Robert Novak

 Financier George happens to be Jewish, but he is not principally concerned with Dean's unenthusiastic support for Israel. His complaint is Dean's softness on foreign policy, characterized by his campaign promise to seek a fair trial for Osama bin Laden. He and other disaffected Democrats want restored the old formula of domestic liberalism wedded to a hard-line foreign policy.

 That job description fits former Rep. Martin Frost, a former chairman of the House Democratic Caucus. Despite less than exciting performances at regional conferences for DNC chairman candidates, Frost has emerged as the leading prospect to stop Dean. One key Frost supporter told me his candidate is "still in the game" but that it is not a "horse race." In other words, Dean is close to clinching the chairmanship.

 As unlikely as it might seem for Dean to be the party's leader, he has been more aggressive -- and tougher -- than anybody else seeking the chairmanship. Democratic sources report that Dean has made it clear to New Hampshire and Iowa committee members that if they want their states to keep first-of-the-nation precedence in presidential voting, they had better support him for chairman. Or, conversely, if they don't want to maintain their privileged status, don't vote for Dean.

 Stop-Dean Democrats have experienced one disappointment after another. Iowa Gov. Tom Vilsack decided not to run. Former Michigan Gov. Jim Blanchard dropped out. The Democratic Governors Association did not endorse. The final hope for intervention rests with Democratic state chairmen, who will be polled by telephone in a nationwide conference call this morning (Monday). The guess is, however, they will merely put out a list of acceptable candidates. They may find Dean acceptable, but the party's money sources do not.

Robert Novak

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

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