Robert Novak

 WASHINGTON -- Republican leaders are grumbling that the White House was much too slow in responding to Democratic attacks on George W. Bush about the disappearance of munitions in Iraq.

 When asked by CNN about the dubious New York Times story that ran Monday, President Bush refused comment -- more than a day after its publication. Not until Wednesday morning did the Republican candidate start to reply to John Kerry's attack. In the meantime, Tuesday night tracking showed Kerry picking up sharply.

 A footnote: No immediate effort was made to get retired Gen. Tommy Franks, commander of the Iraq operation and now a Bush supporter, to rebut Kerry. Plans for his response were not completed until Thursday.

MTV POLITICS

 Pro-Kerry Web sites are pushing for free airtime on MTV in the final days of the campaign to run the video of Eminem singing "Mosh," which attacks George W. Bush, the Iraq war and the Patriot Act.

 MTV's most popular music-video show is "TRL" (Total Request Live), which gives viewers the choice of what they want to hear. Bloggers are attempting a massive vote for Mosh to put it on the air in the closing days of the campaign.

 Mosh contains a lot of unattractive Bush footage, uses the words "F--- Bush," calls President Bush a "weapon of mass destruction" and concludes by telling viewers to vote. Eminem (real name: Marshall Mathers) is a white rapper who is notorious for misogynist and homophobic lyrics.

BUSH TACTICS

 Although George W. Bush's campaign supposedly is concentrating on the Republican base, he spent Monday and Tuesday the week before the election in two parts of closely contested states that he lost in 2000: southwest Wisconsin and northeast Iowa.

 President Bush made explicit appeals to "discerning Democrats" in LaCrosse County, Wis., and Dubuque County, Iowa -- socially conservative Democratic areas with low unemployment. Bush's seven-point 2000 loss in LaCrosse accounted for 80 percent of his 5,108-vote loss in Wisconsin. He lost Dubuque by 14 percentage points, totaling more than his 4,144-vote Iowa deficit four years ago.

 A footnote: Bush turned off enthusiastic audiences in Wisconsin and Iowa by droning on about Subchapter S Corporations, which can benefit small businesses from what Democrats condemn as tax cuts for the rich.

NONPARTISAN JOE

 Democrats eager to capitalize on failure to pass an intelligence reform bill in the final days of the campaign privately complain that their plans have been spoiled by Democratic Sen. Joseph Lieberman's nonpartisan efforts to reach agreement.

 Hard-line Democrats led by Sen. Richard Durbin have been preparing to attack President Bush for not passing into law recommendations of the independent 9/11 commission by putting critical family members on weekend television programs. To accomplish that, Thursday was the effective deadline for declaring an impasse in Senate-House negotiations. Instead, Lieberman, senior Senate Democrat on the Conference Committee, insisted on still trying to get a bill.

 A footnote: The Durbin scenario also was undermined when Philip Zelikow, the independent commission's executive director, unexpectedly sided with the House Republican version of the reform bill.

DASCHLE'S PINK SLIP

 The South Dakota Republican Party has mailed to a national list of contributors a "pink slip" soliciting eleventh hour funds against Senate Democratic Leader Tom Daschle's re-election.

 Labeled "Notice of Dismissal," the card lists possible contributions from $25
to $1,000 supporting former Republican Rep. John Thune against Daschle. "Here's your last chance to hand him the PINK SLIP he deserves," says the card.

 A footnote: Rep. Charlie Rangel of New York, senior Democrat on the tax-writing House Ways and Means Committee, in an Oct. 13 letter asked his contributors for "an additional $1,000 payable to Rangel for Congress" even though he faces only token opposition for re-election. The money would be sent to Democratic congressional candidates in close contests.


Robert Novak

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

 
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