Robert Novak

WASHINGTON -- Anticipating that Sen. Hillary Clinton will clinch the Democratic presidential nomination, some supporters are beginning to argue against her principal rival -- Sen. Barack Obama -- for vice president.

They maintain that Obama provides no general election help for Clinton. As an African-American from Illinois, Obama represents an ethnic group and a state already solidly in the Democratic column.

This school of thought advocates a Southerner as Clinton's running mate. The last time Democrats won a national election without a Southerner on the ticket was 1944. Prominent Democrats from the South are in short supply today. The leading prospect: former Virginia Gov. Mark Warner.

FRED THOMPSON'S DEBUT

Key advisers in Fred Thompson's campaign for the Republican presidential candidacy believe he must begin with a superior performance in his first debate in order to generate funds.

Although the actor-politician ranks high in the polls, his platform performance as a non-candidate has been so-so. Consequently, advisers say it is essential that he come over as dynamic in his debate debut. That conceivably could be at the University of New Hampshire debate Sept. 5 but more likely will come at Morgan State University in Baltimore Sept. 27.

That performance may decide the course of major Republican contributors, including donors to Sen. John McCain's fading campaign. Many givers are inclined to Thompson but want to see how he performs under pressure in a debate.

CALIFORNIA SPLIT

The 19 Republicans on California's House delegation are split on the question of earmarks and accusations of ethical transgressions.

The bitter division has produced harsh words between 15-term Rep. Jerry Lewis, the ranking Republican on the House Appropriations Committee and a leading earmarks defender, and second-term Rep. John Campbell, an anti-earmarks reformer. Campbell no longer attends caucuses of the California House Republicans because they become pep rallies for Lewis, whose personal transactions are under Justice Department scrutiny.

In addition to Lewis, California Republicans whose ethics have been challenged include Reps. Gary Miller and Ken Calvert. Lewis and his colleagues have spread the word back in California that Campbell stands alone without support from colleagues. In fact, other reformers in the delegation include Reps. Kevin McCarthy, Devin Nunes and Darrell Issa, with others uneasy about ethical issues among their colleagues.

MITT'S APPEAL

"Why haven't you joined Team Mitt yet?" asked a July 31 mailing sent to contributors of Mitt Romney's successful 2002 campaign for governor of Massachusetts who have not yet given money to his presidential candidacy.


Robert Novak

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

 
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