Robert Novak
WASHINGTON -- The push by Democratic National Chairman Terry McAuliffe to make New York City the site for the party's 2004 national convention is viewed with suspicion by Democratic insiders who worry about a movement to give Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton of New York the vice-presidential nomination. Senior figures in the party scoff at these concerns, claiming that the notion of a convention site influencing the composition of the ticket is a century out of date. Nevertheless, anti-Hillary Democrats note that Washington financial wheeler-dealer McAuliffe's election as national chairman was dictated by Bill and Hillary Clinton after the 2000 election. There is no doubt that the 2004 convention site is in McAuliffe's hands, and hardly more doubt that he will pick New York. The other competitors are Boston, Detroit and Miami, but only Boston seems a realistic alternative to New York. Boston, incidentally, is the home territory of a potential presidential candidate: Sen. John Kerry. JIMMY CARTER'S DIPLOMACY Senior State Department officials were not happy about Jimmy Carter's latest exercise in personal diplomacy: his recent Venezuelan visit attempting to mediate talks between populist President Hugo Chavez and his opponents. Bush administration policymakers who privately would like to see Chavez out of office do not believe it is possible to reconcile the opposing forces in Venezuela. On the contrary, they see the visit from a former president of the United States unwisely providing a prestige injection for the embattled Chavez. These State Department officials were not happy about Carter's previous diplomatic mission -- to Cuba. In retrospect, they see his visit there as a pre-arranged boost for Fidel Castro. SPEAKER'S CHOICE What was billed as a "revolt" on the House floor against excessive spending last Tuesday night by the Conservative Action Team (CATs) in fact was backed by Speaker Dennis Hastert and other Republican leaders. Rep. Pat Toomey of Pennsylvania led other backbench Republicans in slowing down consideration of the Interior Department appropriations as a protest against House Appropriations Committee spending levels. The tip-off that the CATs were supported by the party establishment came when Rep. Rob Portman of Ohio, chairman of the House Republican leadership, voted with the insurgents. Hastert met privately last Wednesday with Rep. Bill Young of Florida, the House Appropriations Committee chairman, to lay down the law on spending. JANET IS BROKE Janet Reno's campaign finance disclosures, showing that she does not have sufficient funding to even run television ads in her campaign for governor of Florida, came as an unwelcome revelation to managers of Republican Gov. Jeb Bush's re-election effort. The Bush campaign views former Atty. Gen. Reno as a weaker general election foe than millionaire lawyer Bill McBride, her Democratic primary opponent. Although the better known Reno is far ahead of McBride in the polls, he has more than $1 million in campaign cash on hand compared to her $220,000. The Florida Education Association last Wednesday began a multi-million dollar campaign in McBride's behalf. The announcement by the state's Democratic Party that it will pay for TV ads by the party's contenders may help Reno. TENNESSEE FRATRICIDE Although former presidential candidate Lamar Alexander maintains a huge lead in nightly tracking polls against conservative Rep. Ed Bryant, hopeful Democratic strategists are counting Alexander as a loser in the Aug. 1 Tennessee Republican primary for the U.S. Senate. That builds optimism for Democratic Rep. Bob Clement winning what was regarded as a safe GOP seat before Republican Sen. Fred Thompson announced his retirement. Bryant is viewed as a weaker general election candidate than Alexander, who was a popular governor of Tennessee and later U.S. secretary of education. Alexander is a moderate who is not that comfortable drifting to the right against Bryant in the intra-Republican contest. Because a low turnout would favor Bryant, the Alexander camp is cheered by heavy pre-election balloting in the former governor's East Tennessee stronghold.

Robert Novak

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

 
©Creators Syndicate