Robert Novak

WASHINGTON -- Strategists for Mitt Romney's Republican presidential campaign were actually pleased that fast-rising Mike Huckabee moved ahead of Romney in the Rasmussen poll in Iowa, eliminating surprise if Huckabee finishes first there in the Jan. 3 caucuses.

A Huckabee victory in Iowa would kill Romney's plans to win the first two 2008 tests in Iowa and New Hampshire, followed by sweeping the board in all other primary states. Instead, the contest for the nomination could extend through the Feb. 5 primaries, with Rudy Giuliani given a chance in the high-population state primaries that day.

The consolation for Romney strategists is that a Huckabee win in Iowa would no longer be a shock that could stampede the process.

Hillary's Inevitability

Old pro Democrats who had been in awe of Sen. Hillary Clinton's perfect campaign believe she made her first serious blunder last Monday by indicating to CBS's Katie Couric that her election as president is inevitable.

When Couric inquired "how disappointed will you be" if she does not win, Clinton replied: "Well, it will be me." "Clearly," the CBS anchor persisted, "you have considered" the "possibility of losing"? "No, I haven't," said the senator. "So you never even consider the possibility?" "I don't. I don't."

A footnote: Bill Clinton, campaigning for his wife in Iowa the next day, stunned Democratic insiders when he claimed he had opposed the Iraq war "from the beginning." In fact, shortly after the U.S. invasion of Iraq, the former president declared: "I supported the president [George W. Bush] when he asked the Congress for authority to stand up against weapons of mass destruction in Iraq."


The new Japanese Prime Minister Yasuo Fukuda, a polite gentleman of the old school in contrast to his recent predecessors, on his recent visit to Washington did not urge President Bush to keep North Korea on the terrorist list as the Japanese Foreign Office recommended.

The state department's attempts to dissuade North Korea from developing nuclear arms involve possible removal of Pyongyang from the list of nations that support terror. Tokyo opposes that because of North Korea's abduction of Japanese citizens.

The Foreign Office had wanted Fukuda to raise the abduction issue with Bush. However, the president pre-empted the prime minister as their bilateral meeting began by expressing U.S. concern about the abductions.


The Internal Revenue Service (IRS) Oversight Board last Monday sent Congress an unusual report listing consequences of its failure, before leaving town for Thanksgiving, to pass legislation easing unintended impact of the alternative minimum tax (AMT) on middle-income taxpayers.

Robert Novak

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

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