Robert Novak

WASHINGTON -- Sources close to New York Gov. George Pataki say he has been asked whether he would consider filling the vacancy of U.S. ambassador to the United Nations.

 No firm offer has been made to Pataki, who is without diplomatic or international experience. The U.N. assignment would immediately rule out Pataki for a possible fourth term as governor next year. However, experience in international affairs might boost his 2008 presidential ambitions.

 President Bush is under pressure to fill the U.N. vacancy, created Thursday when the resignation of John Danforth (after serving only six months) became effective. During Senate Foreign Relations Committee confirmation hearings, Secretary of State-designate Condoleezza Rice was pushed to replace Danforth immediately.


 Sen. John Kerry's unexpected vote in the Senate Foreign Relations Committee against Condoleezza Rice's confirmation as secretary of state suggested the 2004 candidate is interested in another try for president.

 Based on his Senate record, Kerry might have been predicted to follow the lead of Sen. Joseph Biden of Delaware, the top Democrat on Foreign Relations: express disappointment and reservations, but vote for Rice anyway. Instead, he was the only committee member other than Sen. Barbara Boxer of California to vote no.

 Kerry's vote appealed to Democratic primary voters, who tend to be more anti-Bush than the party's leaders. His opposition to Rice could attract supporters of Howard Dean, who has sworn off running for president in '08 if he is elected chairman of the Democratic National Committee.


 Joann Davidson, a supporter of abortion rights elected on Wednesday as co-chairman of the Republican National Committee (RNC), has privately promised social conservatives not to speak to any pro-choice groups while she holds her party post.

 Davidson's selection triggered criticism in the pro-life movement, but she is given a high rating by President Bush's political inner circle. A former speaker of the Ohio House of Representatives, she was chairman of Bush's campaign in her state where a win was necessary for the president's re-election. Davidson was a counterforce to unpopular Republican Gov. Bob Taft, who was no help for Bush.

 The RNC's co-chairmanship almost always goes to a pro-choice woman but is a job with no power. Davidson has pledged to support whatever the president wants.


Robert Novak

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

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