Nancy not pleased

Robert Novak

11/1/2003 12:00:00 AM - Robert Novak

WASHINGTON -- House Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi, a Californian, was upset Wednesday when she found that her meeting with Gov.-elect Arnold Schwarzenegger included a key California Republican: Rep. David Dreier, head of the new governor's transition team.

The word on Capitol Hill is that Pelosi was steaming because her meeting with Schwarzenegger was held in the House Rules Committee offices of Chairman Dreier, with Dreier sitting in. Dreier is being urged by party leaders to run against Democratic Sen. Barbara Boxer next year.

A footnote: A reception for Schwarzenegger and a Pelosi fund-raiser were held in the same Capitol Hill building at the same time Wednesday night. Several Democratic House members from California dropped into the Schwarzenegger event, but not Pelosi. Also on hand for the Republican governor-elect's victory celebration were several of his Kennedy in-laws, including Eunice Shriver, Ethel Kennedy, Kathleen Kennedy Townsend and Caroline Kennedy Schlossberg.

ENDING STEEL TARIFFS

President Bush is ready to roll back his steel tariffs as soon as the World Trade Organization (WTO) rules against them by rejecting a formal appeal by the U.S. government.

Although the Bush administration was split down the middle when the tariffs were imposed last year, all key policymakers now agree the move has been an economic failure. The question has been whether Bush political adviser Karl Rove would go along, but sources now say he is on board for repeal.

The steel tariffs are regarded inside the administration as having done more harm than good, both politically and economically. Whatever help they gave the ailing steel industry was overridden by damage to steel-purchasing manufacturers -- especially the auto parts industry.

STILL SEN. GRAHAM

The bipartisan consensus among high-level Florida politicians is that Sen. Bob Graham, having ended his run for the Democratic presidential nomination, will seek a fourth term in the Senate next year.

Graham, though weakened by his poor presidential campaign, would be favored to keep his Senate seat. The only Florida Republican given an edge over him is Gov. Jeb Bush, who has no intention of leaving the governorship after last year's re-election.

A footnote: The only other incumbent senator whose 2004 intentions are still in doubt is Democrat John Breaux of Louisiana. He would be a sure winner for a fourth term, but his retirement would open the way for a Republican takeover.

THE PRESIDENT'S HELICOPTER

President Bush is being pressed by his two closest European allies to award the contract for the U.S. presidential helicopter to the Anglo-Italian Augusta Westland company, replacing Connecticut-based Sikorsky Aircraft Corp.

Britain's Tony Blair and Italy's Silvio Berlusconi, who have supported military action in Iraq, have lobbied Bush for the Marine One contract. Augusta Westland has hooked up with Bell Helicopter and Lockheed Martin to compete for construction of the president's helicopter fleet, which is due for replacement.

Sikorsky, which has produced and maintained Marine One since 1957, has put over $500 million of its own funds into the new model, VH-92. Augusta Westland's US-101 is heavily subsidized by the British and Italian governments.

CHARLIE NORWOOD'S ENEMIES

Rep. Charlie Norwood, a back-bench conservative Republican from Georgia, this week lashed out against a Democratic candidate for president and the Republican mayor of New York City for attacking his bill to encourage local enforcement of immigration laws.

Sen. Joseph Lieberman recently assailed the Norwood bill in a speech to the Latino Peace Officers Association. Mayor Michael Bloomberg put Norwood on his blacklist of House Republicans. Norwood accused Bloomberg of seeking "a safe harbor for the 80,000 criminal aliens living within our borders." The congressman accused Lieberman of "tired and empty rhetoric."

A footnote: House Republicans were amazed by Bloomberg's enemies list of four GOP congressmen, urging New Yorkers not to contribute to any of them. In addition to Norwood, they include House Majority Leader Tom DeLay of Texas, Mark Kennedy of Minnesota and Tom Tancredo of Colorado.