WASHINGTON -- Zalmay Khalilzad, who was announced this week as leaving as U.S. ambassador to Iraq, is the leading prospect to replace John Bolton as envoy to the United Nations.
President Bush was reported by aides as looking for someone who approximates Bolton's combination of toughness and diplomatic skill and has tentatively decided on Khalilzad. A native of Afghanistan, he has served in government posts dating back to 1985 and is the highest-ranking Muslim in the Bush administration.
A footnote: State Department sources have said Andrew Card, who on April 14 finished five years as White House chief of staff, was interested in the UN post and was a dark horse to get it. However, he never made any such desire known to the president and is not being considered for the UN.
MCCAIN'S NEW BACKER
Newly elected Senate Republican Whip Trent Lott will host a 10 a.m. coffee session for invited Republican guests Tuesday at the Phoenix Park Hotel on Capitol Hill in Washington to discuss Sen. John McCain's impending campaign for president with him and McCain.
Lott, a supply-sider and social conservative, had not been allied with McCain previously. However, in his e-mailed invitation, Lott asserted, "John and I have been friends for many years, and my respect for him is unparalleled." Tuesday's meeting with McCain, Lott said, will "begin to build an organization that focuses not on our differences, but on our shared goals for peace and prosperity for this nation."
A footnote: New York investment banker Ken Langone is hosting a fund-raising cocktail reception for former New York Mayor Rudolph W. Giuliani's prospective presidential campaign the evening of Dec. 19 at the Marriott Marquis Hotel ballroom in Manhattan. The price: $2,100 per person and $4,200 per couple.
Bush presidential adviser Karl Rove disclosed during a Washington speaking engagement last week that he will not return to his lifetime profession as a political consultant when he leaves the White House.
Rove was taking questions at a dinner sponsored by Hillsdale (Mich.) College when asked about computerized gerrymandering of congressional districts. Cautioning against "fancy" redistricting, he added: "I say this as a former political consultant who liked competitive races when I was in the business, but won't be returning to the business."
Starting the firm of Karl Rove and Co. in Austin, Texas, in 1981 at age 30, he began advising Gov. Bill Clements and Rep. Phil Gramm. He worked hundreds of races before coming to Washington as President George W. Bush's political aide.
PAPAL TO PRESIDENT