Robert Novak
WASHINGTON -- Former Vice President Al Gore and Sen. Joseph Lieberman are seriously considering running as a team for the 2004 Democratic presidential and vice-presidential nominations, according to sources close to both of them. While clearly interested in the presidential nomination, Lieberman has dismayed supporters by saying he would not seek the highest office if Gore wants to try again for the presidency. Running together to duplicate the nearly victorious 2000 ticket is one way to resolve this problem. Nobody has ever sought the presidential nomination of a major American party with a pre-selected running mate. The closest to that was Ronald Reagan's tapping Sen. Richard Schweiker of Pennsylvania as his vice president just before the 1976 Republican National Convention. MICROSOFT POLITICS The decision by Sen. Charles Schumer of New York to hold Judiciary Committee hearings on Microsoft's newest product has angered Sen. Patty Murray of Washington, the Senate Democratic campaign chairman. In announcing September hearings on Windows XP, Schumer specifically cited Microsoft's "anti-competitive practices" against "two New York companies": Kodak and AOL Time Warner. Since that announcement, Kodak appears to have settled its differences with Microsoft. According to Senate sources, Murray is unhappy that Schumer is targeting a company that means so much to her state of Washington. TEAMSTERS MONITOR Despite misgivings by the Teamsters Union, former FBI and CIA Director William Webster has quietly been retained on the three-member Independent Review Board (IRB), which monitors the union. Former Attorney General Benjamin Civiletti was named by the Bush administration as the government's representative on the IRB, and the Teamsters selected former U.S. Attorney (for the District of Columbia) Joseph diGenova. These two members pick the board's third member, and Civiletti wanted Webster. The Teamsters, anxious to be rid of government tutelage, hoped for a totally new IRB but did not want to pick a fight with Civiletti over the prestigious Webster. The union's current leadership headed by James Hoffa is delighted that Civiletti has replaced retired Federal Judge Frederick Lacey, who, in 1994, issued a report giving a clean bill of health to then Teamsters President Ron Carey (now on trial in federal court for perjury). BACK TO HOLLYWOOD? National Republican campaign strategists worry that their uphill struggle to regain control of the Senate next year will become even steeper with the increasingly likely prospect that Sen. Fred Thompson will not seek re-election in Tennessee. Thompson, who once considered seeking the 2000 GOP presidential nomination, has not disclosed his 2002 plans. Republican sources in Tennessee speculate Thompson does not know what he will do himself. Nevertheless, the former Hollywood actor has raised little campaign money for next year and has seemed disengaged from the Senate this year, particularly since the Democratic takeover. Although Thompson would be heavily favored for re-election, the Tennessee seat will be up for grabs if he does not run. Rep. Ed Bryant, a Clinton impeachment manager who is more conservative than Thompson, would be the choice of the state Republican establishment. Rep. Harold Ford Jr., who would be the first African-American elected to the Senate from the South since Reconstruction, has been eyeing the Democratic nomination. Reps. Bart Gordon and the slightly more conservative John Tanner also are mentioned. BROADBAND POLITICS The lavishly financed struggle over the Tauzin-Dingell broadband bill concerns Republican fund-raisers because it pits two of the party's major contributors, local Bell companies and long-distance giant AT&T, against each other. Rep. Billy Tauzin, the House Commerce Committee chairman, wants the bill on the floor this autumn. But House Republican leaders, seeking a compromise, have not set a date. The measure in its present form would protect the Bells from competition and restrict AT&T. Many rank-and-file House Republicans do not want to cast a politically difficult vote on something that may never become law. Sen. Ernest F. Hollings, the Democratic Senate Commerce Committee chairman, has declared Tauzin-Dingell dead on arrival in the Senate if it passes the House.

Robert Novak

Robert Novak (1931-2009) was a syndicated columnist and editor of the Evans-Novak Political Report.
 

 
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