Sources close to Johnson say he will not decide his schedule until he is back in the Senate, and there is no firm schedule yet for that. Johnson has not been seen publicly since suffering a brain hemorrhage last Dec. 13, but his staff has been raising funds for his re-election campaign in South Dakota. His campaign has $1.75 million cash on hand.
The $1,000-to-$2,300-a-ticket reception will be held at the home of Johnson's fellow South Dakotan, former Senate Majority Leader Tom Daschle, and his wife, transportation industry lobbyist Linda Daschle, on Foxhall Road millionaire's row in Washington. It has been speculated that if Johnson cannot run, Daschle could attempt a political comeback.
Contrary to reports that Newt Gingrich lost control in one of his temper tantrums at a breakfast last Monday sponsored by The American Spectator magazine, the former House speaker was variously described as "grouchy," "cool" and "arrogant" in assailing his critics.
Gingrich made clear he would not be seen anytime soon engaging in multi-candidate debates with opponents for the presidency, disdaining them, as he said Charles DeGaulle once labeled his competitors, as "pygmies." But he did not rule out an eventual candidacy.
A footnote: Republican leaders report that the most enthusiasm among grassroots activists is for Gingrich and libertarian Rep. Ron Paul.