John McCaslin

Prince's party

We're told 200 VIPs will be on hand this evening when journalist Fred Barnes and economic consultant Dave Smick host an Army & Navy Club reception for columnist Robert D. Novak, who is celebrating the publication of hislong-awaited memoirs "The Prince of Darkness: 50 Years Reporting in Washington."

McCain's moment?

Inside the Beltway has just returned from Charleston, S.C., where Democratic presidential candidates will arrive well in advance of the historic primary debate Monday evening at The Citadel, sponsored by CNN and YouTube. Indeed, it's the first-ever voter-generated presidential debate featuring video questions submitted through the popular Internet site YouTube and then answered by the candidates over CNN. The network's Anderson Cooper will moderate the two-hour exchange.

While a struggling Sen. John McCain has had little to cheer about in his bid for the White House, the front page of yesterday's Charleston Post and Courier reported the Arizona Republican leads all presidential candidates - Republicans and Democrats - in state fundraising during the last three months.Even the $226,000 raised by former Sen. John Edwards, North Carolina Democrat and a South Carolina native, couldn't top Mr. McCain's impressive $287,000.

Mr. Edwards also finished behind Republican former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney, who raised $270,000.

Illinois Democratic Sen. Barack Obama's

three-month South Carolina total of $187,000, meanwhile, outpaced fellow Democratic Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton's dismal $76,000 in collections. Republican former New York Mayor Rudolph W.Giuliani, who opened a campaign office in Charleston yesterday, raised almost$208,000.

South Carolina holds the first primary in the South.

Silent protest

That won't be your ordinary group of protesters marching into Washington next week.

The Deaf Bilingual Coalition (DBC) says it will protest outside the summer conference of the Alexander Graham Bell Association for the Deaf and Hard of Hearing, charging that the group named after the famous inventor promotes a "damaging, outdated ideology."

The Bell association needs to recognize American Sign Language, or ASL, as the "only genuine cognitive language" for the deaf, says the DBC. Founded in 1887, it says the Bell group has promoted Bell's personal belief that deaf children should not be taught the use of sign language.

John McCaslin

John McCaslin is a contributing columnist on and author of Inside The Beltway: Offbeat Stories, Scoops, and Shenanigans from around the Nation's Capital .

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