Robert Novak

 WASHINGTON -- President Bush will go to Pittsburgh April 19 on a rescue mission attempting to save four-term Sen. Arlen Specter, who faces an increasingly serious conservative challenge from Rep. Pat Toomey in the April 27 Pennsylvania Republican primary.

 As a matter of policy, Bush supports all incumbent Republican members of Congress. He plans to campaign at Specter's side in Pittsburgh. He will then go to Hershey without the senator, but is expected during his visit there to call for Specter's renomination.

 Polls have shown Toomey gaining ground on Specter, and Bush's trip may be necessary to stop that trend. Specter, a tough political infighter, disappointed his supporters in last Saturday's sole televised debate between the Republican Senate candidates. Specter repeatedly referred to notes, sometimes looked confused and once referred to "President Reagan" when he meant "President Bush."


 Prominent liberal Democrats privately express concern over widespread national exposure given Sen. Edward M. Kennedy as chief campaign surrogate for his Massachusetts Senate colleague, John Kerry.

 "We already have Teddy's voters," said one prominent liberal strategist who was concerned about TV repetition Monday and Tuesday of Kennedy's "Iraq is Vietnam" speech. They view him as a polarizing force who will not help Kerry with swing voters.

 Kennedy is eager to assault George W. Bush on many issues, primarily Iraq, and nobody in the Kerry camp will tell him to ease off. Rather, Kerry strategists contend Kennedy is useful in taking shots at Bush that would be inappropriate for the candidate himself.


 Sen. Charles Schumer's colleagues in the New York congressional delegation, both Republicans and Democrats, are certain that he is considering running for governor of New York in 2006 as a stepping stone to the White House.

 According to these reports, Schumer has been discouraged by his wife, New York City Transportation Commissioner Iris Weinshall. Whether or not that is true, it is universally agreed that Chuck and Iris comprise a political team and make decisions together.

 Schumer's congressional colleagues say he is frustrated by the presence of the state's junior senator, Hillary Rodham Clinton, and has explored moving to Albany after his expected easy re-election to the Senate this year. The problem in getting the Democratic nomination for governor is the candidacy by the popular State Attorney General Eliot Spitzer.


Robert Novak

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

©Creators Syndicate