Robert Novak

 At last week's Senate Foreign Relations Committee meeting, Martinez asked that Gray's nomination be held. Martinez did not explain his objection to colleagues, and an aide told me it was "personal." After a meeting between Gray and Martinez, the aide said, Martinez will not continue to hold at the next committee meeting in two weeks. Because of delay, Gray will not take up his post in Brussels until well into November.


 "Barbour for President" bumper stickers that suddenly appeared in the Washington area were designed by one of Mississippi Gov. Haley Barbour's top political operatives.

 Barbour has become a presidential possibility for the 2008 Republican presidential nomination thanks to his handling of Hurricane Katrina on the Mississippi Gulf Coast. His performance compared favorably with disaster management in neighboring Louisiana.

 A footnote: Joining Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney and Sen. Sam Brownback of Kansas, both presidential prospects, as a speaker at last month's Republican conference at Mackinac Island, Mich., was Tommy Thompson, former governor of Wisconsin and U.S. secretary of Health and Human Services. He is interested in a presidential bid.


 Republicans have begun a campaign to discredit Ronnie Earle, the Texas prosecutor who brought the indictment of Rep. Tom DeLay and his resignation as House majority leader.

 The Washington-based Free Enterprise Fund's TV ad contends that Travis County (Austin) District Attorney Earle's campaign against DeLay is aimed at "the Bush free-market agenda." It adds: "Ronnie Earle, the partisan prosecutor investigating DeLay's political activities, gave a speech attacking him to liberal activists, raising money to support high-tax, big-government candidates."

 Earle's speech was delivered last May 12 in Dallas to a $500-a-ticket fund-raiser for Democratic candidates. He referred to DeLay as a "bully," even though his grand jury was then investigating the majority leader.

Robert Novak

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

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