party's religious conservative base. Some GOP strategists say he is exploring the option of a presidential run."Brownback on CNNBrownback appeared on CNN Tuesday, talking about a variety of issues -- including a response to criticism that some GOP delegates were mocking John Kerry's Vietnam War wounds by wearing band-aids with marked with Purple Hearts.[The New York Times][5] reports: "When Senator Sam Brownback, Republican of Kansas, was asked about the bandages on CNN yesterday he also said they were inappropriate but said, 'I have more controversy and questions about what he said after he came back because of the very issue of how it's seen by veterans at that point in time.'"Brownback's CNN interview drew [heat][6] from Media Matters, a left-leaning Web site that monitors the media for rightward bias."During an August 31 appearance on CNN, anchor Wolf Blitzer sat silently by as Senator Sam Brownback (R-KS) falsely claimed that 527 groups do not disclose their donors. Blitzer asked Brownback about TV ads by Swift Boat Veterans for Truth , a 527 group. In an apparent effort to shift the discussion away from the false and misleading content of the group's ads, Brownback claimed that 527s fail to disclose their donors.""'You're seeing these 527s all over the place,' Brownback said. 'The money is -- we don't know where it's coming from, we don't know how much there is in it, but it's out there.' "In fact, we do know where the money behind 527 ads is coming from, and we do know how much it is, because 527s are required to disclose their donors . Brownback should know that, too: he voted for the legislation that created the 527 donor disclosure requirement in 2000."_Correction: As Kris Van Meteren notes below, 527 donors can remain anonymous -- though at some penalty to the recipient group -- [as Scripps Howard News Service reported last month:][7] "Nonprofits involved in political activities are called '527 groups' because they come under that section of the IRS code. They are supposed to tell the IRS the names of contributors and the amounts they gave as a condition of being a nonprofit exempt from federal income taxes. "But new IRS rules permit the 527 groups to withhold names of contributors, their occupations or the address of the organization making the contribution."'Enter 'Withheld' as the contributor's name,' the IRS form tells nonprofits, stating they can also enter "NA" on lines calling for the occupation employer. The IRS notes that there is a penalty of 35 percent of the amounts contributed from individuals when their names are withheld."The news service adds: "The Center for Responsive Politics, a Washington watchdog group, said it found 13 records marked 'withheld' in reports filed with the IRS earlier this year, including one $125,000 contribution to GOPAC, a Republican-leaning get-out-the-vote operation headed by former Oklahoma Rep. J.C. Watts. "_How to contact As always, you can find information to contact members of the Kansas congressional delegation [here.][8] [1]: http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/articles/A50430-2004Aug31.html [2]: http://slate.msn.com/id/2106023/ [3]: http://www.nytimes.com/2004/09/01/politics/campaign/01faith.html [4]: http://www.latimes.com/news/yahoo/la-na-contenders1sep01,1,2932070.story [5]: http://www.nytimes.com/2004/09/01/politics/campaign/01swift.html [6]: http://mediamatters.org/items/200408310014 [7]: http://www.detnews.com/2004/politics/0408/12/a03-237769.htm [8]: http://ljworld.com/extra/where_to_write.html#fed

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