WASHINGTON - Rep. Mike Pence of Indiana, who led conservative rebels against President Bush's Medicare bill, will deliver the keynote address at the 2004 Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) in Washington -- an honor accorded to Bush stalwarts the past three years.
Vice President Dick Cheney delivered the keynote in 2003, then-Republican National Chairman Marc Racicot in 2002 and then-Republican National Chairman (and Governor of Virginia) Jim Gilmore in 2001. Next year, CPAC also will honor Pence and 24 other House Republicans who broke party ranks to vote no on Medicare.
A footnote: Eight of nine lobbyists who had confirmed contributions for a Pence fund-raiser canceled when the congressman opposed the president on Medicare. Pence instructed aides not to show him names of the canceled donors.
BUSH VS. BUSH
Mel Martinez will resign as secretary of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) this week to run for the U.S. Senate from Florida at the repeated urging of President George W. Bush. But the president's brother, Florida Gov. Jeb Bush, is against clearing the way for Martinez in the Republican primary.
White House aides want other candidates to drop out and give Martinez a clear shot at the Senate now that Democratic Sen. Bob Graham has announced his retirement. Martinez is widely considered the strongest Republican candidate as a Cuban-American, the former chief executive of Orange County (Orlando) and a Florida State University alumnus.
However, Gov. Bush has praised candidates "who had the courage to run when Bob Graham was still in the race." The officially neutral governor is close to one candidate, State Sen. Dan Webster.
Democratic members of the Senate Judiciary Committee, demanding an investigation of how Republicans recently obtained Democratic staff memos, used Republican intercepted memos earlier this year to oppose confirmation of Alabama Attorney General Bill Pryor as an appellate judge.
Sen. Charles Schumer of New York, who has expressed outrage over leaks of Democratic communications, in July applauded leaker Kelly Foradori as a "whistle-blower." A former staffer for the Republican Attorneys General Association, Foradori gave Senate Democrats memos and call sheets highlighting Pryor's role in raising funds for the organization. These documents were to buttress the Democratic argument that Pryor is too political to be a judge.
The Democrats also used a purloined Republican e-mail describing plans for the 30-hour Republican marathon in the Senate that protested blockage of judicial confirmations.