Robert Novak

WASHINGTON -- The Republican National Committee will hold a big-ticket, exclusive fundraiser March 26 at the palatial mansion of boxing promoter Don King in Manalapan, Fla. The price: $25,000 per couple, with admission limited to the first 25 couples.

King, who occasionally has been prosecuted but not convicted in connection with the operation of his boxing empire, has been a political switch-hitter contributing to both parties. In the current election cycle, he has given not only to George W. Bush but also to Democratic presidential hopefuls Richard Gephardt and Carol Moseley Braun.

"Let's Get Ready to Rumble!" begins the dinner invitation. Continuing the sports theme, it says "warm-ups" (reception) start at 6 p.m. with the "main event" (dinner) at 7. Those who pay the $25,000 are guaranteed reservations at the nearby Ritz-Carlton Hotel in Palm Beach.

KERRY'S MISTAKE

Veteran Democratic politicians feel Sen. John Kerry made his first serious mistake as presumptive presidential nominee when he claimed foreign leaders privately said they wanted him to defeat President Bush.

Kerry's basic error was making a claim that, true or false, he never could substantiate. He also is criticized inside his party for compounding the mistake in two ways: he modified what he first said and then blundered by getting into a shouting match with a Republican heckler.

That performance may make Kerry look un-presidential. But the Democratic old pros say this is mitigated by new campaign laws that make George W. Bush take responsibility for the barrage of anti-Kerry ads.

THAT CHINA FACTORY

Commerce Department officials who vetted Nebraska industrialist Tony Raimondo as President Bush's new manufacturing czar were aware that he operated a factory in China. They believed that experience would benefit Raimondo in a new assistant secretary of commerce post intended to promote manufacturing jobs in America.

Democratic senators went on an anti-China rampage when Sen. John Kerry leaked word of Raimondo's selection. Raimondo withdrew his name after Senate Republican leaders informed the White House that the confirmation process would be long, bitter and doubtful.

Commerce officials also mistakenly believed Raimondo's way with Senate Democrats would be eased by his business relationship with and approval by Democratic Sen. Ben Nelson of Nebraska. Actually, Nelson's occasional votes for Bush administration policies have not made him popular in the Senate Democratic caucus.

GAY MARRIAGE CONGRESSMAN

Democratic Rep. Tim Bishop, who represents the eastern tip of Long Island, N.Y., became a choice election target for Republican strategists March 11 when he presided over a gay marriage in East Hampton, N.Y.

The New York Sunday Times society page listing of weddings reported that Bishop "led the commitment ceremony" between Dr. Charles Guy Hitchcock and David Wilt. Hitchcock is dean of Southampton College on Long Island, where Bishop was provost before being elected to Congress in 2002.

Bishop's district is one of the nation's most volatile politically, switching back and forth between Republican and Democratic House members. Republican Felix Grucci lost the last election after running an ad alleging that Bishop was soft on rape.

SPECTER'S FRIEND

Sen. Rick Santorum of Pennsylvania, one of the Republican Party's rising conservative stars, is alienating allies nationwide with his support for his liberal Republican colleague from Pennsylvania, Sen. Arlen Specter.

Santorum's latest boost for Specter in the April 27 Pennsylvania primary is a television ad in which Santorum says: "Arlen is with us on votes that matter." That infuriated conservatives who note that Specter voted against the Supreme Court confirmation of Robert Bork and removal from office of Bill Clinton, and for shrinking the 2001 Bush tax cut. Of Sen. John Kerry's 26 key votes listed by the Republican National Committee, Specter voted with him 10 times.

Polls show the primary challenge to Specter by Rep. Pat Toomey getting closer. Toomey has backing from conservatives across the country, who are upset by Santorum's stand. Santorum is a strong contender to be the next Senate majority leader.


Robert Novak

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

 
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