Robert Novak

WASHINGTON -- Democratic political operatives are worried about the Bush-Cheney re-election campaign's ability to quickly transform gaffes by presidential candidate John Kerry into effective television ads.

Sen. Kerry committed his first serious mistake since clinching the nomination on a Tuesday. His words were part of a Republican ad in the hands of cable networks and other television stations by Thursday morning.

At a town hall meeting March 16 in Huntington, W.Va., Kerry said: "I actually did vote for the $87 billion (to finance the war in Iraq) before I voted against it." At Bush-Cheney headquarters in suburban northern Virginia, this was immediately spotted by Bush ad-maker Mark McKinnon as he monitored the senator's speech. "Put it in the loop!" McKinnon shouted, ordering Kerry's taped comments for a quick TV ad.


Chicago Democratic enemies of the Rev. Jesse Jackson and his son the congressman are claiming that the landslide nomination for the U.S. Senate of State Sen. Barack Obama means the Jacksons are washed up in Illinois politics.

Rep. Jesse Jackson Jr. vigorously denies that, contending he and Obama support each other. Nevertheless, anti-Jackson Democrats are delighted that Jesse Jr. has been supplanted by Obama as the top African American among Illinois Democrats.

The word has been spread in Chicago Democratic circles that the Jacksons plan to relocate in California, but the congressman told this column that there is absolutely no truth to that report.


Just as national Democratic operatives had grown optimistic about retaining the U.S. Senate seat in South Carolina left vacant by the retirement of Sen. Ernest F. Hollings, they were stunned when Democratic candidate Inez Tenenbaum endorsed a proposed amendment to the federal constitution banning gay marriage.

Tenenbaum's advisers contend that endorsement was necessary for her to win in socially conservative South Carolina. However, important party strategists in Washington and New York believe she has committed a serious blunder by alienating the homosexual community and its supporters.

Prior to her endorsement of the anti-gay marriage amendment, polls showed State Education Superintendent Tenenbaum leading in the Republican-dominated state against each of the three Republicans competing for the Senate nomination. Former Gov. David Beasley leads in the Republican polls, mainly because of higher name identification, but GOP insiders consider him the weakest general election candidate.


Robert Novak

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

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