Dodd for president

Robert Novak
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Posted: Aug 20, 2006 12:01 AM

WASHINGTON -- Sen. Christopher Dodd of Connecticut has moved from talking about a 2008 bid for the Democratic presidential nomination to actually planning his campaign. Fund-raising operations are being put in place, and political operatives are being recruited.

Like the other Democratic presidential hopefuls (except for Sen. Joseph Biden of Delaware), Dodd has not publicly announced his candidacy. However, Dodd's friends say he feels that at age 64 in 2008, this might be his last chance for the White House. In 1994, he lost a bid for the Senate Democratic leadership by a margin of one vote and then served two years as general chairman of the Democratic Party.

A footnote: Dodd supported Sen. Joseph Lieberman's unsuccessful bid for renomination in Connecticut, but he had whispered to Republican colleagues that he expected peace candidate Ned Lamont to win the primary. Dodd has endorsed Lamont in the general election.

"MORNING AFTER"

The White House is considering pleas by anti-abortion activists to pull back the nomination of Dr. Andrew von Eschenbach to head the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) because of his support for the Plan B "morning-after" pill.

Von Eschenbach has filled the FDA post under a recess appointment, but Sen. Hillary Clinton put a hold on his confirmation because his agency had not approved Plan B as an over-the-counter drug. In response, he now has endorsed the pill. It is a steroid that can prevent pregnancies either before or after conception.

Human Life International, Concerned Women for America, the Family Research Council, the National Pro-Life Action Center and the American Life League have each separately called for President Bush to withdraw von Eschenbach's nomination.

SAVING JANE HARMAN

Influential House Democrats are quietly challenging Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi's edict that her fellow Californian, national security hard-liner Jane Harman, should be dropped as top Democrat on the House Intelligence Committee and replaced by left-wing Rep. Alcee Hastings of Florida.

Republican campaign strategists are citing Hastings as typical of the new committee chairmen who would be empowered if the Democrats capture the House in this year's election. Hastings was elected to Congress in 1992 after the House impeached him and the Senate removed him as a federal judge as a result of a bribery case.

Harman has been under attack by Hastings's colleagues in the Congressional Black Caucus and other left-wing Democrats as too soft on President Bush's policies. But she has allies who foresee a post-election contest between her and Hastings with the outcome impossible to predict.

AFTER HENRY HYDE

National Republican strategists are deeply concerned about the possible loss of the retiring Rep. Henry Hyde's Chicago suburban district, and have brought in an ace political operative to try to save the campaign.

Hyde won the district with 65 percent and 56 percent in his last two campaigns, while President George W. Bush carried it with 53 percent in 2004 despite the lack of a serious statewide Republican campaign that year. However, double amputee Iraq war veteran Tammy Duckworth this year is a formidable candidate leading a major Democratic effort against conservative State Sen. Peter Roskam.

Jason Roe, chief of staff to Rep. Tom Feeney of Florida and an experienced campaign manager, has been brought in to buck up Roskam's flagging effort.

NONSUPPORTIVE PRESIDENT

George W. Bush's refusal to support Alan Schlesinger in Connecticut marks the first time in 36 years that a Republican president has not backed his party's Senate nominee in any state.

In 1970, President Richard Nixon withheld endorsement of Sen. Charles Goodell of New York. Instead, Vice President Spiro T. Agnew actively campaigned for James Buckley, the Conservative Party candidate and winner of the election.

Buckley, like Sen. Joseph Lieberman, backed a president pursuing an unpopular war. The 1970 White House opposed Goodell as an anti-war candidate. The current White House spurns Schlesinger because it considers him too weak to win the election but potentially strong enough to tip the balance to Democratic peace candidate Ned Lamont against the independent Lieberman.