Robert Novak

 WASHINGTON -- Friends of Secretary of State Colin Powell, who has been considered certain to leave government at year's end, say his future is undetermined and will remain so until he sits down for a chat with President Bush.

 These associates say Powell might stay into a second term if Bush is re-elected. Powell's standing with the president has improved lately in relation to Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld.

 The question is whether this indicates Powell's willingness to serve a second term or merely his desire not to be seen now as a lame duck.


 Teresa Heinz Kerry, wife of the Democratic presidential nominee, is helping finance "527" groups that raise large amounts of soft money that candidates for federal office are barred from collecting.

 Mrs. Kerry is a director of the Heinz Foundations, a source of funds that indirectly support Sen. John Kerry's presidential campaign. The Heinz Foundations gave over $9 million to the Tides Foundation, which donates money to environmental 527 groups that, in turn, finance attack ads against President Bush.

 A footnote: Carol Browner, Environmental Protection Agency administrator under President Clinton and a Kerry campaign adviser, is a director of an anti-Bush 527 called Environment 2004. The Kerry campaign and the 527s are required by law to be separated from each other.


 The daily Bush-Cheney campaign conference call Wednesday expressed concern over lack of an effective response to the attack on President Bush's foreign policy by Madeleine Albright, the Clinton administration's second-term secretary of state.

 James A. Baker III, the first Bush administration's secretary of state, does not want to be a surrogate. The former President Bush's National Security Adviser, Gen. Brent Scowcroft, is not in tune with the current President Bush's policies. The top two Republicans on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee -- Richard Lugar of Indiana and Chuck Hagel of Nebraska -- cannot be counted on to stick to the Bush line.

 Albright was all over television Wednesday morning, appearing on NBC, CBS, ABC and CNN, contradicting Secretary of State Powell. The Bush campaign did not have a ready responder to send out.


 Mike Espy, forced to resign as President Clinton's first secretary of agriculture because of an independent counsel's investigation, was the hero of the long battle in Congress concerning overtime regulations. The House voted 223 to 193 Thursday against the Bush administration's position.

Robert Novak

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

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