WASHINGTON -- Sen. John Kerry of Massachusetts, an aggressive
hopeful for the Democratic presidential nomination, is privately giving his
opinion that Al Gore will not run again in 2004.
Kerry's prediction fits widespread speculation in Democratic
ranks that Gore personally has no taste for a repeat attempt at the White
House this soon after his 2000 failure. The fuel behind his current
campaigning is believed to be supplied by Karenna Gore Schiff, his ambitious
A footnote: Eileen Kotecki, a key member of Gore's 2000
fund-raising team, has defected to another possible candidate for 2004: Sen.
John Edwards of North Carolina.
BUSH VS. SENATE
The White House has alerted Senate Republican leaders that
President Bush is in no mood for compromising his control over Homeland
Security employees when the bill authorizing the new department is debated
in the Senate following the August recess.
The Senate's Democratic majority is set to press for government
employee union rights in the Homeland Security Department. The signal to the
Senate GOP is that Bush is fully prepared to veto the bill if he is not
satisfied on this point.
A footnote: The White House and the Republican leadership
recognize there is no chance of any new Bush tax proposals getting through
the Senate this year or as long as the chamber is under Democratic control.
HASTERT VS. THOMAS
The rift between two of the most powerful Republicans in the
House -- Speaker Dennis Hastert and Ways and Means Committee Chairman Bill
Thomas -- widened during the August recess.
Hastert appeared in Seattle at an event for contributors to Rep.
Jennifer Dunn of Washington and was asked by one of Dunn's supporters about
the Thomas bill tightening tax treatment of corporations with overseas
operations. The speaker replied bluntly that he was opposed to it, adding
that it was not going anywhere anyway.
The Thomas bill is strongly opposed by Boeing, which now has
headquarters in Hastert's state of Illinois but still has a strong presence
in Washington state. The measure also is being fought by Caterpillar,
another Illinois company.
MCCAIN'S NEW AIDE
Sen. John McCain, who still regards himself as a conservative
Republican, has hired as his top legislative aide the woman who has held the
same post for a hard-line liberal Democratic congressman.
Christine Dodd has been legislative director for eight-term Rep.
Tom Sawyer, who was defeated in this year's Ohio Democratic primary.
Sawyer's American Conservative Union lifetime voting record is 3 percent.
Starting with Sawyer as a law student in 1994, Dodd specialized in pressing
for nationalized health insurance.
McCain press secretary Nancy Ives told this column that Dodd
came highly recommended to be interviewed for a lower staff position, but
made such a good impression that she was given the legislative director's
post. Dodd's "reputation as a professional supercedes her former employer's
voting record," Ives said.
Congressional investigators are pressing for an inquiry into why
the U.S. Embassy in Bogota, in the midst of an expensive, largely
unsuccessful war against narco-terrorism in Colombia, made an abortive
effort to procure a luxury vehicle.
Chairman Dan Burton of the House Government Reform Committee has
called on State Department Inspector General Clark Ervin to find out who was
responsible. State's Narcotic Affairs requested a Jeep Grand Cherokee
Special Edition for the Bogota Embassy. According to Burton, the vehicle's
proposed accessories included a 10-disc CD changer, six Infinity speakers,
power heated mirrors with memory, heated power leather front seats with
driver's side memory, and a leather and wood tilting steering wheel with
Burton also asked in his letter to Ervin why the procurement
solicitation was labeled "Urgent," with the usual 15- to 30-day response
period cut to four business days. The solicitation was cancelled by the
State Department July 31 after it was publicized.