Robert Novak

WASHINGTON -- Fred Thompson's decision to announce his presidential candidacy with a video was suggested by Newt Gingrich, who is considered a possible contender himself.

Former House Speaker Gingrich has indicated he will run only if Thompson does not or his late-starting campaign crashes and burns. Actor-politician Thompson plans to follow the model of Democrat Hillary Clinton by launching his campaign with a video, followed by a fly-around to several cities.

Gingrich has expressed contempt for becoming one of many announced Republican candidates at crowded debates. Thompson has decided to be one of many at the Sept. 27 debate at Baltimore's Morgan State University.


A new name, with no national reputation, has entered conversations among Democrats contemplating a running mate for Sen. Hillary Clinton if she is nominated for president: newly elected Ohio Gov. Ted Strickland.

Strickland, age 66, took advantage of the Republican implosion in Ohio to easily win election as governor after five terms in Congress, during which he attracted little attention. He evokes interest for a Clinton ticket as a moderate liberal who has a clean record and comes from a closely contested swing state that decided the 2004 presidential election.

Strickland would be the first professional psychologist on a national ticket. A Methodist minister, he earned a Ph.D. in psychology before becoming a prison psychologist and then a psychology college professor. Strickland ran for Congress unsuccessfully in 1976, 1978 and 1980 before winning in 1992.


George W. Bush collected around $1 million for Republican Sen. Norm Coleman's endangered re-election campaign in Minnesota Tuesday, but that will be the last the state sees of the unpopular president this election cycle. Bush attended a fund-raiser at the home of hearing-aid manufacturer William Austin in suburban Eden Prairie, Minn.

Anti-war protesters demonstrated in sight of the Austin home, and Democratic spokesmen expressed hope Bush would visit Minnesota often to campaign for Coleman. However, the GOP's rule of thumb is that it is all right for the president to collect money for embattled candidates in 2007 but not to campaign for them in 2008.

After his Minnesota visit, Bush went on to raise money for two other Republican incumbents facing serious Democratic challenges: Sen. Pete Domenici in New Mexico and Rep. Dave Reichert of Washington State (who won a second term in 2006 with 51.3 percent of the vote).


Illinois Republicans say Former House Speaker J. Dennis Hastert has decided to resign from Congress Nov. 6 rather than finish out his term, even though that step could enhance Democratic prospects of picking up his seat.

Speculation is that Democratic Gov. Rod Blagojevich may set the special election date to coincide with the Feb. 5 presidential primary. The candidacy of Illinois' Sen. Barack Obama presumably would swell the number of Democratic voters.

But some Republicans believe Hastert's early departure could aid the candidacy of his probable chosen successor: Jim Oberweis, a wealthy businessmen and unsuccessful aspirant for statewide office. Hastert is known to oppose State Sen. Chris Lauzen, who long has had his eye on the seat.


Two major political contributors to President George W. Bush, who later named them as U.S. ambassadors, were principal hosts at a $2,300-a-ticket reception last Sunday in the chic resort of Nantucket, Mass., for Republican presidential candidate Rudy Giuliani.

Peter Terpeluk, a Washington lobbyist who became ambassador to Luxembourg, is Giuliani's national finance chairman. Richard J. Egan, a Massachusetts industrialist who was ambassador to Ireland, is the former New York mayor's state finance chairman.

A third major co-host was former Massachusetts Gov. Paul Cellucci, who, instead of joining the state's Republican leaders backing former Gov. Mitt Romney, is Giuliani's Massachusetts political chairman. On the host committee was former General Electric CEO Jack Welch. The event was held at the home of Giuliani's lecture agent, Bernie Swain.

Robert Novak

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

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