Robert Novak

WASHINGTON -- Democratic insiders take seriously a possible new try for the presidency by Al Gore and say he is capable of raising more money than the presumptive front-runner, Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton.
Clinton's team has attempted to foreclose conventional Democratic money sources, drying up funding for her potential presidential rivals. She has $17.1 million cash on hand, more than any other possible candidate. Her current fund-raising tour is aimed at an additional $40 million.

 However, party operatives believe former Vice President Gore can outdo Clinton through unconventional fund-raising on the Internet. By campaigning left of Clinton, Gore appeals to ardent anti-war Democrats. Gore's first presidential run in 1988 positioned him as the centrist candidate, to the right of eventual nominee Michael Dukakis.


 The 377 to 38 vote by which the House Wednesday preserved anti-Dubai Ports World language in an appropriations bill was set up by Republican leaders to give GOP members of Congress a chance to go on record against U.S. ports management by a United Arab Emirates (UAE) state-owned company.

 Republicans asked two senior congressmen retiring from Congress -- Michael Oxley of Ohio and Jim Kolbe of Arizona -- to introduce the fake amendment supporting the now defunct UAE deal. Both declined, though they voted for the amendment. It was introduced by Rep. Wayne Gilchrest, a maverick liberal Republican from Maryland's Eastern Shore.

 A footnote: President Bush was in the Capitol's Statuary Hall next to the House chamber during the debate and vote on the ports deal. Bush was attending an event marking the anniversary of the Hungarian revolution of 1848.


 Rep. James Sensenbrenner, the House Judiciary Committee chairman, was not present at a March 8 press conference celebrating passage of his bill forcing registration of child sex predators. According to congressional sources, Sensenbrenner absented himself from the event after learning Ed Smart, father of kidnap victim Elizabeth Smart, was present there.

 In 2003, Smart attacked Sensenbrenner's handling of the Amber Alert bill affecting abducted children. The father opposed attaching the measure to a comprehensive crime bill that many Democratic House members were against.

 Sensenbrenner declined comment on his absence. He was present Feb. 28 when members of victims' families, but not Smart, met to promote the Sensenbrenner bill. Smart thanked Sensenbrenner for the legislation last Tuesday on Fox's "Hannity and Colmes."


Robert Novak

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

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