Campaign Diary: Smith On Straw Polls, Quayle On Leno, Bradley On The Court

By Justin Torres | July 7, 2008 | 8:24 PM EDT

(CNS) - Straw Men: Alabama GOPers say they were surprised to receive a call last week from America's most prominent ex-Republican: a staffer for Sen. Bob Smith (U.S. Taxpayers?-NH), who dropped out the Republican Party on July 13, allegedly telephoned asking whether or not Smith was still invited to the state GOP's August straw poll. A spokesperson for the Alabama Republican Party, Goodloe Sutton, Jr., told that Smith had been invited originally, along with all the Republican candidates. "It's a little like getting divorced, then showing up to your ex-wife's family reunion," said Sutton. Smith's independent campaign denied that any such call was made.

Letting Go On Leno: It's probably not the end of the jokes, but it could be a start: In a lighthearted appearance on The Tonight Show, former veep Dan Quayle chided host Jay Leno for lampooning him 52 times since the campaign began, as opposed to 37 times for all the other candidates combined. "I'm first in the Leno poll," joked Quayle. When Leno needled him for "compulsive behavior" in counting all the jokes, Quayle shot back, "On whose part?"

Tip-Off: Former New York Knicks star Bill Bradley took the court Tuesday to play in "Hoopla!," a basketball-based fundraiser in Chicago. Bradley and hoops pals Phil Jackson, Earl "The Pearl" Monroe, John Havlicek, among others, played "B-I-L," a shortened version of "H-O-R-S-E," and showed their stuff for the press and supporters at the Chicago Historical Society. In keeping with Bradley's aim of getting more young people involved in politics, tickets for people over 30 were $250, while Gen Xers paid only $100.

Palmetto Progress: GOP presidential hopeful John McCain is going back to South Carolina for the ninth time this year, far more than any other candidate. McCain's frequent visits - part of his strategy to blunt the progress of George Dubya Bush by rolling up a few of the less-prominent early primary states - seems to have paid off, with endorsements from 18 Republican members of the South Carolina General Assembly,
including the Speaker Pro Tem Terry Haskins, as well as GOP Congressmen Lindsey Graham and Mark Sanford. The two congressmen will join the former war hero in a "Straight Talk Express" bus tour.

Steely Pat: Frontrunner Bush may get all the endorsements from admiring politicians, but former commentator Pat Buchanan just received the backing of the 4,000-member Independent Steelworkers Union based in Weirton, WV. The union president, Mark Glyptis, called Buchanan "the only presidential candidate who is genuinely concerned for the future of the American steel industry and American working people."