WASHINGTON -- Super-lobbyist Ed Gillespie has been given his own office in the West Wing of the White House to manage President Bush's Supreme Court confirmation battle. That raised speculation Gillespie could be chief of staff for the end of the Bush presidency.
Republican lobbyists Ken Duberstein and Tom Korologos were given judicial confirmation chores in years past without moving permanently into the West Wing. Insiders believe Gillespie, a protege of Bush political adviser Karl Rove, is being groomed to replace Andrew Card as chief of staff for Bush's last two years as president.
Less than a decade ago, Gillespie was a mere aide to then House Majority Leader Dick Armey. He left to become a lobbyist and has been called on by Rove for political tasks: running Elizabeth Dole's 2002 campaign for the U.S. Senate from North Carolina, Republican National Committee chairman in 2003-2004 and now the judicial confirmation assignment.
Supporters of John Bolton's confirmation as U.S. ambassador to the United Nations want to make one last try to get 60 senators to break the filibuster instead of President Bush renominating Bolton during the next congressional recess to avoid Senate confirmation.
Contrary to published reports, Bolton has not personally urged a recess appointment. Because such an appointee would have to leave office when this Congress adjourns, Bolton would have little more than 13 months in office.
Hopes for 60 cloture votes hinge on settling the dispute over intelligence documents demanded by Bolton's critics. While progress has been made, Democratic Sen. Chris Dodd remains uncompromising in leading opposition against Bolton.
Democratic National Chairman Howard Dean has drastically lowered his profile in the last three weeks, but that has not stopped complaints about him from prominent Democrats.
In touring Republican red states carried by George W. Bush, Dean was snubbed June 30 when he went to New Orleans. None of Louisiana's top Democrats -- Gov. Kathleen Blanco, Lt. Gov. Mitch Landrieu and State Democratic Chairman Jim Bernhard -- showed up.
Inside party circles, Dean is a principal topic of conversation -- not all of it, but most of it, unfavorable.
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