Manny Come Lately

Posted February 5, 2008 at 6:44pm

Manny Miranda, the former GOP aide who was found to have improperly snooped around in documents belonging to Democrats on the Senate Judiciary Committee, once had some nasty words about Arizona Sen. John McCain’s chances of becoming the Republican presidential nominee.

But it looks like absence makes the heart grow fonder, and now Miranda is backing the guy he once trashed. Miranda, who was an aide to former Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist(R-Tenn.) and went on to head an anti-filibuster group, sent an e-mail out on Monday endorsing the Arizona Republican.

“There is no nominee who better assures me of the future of our country and the future for my son than John McCain,” Miranda wrote in a warm and fuzzy e-mail that was widely distributed in conservative circles. Miranda went on to note that McCain is “solidly pro-life in his voting record” and that the record of former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney, McCain’s biggest threat, “is not similarly comforting.”

[IMGCAP(1)]Miranda wasn’t always such a big fan of McCain’s, though. In 2005, after Miranda was forced out of his Senate job over the document scandal, he blasted the Arizona Republican for standing in the way of Frist’s “nuclear” plan to end filibusters against White House judicial nominees. In fact, Miranda spearheaded a group of conservatives who vowed to crush McCain’s White House bid, and even went so far as to reportedly launch an anti-McCain e-mail and letter-writing effort in the key primary states of Michigan and South Carolina.

“He will have no presidential hopes if he pursues this course,” Miranda told The Washington Times, which reported on the anti- McCain campaign.

McCain, of course, went on to head off the nuclear option by helping to craft the “Gang of 14” bipartisan compromise.

This, to no surprise, displeased Miranda. “Everybody should be ashamed of this deal,” he said at the time.

Miranda tells HOH that the year he spent among U.S. troops in Baghdad as the director of the Office of Legislative Statecraft in the State Department — a job he recently ended — partly inspired his turnaround on McCain. The Arizona Senator has the most credibility with the men and women serving abroad, Miranda says.

As for all the trash-talk about his new endorsee, Miranda adds that that’s just how Washington works. “That’s part of the role of being an advocate” on a particular issue, he says.

Speedy Tuesday. California may have been one of the most hotly contested primary races on Super Tuesday, but Cali gal Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D) had more important business back in Washington. Pelosi opted to welcome NASCAR champion and fellow Californian Jimmie Johnson to Capitol Hill. Calling Johnson an “all-American hero,” Pelosi said she, too, may be ready to take to the road again. “I’ve done so once, I may do so again,” she told reporters of her desire to drive a racecar.

The “again” alludes to a spin Pelosi once took with her husband, Paul, around Infineon Raceway in Sonoma, Calif.

Rep. Mike Thompson (D-Calif.), who joined the two in the Capitol, said he wants to witness Pelosi getting behind the wheel. “I want to be there,” said Thompson, who was also there to see Pelosi shoot skeet for the first time.

You Are What You Eat. Are Democrats making overtures to the gun lobby? Rep. Nick Rahall (D-W.Va.) suspects so, and he tells HOH that the proof is in the pudding … or at least on the Democrats’ plates. He tells HOH that at their recent retreat in Williamsburg, Va., they were served a luncheon menu featuring a dish called “Gun Powder Roasted Pork Loin.”

“As soon as I saw it, I thought it looks like we’re extending an olive branch to the NRA,” Rahall says. “It’s a pretty smart move.”

The pork dish, which was served at the Kingsmill Resort, was not only an indication of a willingness to reach out to the gun lobby, but it was also quite delicious, Rahall informs us.

Mix Liberally, Drink Conservatively. Staffers who happened to get a glimpse yesterday afternoon of the Swedish vodka-maker Svedka’s tantalizing advertising campaign starring the “Svedka Girls” might have been a little disappointed. Touting the slogan, “putting the party back in party politics,” the vodka company had four “Svedka Girls” stationed outside the Cannon House Office Building as part of its faux political campaign to put a fembot in the White House. But the women handing out Svedka swag were decidedly less femme fatale and more typical Washington, dressed in Svedka stocking caps and winter coats, as they handed out pins that read “Swing Voters Have More Fun.”

“Politics is the ultimate reality TV,” said spokesman Trey Ditto of Svedka’s interest in American politics. The girls were just a warmup to the main event — a party at Pennsylvania Avenue bar Top of the Hill last night for which more than 500 people had RSVPed, according to Ditto. Party organizers were expecting a bipartisan crowd based on the fembot’s party platform, which includes foreign policy (Make Cocktails, Not War); the environment (Help End Global Warming: Add More Ice); and, a motto most staffers can relate to (Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Happy Hour).

Perez Prez Pick. From the strange planet of celebrity presidential endorsements (Hulk Hogan for Obama!) comes this odd weigh-in: Super-snarky Internet gossip guy Perez Hilton is for Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton (D-N.Y.).

Visitors who checked out Hilton’s Web site, perezhilton.com, on Tuesday for the usual Britney-Lindsay-Paris fare got something a little meatier. In a posting that reveals Hilton is more of a deep-thinker than we realized, Hilton informs readers that he thinks Clinton’s got what we need, like a plan for universal health coverage.

And although Hillary’s his top choice, he also gives Sen. Barack Obama (D-Ill.) a shout-out: “Obama MUST stay in the picture. This country needs him, just as we need Clinton.”

More Diapers for D’Amato. Congratulations to former Sen. Alfonse D’Amato (R-N.Y.), who at the ripe old age of 70 welcomed his fifth child on Tuesday, according to the New York Daily News. It’s his first with wife Katuria D’Amato, whom he wed in 2004.

D’Amato also has 14 grandchildren. The perfect gift sure to please both baby and proud pop? How about a stroller that doubles as a walker?

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