Robert Novak

WASHINGTON -- Rudy Giuliani scored a hit with conservative activists by getting ahead of his Republican presidential competitors in blasting Sen. Hillary Clinton for not denouncing's attack on Gen. David Petraeus.

Giuliani caught the spirit of Republican rage over the left-wing's full-page ad in The New York Times. On the day Petraeus presented his report on Iraq, the ad demeaned him as "General Betray Us." Giuliani asked: "Who should America listen to -- a decorated soldier's commitment to defending America, or Hillary Clinton's commitment to defending"

Washington-based conservatives this week voiced approval that Giuliani was hitting Clinton instead of other Republican presidential hopefuls.


Republican campaign donors who have been bombarded for two years with appeals for funds from Republican presidential candidates on Thursday received their first direct mail plea from Fred Thompson, who asked for a contribution ranging from $35 to $2,300.

Thompson's personalized letter asserts that "as long as our troops in Iraq and Afghanistan have hope and optimism, we should too" but does not take a position on President Bush's war policy. Rejecting Bush's stand on immigration, Thompson says: "We cannot effectively solve our problem with legal immigration until our borders are secured." The letter quotes Ronald Reagan but does not mention George W. Bush.

A footnote: Thompson's bid for the evangelical right suffered a setback Wednesday when social conservative leader James Dobson said he could not support Thompson, contending he has "no passion, no zeal." Thompson's agents encountered a cool reception at a gathering of conservatives this week who were high on Rudy Giuliani.


Rep. Ray LaHood, in his seventh and last term as a Republican House member, is working with his fellow Illinoisan, House Democratic Caucus Chairman Rahm Emanuel, to seek Republican votes to override an expected veto by President Bush of an expanded State Children's Health Insurance Program (SCHIP).

While LaHood was chief of staff for then House Minority Leader Bob Michel before replacing him from his Peoria district in the 1994 election, he was a rare GOP holdout that year who did not sign the Contract with America.

LaHood has told colleagues he would be willing to lead a GOP House delegation to the White House after the SCHIP bill passes next week to urge the president not to veto it. There is no sign Bush would be open to such a visit.


Robert Novak

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

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