Robert Novak

WASHINGTON -- A principal drafter of President Bush's tax cuts is now advising Arnold Schwarzenegger in his Republican candidacy for governor in the California recall election.

Cesar Conda, Vice President Dick Cheney's economic aide until last week, was one of the Bush administration's leading supply-siders and tax cut advocates. He has been employed by Navigators, the Washington-based consulting firm headed by Schwarzenegger campaign strategist Mike Murphy.

A footnote: Murphy is a top practitioner of "earned media" -- unpaid television coverage. Earned media has not been a factor in recent California elections because of limited news coverage, but television has been covering the current recall campaign. Former Gov. Pete Wilson's political team, which had full control of Schwarzenegger's campaign until Murphy arrived, is expert in paid media but not in earned media.


Republican insiders were disappointed, the day after President Bush's speech to the United Nations, to find broadcast television networks Wednesday morning filled with Democratic voices but none from the administration.

Two top Democratic presidential candidates led off two morning network programs -- Retired Gen. Wesley Clark on NBC and former Vermont Gov. Howard Dean on ABC. No Bush partisan was put out by the White House, though First Lady Laura Bush was questioned on non-political matters over ABC.

A footnote: The White House publicity machine has come under internal Republican criticism for listing $87 billion as money for Iraq in the emergency appropriations bill. These critics say the request should have been split into $67 billion for the military (easy to get from Congress) and $20 billion for reconstruction (hard to get).


Sen. Jim Bunning, a conservative Republican with a short fuse, exploded recently when his telephone call to Treasury Secretary John Snow was returned by a bureaucrat.

Bunning wanted to talk about coal, which is of great importance to the senator's state of Kentucky. He was concerned about an Internal Revenue Service inquiry into coal owners claiming tax advantages for synthetic fuels. Consequently, he was not happy to get an underling on the phone instead of the secretary.

Snow was touted to members of Congress as being much more accessible than Paul O'Neill, his often-peevish predecessor at the Treasury. Other Republican senators echo Bunning's complaint, but the problem is thought to be with Treasury staffers rather than the secretary.


Robert Novak

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

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