Robert Novak
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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 29-year-old daughter. 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. DIPLOMATIC LUXURY 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 remote controls. 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.
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Robert Novak

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

 
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