Robert Novak

WASHINGTON -- Democrats close to Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton take seriously a possible third-party presidential candidacy in 2008 by Michael Bloomberg despite the mayor of New York's disavowal of interest.

 One prominent investment banker with political connections predicts that Bloomberg will dispose of his multibillion-dollar business interests before his term as mayor ends a year before the presidential election. While expected to continue his heavy philanthropy, he will have millions to spare for a presidential campaign.

 A footnote: Unity08, the third-party movement established by ex-Jimmy Carter aides Hamilton Jordan and Gerald Rafshoon, is reported by political insiders to be seeking financial aid from Bloomberg. But if the mayor is going to contribute to such a cause, it likely would be on behalf of his own candidacy.


 Sen. John McCain canceled his scheduled appearance for Republican Brian Bilbray, who won Tuesday's special congressional election in San Diego to replace the disgraced Duke Cunningham, not out of pique but because the National Republican Congressional Committee (NRCC) suggested it would be a good idea.

 McCain canceled his visit after Bilbray repeatedly attacked the Kennedy-McCain immigration "amnesty" bill. The Bilbray campaign did not ask McCain to cancel, and the senator had planned to fulfill his commitment. However, the NRCC suggested McCain's presence would not be helpful in a campaign where Bilbray was stressing opposition to illegal immigration.

 A footnote: Republican National Chairman Ken Mehlman is credited with masterminding operations that retained the congressional seat.


 Bush administration officials are delighted to hear that Wendy Paulson, the liberal Democratic wife of Treasury Secretary-designate Henry Paulson, intends to remain in their upper West Side luxury apartment in Manhattan without moving to Washington.

 Since 1997, Wendy Paulson has contributed $32,800 to Democrats, compared with $10,500 to Republicans ($1,000 to Sen. John McCain for his 2000 presidential run and the rest to liberal Republicans). Her contributions include $6,000 to Sen. Hillary Clinton and $5,000 to HILLPAC (Clinton's political action committee).

 Republicans fear that if Mrs. Paulson is much in evidence at events in the capital, she would be subject to questions from reporters that might result in embarrassing answers.


Robert Novak

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

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