Robert Novak

WASHINGTON -- Former Virginia Gov. Mark Warner's decision to withdraw from consideration for the 2008 presidential nomination has produced speculation at high levels of the Democratic Party that former Vice President Al Gore may run again.

Warner was to challenge front-running Sen. Hillary Clinton from the right, while Gore is on her left. Nevertheless, Gore succeeds Warner as the most likely "non-Hillary" to battle her for the nomination.

A footnote: Warner's withdrawal, after nearly two years of pursuing national support, puzzles Democrats. Only a month ago, he was asking prominent members of the party to back him. Even after getting out, he still told friends he believes he could have won the nomination.


The Republican National Committee (RNC) has intervened with an independent expenditure trying to save Rep. Tom Reynolds, the national House Republican campaign chairman, from defeat in his upstate New York district resulting from the Mark Foley scandal.

The RNC is running an ad, which cannot be coordinated with Reynolds's campaign under federal law, on Buffalo and Rochester television stations. It attacks industrialist Jack Davis, the self-financed Democratic candidate, on his protectionist policies. "Jack Davis wants tariffs on many of the products you buy," says the ad. "It would be like adding a tax on them. Higher prices may not matter to millionaire Jack Davis, but everyone else would feel the pain."

Independent polls showed Reynolds down by double digits in a supposedly safe Republican district after it was revealed he had urged Foley to run for re-election. That gap has been lowered, and Reynolds is not now listed in private Democratic calculations as a sure loser Nov. 7.


House Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi is not expected to actively support her longtime ally, Rep. John Murtha, in his bid to become majority leader if Democrats win control of the House.

Pelosi's non-support would guarantee election of her rival, Rep. Steny Hoyer, as the House's No. 2 Democrat while she becomes speaker without opposition. Murtha had strongly supported Pelosi in her 2001 victory over Hoyer to enter the party leadership.

Murtha, a hero to Iraq War dissenters, lacks support to defeat Hoyer without Pelosi's backing. Hoyer commands the widest popularity among House Democrats to be elected speaker but cannot cope with solid support given Pelosi by the huge delegation from her home state of California.


Robert Novak

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

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