McAuliffe's missing signature

Robert Novak
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Posted: Aug 30, 2003 12:00 AM

WASHINGTON -- Recipients of recent money appeals by the Democratic National Committee (DNC) have been puzzled by the absence of the customary signature of the party chairman, Terry McAuliffe.

Earlier DNC fund-raising letters this year were signed by former President Bill Clinton and Sen. Edward M. Kennedy. The latest appeal, which arrived in the mail last week, was signed by somebody whose name was new to many recipients: Josh Wachs, the DNC's 31-year-old chief operating officer.

McAuliffe is so controversial with the Democratic rank-and-file, according to party sources, that his name may inhibit contributions. A Washington-based business speculator, McAuliffe was hand-picked for chairman by Bill and Hillary Clinton after the 2000 election, against the wishes of many DNC members.

ARNOLD'S IDEOLOGY

Arnold Schwarzenegger, under fire from the California Republican Party's right wing, first got interested in government as an acolyte of economist Milton Friedman and still follows his libertarian-conservative ideology.

In the 1980s, actor-bodybuilder Schwarzenegger would show up at his Los Angeles health club wearing a "Free to Choose" T-shirt. Nobel laureate Friedman and his wife, Rose, co-authored the best-selling book "Free to Choose," which also was the title of his award-winning PBS television series.

Schwarzenegger's backers are using his Friedmanite ideology as reason for conservative Republican voters to support him in the Oct. 7 recall election to replace Democratic Gov. Gray Davis despite his liberal stands on social issues.

GOP RECRUITING

Stunned by Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee's decision not to run for the Senate, national Republican recruiters have turned to Homeland Security Under Secretary Asa Hutchinson as the last best bet to defeat Democratic Sen. Blanche Lincoln's bid for a second term.

Hutchinson, a former congressman and brother of ex-Sen. Tim Hutchinson, is considered the only possible candidate with a real chance against Lincoln. The problem is that he would like to succeed John Ashcroft as attorney general in a second term for President Bush. Since the president obviously controls that avenue of promotion, the White House could pressure Hutchinson to become a Senate candidate.

Huckabee's withdrawal marks the latest in a series of White House-anointed Senate candidates who have declined to run for the Senate. The decision by Rep. James Gibbons of Nevada to stay in the House virtually assures another term for Senate Democratic Whip Harry Reid. Former Rep. John Thune has yet to say whether he will run in South Dakota against Senate Democratic Leader Tom Daschle.

POUNDING THE PRESIDENT

Senate Democratic leaders have sent e-mails to liberal organizations to show up at a Capitol Hill rally, immediately after the conclusion of the August recess, to continue the attack accusing President Bush of reneging on his "leave no child behind" commitment for education.

The pressure groups were urged to "send members of your organizations to this rally" in the Dirksen Senate Office Building Wednesday morning to build support for four education amendments to the Labor-HHS-Education appropriations bill pending in the Senate. The amendments would spend more federal money on "disadvantaged" children, disabled students, college Pell grants and several varieties of aid to children of immigrants.

Senate Democratic Leader Tom Daschle and Sen. Edward M. Kennedy will lead the Bush-bashing session. Boosting their amendments for more school spending will be Senate Democratic Whip Harry Reid and Sens. Robert Byrd, Chris Dodd and Jeff Bingaman.

AGAINST INTERNET TAXES

Pressure by Republican governors has forced the National Governors Association (NGA) to back away from its call to end the moratorium on the question of taxing through the Internet.

Texas Gov. Rick Perry has removed funding from the NGA because of the tax issue, among others. New Hampshire Gov. Craig Benson and Hawaii Gov. Linda Lingle have threatened to do the same thing.

By not opting to end the moratorium, the nation's governors are officially neutral on whether to impose sales taxes on merchandise sold through the Internet.