Robert Novak
WASHINGTON -- Secretary of State Colin Powell was on the telephone early last Monday morning to presidential political adviser Karl Rove, assuring him he was not responsible for and did not agree with that morning's New York Times front-page criticism of Rove. The Times account had Powell upset that Rove was meddling in foreign policy. Specifically, it cited Rove for assigning Deputy Defense Secretary Paul Wolfowitz to address the April 15 pro-Israel rally in Washington. Actually, according to White House aides, Chief of Staff Andrew Card asked National Security Adviser Condoleezza Rice who should speak, and she suggested Wolfowitz. Rove was needled at the White House Monday morning. When President Bush announced the Russian arms control treaty, Rice cracked that they had better get advice from Rove (who was in the room). CRUSADER CONFLICT Rep. J.C. Watts, House Republican Conference chairman, is pleading with his fellow House GOP leaders to support him against President Bush's decision to kill the Crusader mobile artillery. Because of congressional redistricting in Oklahoma, Watts may end up opposing Republican Rep. Ernest Istook. With the Crusader planned to be assembled in a factory near Fort Sill in Watts's district, he says he may need the weapons system restored to keep his seat. Since the president has signaled he will veto any defense bill containing Crusader funds, House Republican leaders are in a dilemma. A footnote: Watts normally presides over meetings of the House Republican Conference but stayed away Wednesday when Bush addressed it. THE WORD FROM W In closed-door remarks to House Republicans Wednesday, President Bush thanked them for passing his legislative agenda but urged them to restrain their appetite for government spending. The president asked the GOP lawmakers to prevent the supplemental appropriations bill, about to come out of the House Appropriations Committee, from being a vehicle for all kinds of new spending. Bush also took the occasion to say behind closed doors what he soft-pedals in public. He spanked the Democratic-controlled Senate for blocking measures passed by the Republican-held House. JOE GOES POLITICAL Sen. Joseph Lieberman of Connecticut, who raises the moderate standard in the Democratic Party, attempted to amend the trade bill last week by, in effect, making U.S. environmental and labor laws subject to review by international tribunals. The amendment was defeated 54 to 44, but the effort won Lieberman points from the environmental and labor lobbies. He is sure to seek the 2004 presidential nomination if Al Gore does not run, and perhaps may repeat as the vice-presidential running mate if Gore tries again. A footnote: The Bush administration was taken by surprise two weeks ago when conservative Sen. Larry Craig of Idaho, a member of the Senate Republican leadership as Policy Committee chairman, co-sponsored with freshman liberal Democratic Sen. Mark Dayton of Minnesota an amendment gutting the trade bill. Fifteen other GOP senators joined Craig in passing the amendment, though President Bush warned it would be vetoed. LOBBYIST ALERT Banking industry lobbyists in Washington received a fax Wednesday from "Friends of John LaFalce" reproducing a Buffalo News report the previous day about a new congressional redistricting plan for New York, which would put Democratic Rep. John LaFalce and Republican Rep. Jack Quinn in the same district. The fax contained no comment on this development. However, actually coming from Washington-based Democratic fund-raiser Ted Westervelt, it appeared to alert the lobbyists to later appeals for money. LaFalce is top Democrat on the House Financial Services Committee and would become its chairman if Democrats take control of the House in this year's elections. The LaFalce-Quinn showdown would take place if the plan released last week by former federal Judge Frederick Lacey, acting as a court-appointed special master, is not changed by the state legislature. LaFalce, 62, is a 14-term moderate Democrat, who won with 61 percent of the 2000 vote. Quinn, 51, is a five-term moderate Republican, who last won with 67 percent.

Robert Novak

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

 
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