Robert Novak

WASHINGTON -- Nationally prominent Republicans are talking to each other about the possibility of getting Florida Gov. Jeb Bush to accept the vice-presidential nomination in 2008 since he has ruled out running for president that year.

 Bush probably would be the front-runner for the party's next presidential nomination if he only had a different last name. GOP politicians agree that five Bush presidential nominations out of the last six campaigns would be one too many for the country to take. But second place on the ticket might be acceptable to voters.

 A footnote: Florida Republican leaders still hope that Bush might change his mind about not running against Democratic Sen. Bill Nelson's bid for a second term in 2006. Nelson is considered vulnerable, but no strong Florida Republican has indicated an interest in running against him.


 The new deputy secretary of state, Robert Zoellick, has met four times this year with his counterpart at the Defense Department, Deputy Secretary Paul Wolfowitz. That quadruples the number of meetings between Wolfowitz and Zoellick's predecessor at State, Richard Armitage, during the past four years.

 The lone meeting between the State and Defense deputies was a one-on-one luncheon at the State Department hosted by Armitage. Wolfowitz failed in efforts for a return meal at the Pentagon. This year Zoellick met with Wolfowitz once even before Zoellick was confirmed by the Senate.

 Wolfowitz and Armitage both served in the Reagan administration's Defense Department as assistant secretaries. But during George W. Bush's first term, they disagreed on broad strategy questions -- including the attack on Iraq.


 While Sen. Trent Lott has not decided whether to seek re-election from Mississippi in 2006, he is seriously considering an attempt to win back the post of Republican leader that he lost two years ago, if he does run.

 Lott was forced to resign the leadership when opposition snowballed in reaction to his praise of Strom Thurmond's pro-segregation 1948 presidential campaign. He has recently been prowling the Senate floor, engaging in friendly chats with fellow Republicans.

 Sen. Bill Frist of Tennessee, who replaced Lott, is not running for re-election in 2006 under self-imposed term limits. Sen. Mitch McConnell of Kentucky, the current assistant leader, would have a clear path to succeed Frist unless Lott opposes him.


Robert Novak

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

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