Robert Novak

WASHINGTON -- Sen. John Kerry's campaign is putting out word that it is time for Sen. John Edwards to leave the presidential race. The Massachusetts lawmaker's one-sided primary wins Tuesday in Virginia and Tennessee undermined the North Carolinian's claims to be the South's candidate.

Edwards is still first choice for vice president among key Kerry advisers, but they say he will needlessly hurt his chances if he keeps running for president. Kerry does not want to expend more time and money in those states after the nomination really has been wrapped up.

A footnote: New Mexico Gov. Bill Richardson, whose mother is Mexican and resides in Mexico City, is increasingly talked about as Kerry's running mate to attract the expanding Latino vote. Kerry-Richardson would be the first national Democratic ticket without a Southerner since Walter Mondale and Geraldine Ferraro lost 49 of 50 states in 1984.


Republican middlemen gave up their last hope of bringing James P. Hoffa closer to President Bush when the Teamsters president returned to Washington as a fiercely partisan Democrat after campaigning in Iowa for Rep. Richard Gephardt's presidential campaign.

Hoffa, who excoriated Bush in speeches all over Iowa, left the state indicting the Republican administration for job losses that he encountered there. However, Labor Department officials who deal closely with Hoffa say he had become bitterly anti-Bush long ago.

Hoffa attended the University of Michigan Law School with Gephardt, and Republican operatives had hoped the labor leader would stay neutral after Gephardt withdrew. Instead, Sen. John Kerry convinced Hoffa that as president, he would try to impose international trade restrictions, winning the Teamsters' endorsement.


House Democrats who have launched a planned attack on President Bush are irritated that a colleague, Rep. Sherrod Brown of Ohio, picked the wrong target at the wrong time in riling up Secretary of State Colin Powell.

During a House International Relations Committee hearing, Brown told Powell the president "may have been AWOL" from the Alabama National Guard in 1972. "You don't know what you are talking about," an angry Powell told Brown. When the congressman repeated his insinuation, the former four-star general flashed his famous stare, asserting: "Mr. Brown, let's not go there."

Brown, one of the most partisan Democrats in Congress, is working closely with Rep. Rahm Emanuel of Illinois in attempting to chip away at the president's credibility. However, they did not intend to provoke a fight with Powell.


Robert Novak

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

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