Muzzling Terry

Robert Novak

3/6/2004 12:00:00 AM - Robert Novak

WASHINGTON -- Presidential nominee-apparent John Kerry has no intention of forcing out Terry McAuliffe as Democratic National chairman for the time being but wants him to watch his words more closely.

After Sen. Kerry clinched the nomination in Super Tuesday's primaries, an aide told reporters the campaign wanted to get McAuliffe entirely off television. That is not exactly the campaign's position, but the senator's aides do want to restrain the chairman. He recently publicly declared that he would continue to attack George W. Bush's National Guard record even though Kerry disapproved of that approach.

McAuliffe's job appears to be safe at least through the party's national convention in Boston this summer. A Washington dealmaker, McAuliffe was not a popular choice to head the Democratic National Committee following the 2000 election. Bill and Hillary Clinton insisted on it, and Al Gore decided not to make a fight.

THE TWO JOHNS

Sen. John Edwards ended his presidential candidacy just in time to avoid being written off as Sen. John Kerry's potential running mate.

The Kerry campaign did not relish the thought of dipping into its diminished war chest to battle North Carolinian Edwards in Texas and other Southern primaries coming up next Tuesday. The message was conveyed to Edwards that Kerry wanted to save available funds for the campaign against President Bush and Edwards had better get out.

A footnote: Kerry's strategists made a calculated decision to expend major resources in Tuesday's Georgia primary to block Edwards' big effort there, and they barely won the gamble. A victory in Georgia would not really have moved Edwards any closer to the nomination, but the Kerry high command did not want him to have another Southern triumph to go along with his win in South Carolina.

NORTH KOREA'S CHOICE

North Korea's communist dictator Kim Jong Il, a keen student of everything American, is privately predicting that George W. Bush will be defeated for re-election and that will improve relations between his regime and the U.S. government.

Kim's forecast was made to subordinates in the North Korean regime, who in turn passed it on to Japanese friends. It subsequently found its way into Tokyo press circles, though it has not yet been printed.

According to these reports, the communist dictator has expressed his dissatisfaction about dealing with Bush. He is said to have much preferred his contacts with President Bill Clinton and expressed hope that the same kind of cooperation might be possible if John Kerry is elected.

MCCAIN'S WARMING

As George W. Bush's re-election campaign was launched Wednesday, the Republican chairman of the Senate Commerce Committee -- Sen. John McCain -- conducted a hearing on climate change with testimony strictly from witnesses whose views contradict the president's.

The leadoff witness was Sen. Joseph Lieberman, who is not a member of the Commerce Committee. "I feel we are within reach of finally taking action to combat this global warming," Lieberman began. McCain is co-sponsor of Lieberman's global warming bill, which was a keystone of the senator's recent unsuccessful campaign for the Democratic presidential nomination.

Lieberman was followed by a panel of five expert witnesses, all of whom disagree with the Bush administration on climate change. They included staffers from Conservation International and the World Wildlife Fund.

LUGAR'S DEMOCRAT

The Texas Democrat who ran against Republican Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison is hosting a $1,000-a-ticket fund-raising reception for Sen. Richard Lugar of Indiana, the Republican chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, at the Hotel George in Washington on the evening of March 29.

Richard Fisher, though a Democrat, praised Lugar's unsuccessful GOP presidential candidacy in 1996. A Dallas financier, Fisher in 1997 was named deputy U.S. trade representative by President Bill Clinton.

In 1994, Fisher was the surprise winner of the Democratic Senate nomination to oppose Hutchison. He claimed to have been an adviser to Conservative British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher, who said their association was minor. Hutchison defeated Fisher by 23 percentage points.