WASHINGTON -- President Bush's statement Wednesday to Republican congressional leaders acknowledging that he should do a better job handling immigration followed a report to him by aides that the conservative base is deeply concerned about that issue.
Republican House members returning from the Memorial Day recess last week told the White House that their constituents are most concerned about two issues: fiscal responsibility and immigration. In both parties, elite leadership does not appreciate rank-and-file worries about the flood of immigrants and government aid to them.
A footnote: Republican voters' concern about fiscal responsibility is mainly directed at reducing spending. However, Republican senators last week informed President Bush he will be overridden if he vetoes a highway bill whose spending levels exceed his specifications.
THE NEXT CONFIRMATIONS
The next two Senate test votes on judicial confirmations are likely to be cast on White House aide Brett Kavanaugh and U.S. District Judge Terrence Boyle of North Carolina, both named to federal appellate courts.
Kavanaugh and Boyle are not included in the bipartisan compromise on confirmation. If Democrats refuse to end debate on them, Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist is expected to invoke the "nuclear option" to confirm them by majority vote.
A footnote: Michigan Appeals Court Judge Henry Saad, one of two judicial nominees sacrificed in the compromise agreement, may not even have the 50 votes needed for majority approval, much less the 60 senators needed for cloture.
The nonstop campaign by Sen. John Kerry, aimed at a second presidential nomination, asked Wednesday for public donations to fund a television ad that he said would be shown in the hometowns of leading Republicans.
In a "Dear Friend" letter on the Internet, Kerry called for an end to "partisan wrangling." He asked support for his "Kids First" bill helping "the 11 million children in America who live without health insurance."
The ad, Kerry said, "will run across America, focused where it can do the most good -- in the hometowns of politicians like [Senate Majority Leader] Bill Frist, [Sen.] Rick Santorum, [House Majority Leader] Tom DeLay and [Sen.] Trent Lott." They are Nashville, Pittsburgh, Houston and Pascagoula, Miss.
Participation by Republican Sen. Mike DeWine of Ohio in negotiations that achieved at least a temporary solution of the judicial confirmation problem may help sink his son, County Commissioner Pat DeWine, in a Republican primary Tuesday in Cincinnati.
Less than a month ago, the younger DeWine seemed a cinch to succeed Rob Portman, the new U.S. trade representative, in the heavily Republican district. However, he has slipped badly because of personal accusations against him and because of his father's role as one of seven Republican senators (called the "Seven Dwarfs" by critics) who forged the confirmation compromise.
Tuesday's primary is now wide open for a four-candidate field that includes former Rep. Bob McEwen, who served in Congress for 12 years ending in 1992.
Rep. Richard Baker of Louisiana, the conservative choice to be the next chairman of the House Financial Services Committee, privately met about 20 leaders in the Wall Street financial community recently in New York City and impressed them with his command of the issues.
Baker's principal opponent is centrist Rep. Deborah Pryce of Ohio, who is stepping down as House Republican Conference chairman. Pryce is opposed for the post by conservatives, but is well connected to the GOP leadership and enjoys seniority over Baker. The present Financial Services chairman, Rep. Michael Oxley of Ohio, must leave because of term limits.
A footnote: A dark horse for the job is Rep. David Dreier of California, currently part of the leadership as House Rules Committee chairman. Dreier may be able to escape term limits as Rules chairman because that post is appointed by the speaker of the House. If he is forced out at Rules, however, he may try for Financial Services.