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 MoveOn.org's attack on Gen. David Petraeus.

Giuliani caught the spirit of Republican rage over the left-wing MoveOn.org'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 MoveOn.org?"

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

DOLLARS FOR FRED

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.

GOP DISSENTER

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.

DEMOCRAT FOR HALEY

A prominent Democrat attended the Washington fundraising reception in the downtown Sofitel hotel last week for Mississippi Republican Gov. Haley Barbour's re-election campaign: super-lobbyist Tommy Boggs.

Barbour, a former chairman of the Republican National Committee and White House political aide, is a national figure in the GOP. Boggs, both of whose parents were Democratic House members from Louisiana, is a major contributor and fundraiser for his party.

Barbour and Boggs were fellow capital lobbyists before Barbour returned to Mississippi. They were founding partners in the Caucus Room, a Washington steakhouse favored by political insiders.

DOWNGRADING DETROIT

The Health and Human Services (HHS) Department raised the ire of Detroit by advising its employees by e-mail last month in a "HHS Energy News Report" to buy cost-efficient motor vehicles. It recommended 12 models -- not one made by a U.S. auto manufacturer.

In a bipartisan letter to HHS Secretary Mike Leavitt, all 15 of Michigan's House members protested. "You may be interested to know that U.S. auto manufacturers sell a wide range of fuel efficient, clean fuel cars, SUVs and trucks," they told Leavitt. "Consumers can choose from a wide variety of models made by American auto companies that get over 30 miles per gallon."

The memo, calling for "a smart choice when selecting a vehicle to drive," urged purchases of smaller sedans instead of sport utility vehicles (SUVs), which are the top product of American companies.


Robert Novak

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

 
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