Inside Report: Separating the Bushes

Robert Novak

7/22/2000 12:00:00 AM - Robert Novak
SEPARATING THE BUSHES WASHINGTON -- Aiming to keep Gov. George W. Bush out of his father's shadow at the Republican National Convention, the former president and the governor of Texas will live in separate Philadelphia hotels. The Republican presidential candidate and his party are staying in the Wyndham Hotel. The senior Bush will be at the Rittenhouse. The former president is not even scheduled to address the convention (with ex-President Gerald Ford also on the sidelines in Philadelphia). A footnote: The made-for-TV GOP convention may prove an unpleasant surprise for veteran delegates. There will be no keynote speaker, few other speakers and a stage rather than a podium. It will not look much like the convention to which old-timers are accustomed. DEMONIZING KEATING No sooner had Oklahoma Gov. Frank Keating emerged as George W. Bush's possible running mate than the Democratic National Committee distributed to journalists a thick file painting him as a conservative ideologue. It quotes Keating as saying last February: "The legislature has yet to get religion. That's to be expected, since two-thirds of them are Democrats." Keating is also shown tilting toward teaching of "creationism" in public schools, vetoing "hate-crimes" legislation and supporting an anti-homosexual marriage bill. In addition, the file reports a 100 percent rating given him by the Christian Coalition. A footnote: Keating will address some 3,000 conservative state legislators meeting in San Diego next Friday evening, the weekend before the Republican National Convention. By then, Keating either will or will not have been tapped for vice president. MENACING GEPHARDT House Democratic Leader Richard Gephardt, who has declared he would rather be Speaker of the House than run for vice president, may face serious trouble in remaining a member of Congress into the next decade. If Republican Rep. James Talent is elected governor of Missouri this year against Democratic State Treasurer Bob Holden, the GOP will gain control of the state's congressional redistricting. The Republicans in 2001 then would almost surely eliminate Gephardt's St. Louis suburban district. Whether Gephardt becomes Speaker after the 2000 election or would be seeking it after 2002, it would be difficult to find a new district for him. A footnote: Minority Whip David Bonior, the House's No. 2 Democrat, was busy July 14 telephoning colleagues and journalists to boost Gephardt for vice president and assert his own readiness to succeed to the leadership. That may have forced Gephardt's hand in disavowing interest in becoming Al Gore's running mate. DISHARMONY IN NASHVILLE William Daley, who quit as Secretary of Commerce to go to Nashville as Al Gore's presidential campaign chairman, is not getting on well with campaign manager Donna Brazile, according to insiders. The smooth and accommodating Daley poses a contrast with the abrasive and confrontational Brazile. But he views her as a link to the Democratic Party's important African-American and labor constituencies, and there is no plan to replace her. A footnote: Daley is transferring to Nashville several Washington-based Gore operatives, including former vice-presidential Chief of Staff Ron Klain. But former Rep. Tom Downey, a Washington super-lobbyist as well as a Gore confidante, will stay in the nation's capital. His presence in Nashville would raise questions about his many corporate clients. REPLACING COVERDELL With Democrats bullish about taking the U.S. Senate seat left vacant by the sudden death of Georgia Republican Paul Coverdell, the GOP's Senate and House leaders are split over choosing a candidate. Former Gov. Zell Miller, a proven statewide vote-getter, would be hard to beat Nov. 7 as the Democratic candidate. Senate Majority Leader Trent Lott would like the Republican to be Rep. Saxby Chambliss, a popular third-term congressman. But House Republican leaders want Chambliss to keep his congressional seat, fearing loss of the traditionally Democratic south Georgia district. Other Republican Senate prospects include Rep. Charlie Norwood, a dentist who has opposed the party leadership on health care issues, and Rep. Johnny Isakson, who, unlike Chambliss and Norwood, has been a statewide candidate.