Union and homeland security
9/21/2002 12:00:00 AM - Robert Novak
WASHINGTON, D.C. -- White House operatives, seeking to give
President Bush flexibility in the proposed Department of Homeland Security,
are spreading horror stories over Capitol Hill about interference from
Two examples: Labor leaders are accused of blocking mandatory
radiation detectors for Customs agents on the border. Unions are insisting
on strict seniority, without regard to language capability, for Customs
personnel sent abroad for pre-screening.
A footnote: While Senate Democrats are insisting on protecting
union rights for the new department, House Republicans say this is one issue
where they will not yield. They say they prefer no bill at all.
Sen. Bill Frist of Tennessee, mentioned as a possible George W.
Bush vice-presidential running mate in 2004, tells friends that in any event
he almost certainly will not seek a third Senate term in 2006.
Since his upset victory over Democratic Sen. Jim Sasser in 1994,
former heart surgeon Frist has been a rising star in the Senate. His
colleagues regard him as a future Senate leader if he is not picked for a
national ticket in 2004. However, he has made clear he feels two terms and
12 years as a senator is enough.
Frist gets high grades as Senate campaign chairman for the 2002
cycle. Unless there is a Republican debacle on Nov. 5, Frist likely will
fill the same role for 2004.
NEGATIVE IN S.D.
Attacks on Democratic Sen. Tim Johnson's lack of support for the
Gulf War a decade ago has given Republican Rep. John Thune a boost in the
closely watched South Dakota Senate race.
Thune has blasted Johnson, then a House member, for suing to
keep the elder President Bush from going to war against Iraq in 1991 without
first seeking congressional approval, and then voting against the resolution
sought by Bush. A TV ad assails Johnson for other anti-defense votes and
support from the anti-war Council for a Livable World. Nightly Republican
tracking then showed a Thune spurt of 6 to 7 points in the previously even
A footnote: President George W. Bush, who talked Thune into
making the tough Senate campaign, is going all out for him. He has
campaigned for Thune twice in South Dakota and will be at Washington's
Willard Hotel Sept. 24 for a Thune fund-raiser ($1,000 for the general
reception, $5,000 for a private reception). On the next day, all 49
Republican senators will host a $1,000-a-plate Thune luncheon at La Colline
PRIVATIZED SOCIAL SECURITY?
The party leadership's advice to Republican House candidates to
avoid Social Security privatization has angered conservative theoreticians
who fear a long delay in changing the system.
Rep. Tom Davis, the House Republican campaign chairman, has
called on the party's candidates to stay away from the issue and especially
the word "privatize." Steven Moore, chairman of the supply-side Club for
Growth, said in a memo to Davis, "Republicans must run ON the issue of
creating Social Security private investment account options, not AWAY from
A footnote: The latest Republican candidate to avoid the issue
is Elizabeth Dole, who forced the withdrawal of a Democratic ad putting her
on record for private accounts. Dole enjoys a big lead over former Clinton
chief of staff Erskine Bowles for the open Senate seat in North Carolina.
Former Republican National Chairman Haley Barbour is making
clear that he intends to run for governor of Mississippi next year even if
State Attorney General Mike Moore, the strongest possible Democrat, makes
Word had spread through Washington's lobbyist circles that
Barbour would run against embattled Democratic Gov. Ronnie Musgrove but
would demur if Moore becomes a candidate. Barbour, a big-time Washington
lobbyist who keeps his residence in Yazoo City, Miss., totally denies that
Trial lawyers, fearing Barbour as an implacable foe, have been
prospecting for a better candidate than Musgrove. Former Rep. Wayne Dowdy is
mentioned, but they really want Moore -- a well-known figure in Mississippi
and nationally for leading anti-tobacco litigation.