Robert Novak

WASHINGTON, D.C. -- House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and House Republican Leader John Boehner are working behind the scenes to attempt rare bipartisan cooperation on an economic stimulus package.

Pelosi has urged Democratic House members not to load the bill with so much spending that it will attract intense Republican opposition. Boehner has advised Republicans not to criticize the Democratic proposals. The cooperation by Pelosi reflects desire to actually pass a bill in view of public opinion polls that show voter approval of Congress even lower than President George W. Bush's ratings. Pelosi has been out front on the issue, publicly scheduling meetings with Boehner and Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke.

ROMNEY IN FLORIDA

Florida's top two Republicans, Gov. Charles Crist and Sen. Mel Martinez, have not endorsed anybody in the state's key Republican presidential primary Jan. 29 but are clearly negative about Mitt Romney.

Martinez, who co-sponsored President Bush's ill-fated immigration reform bill, resents Romney's hard line on illegal immigration. Former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush's support for Romney does not help him with Crist, Bush's unfriendly successor.

The latest Rasmussen poll shows a virtual four-way tie in Florida between Romney, Sen. John McCain, Rudy Giuliani and Mike Huckabee, with Fred Thompson not far behind. Florida could give the winner a leg up in the Super Tuesday primaries on Feb. 5 a week later.

DOOLITTLE DID IT

Republican leaders were cheered that they probably saved at least one House seat from a Democratic deluge this year when scandal-scarred Rep. John Doolittle finally succumbed to their pleas that he not seek a 10th term from his Northern California district.

Doolittle, once a member of the party's leadership as secretary of the House Republican Conference, has been linked to imprisoned lobbyist Jack Abramoff. He nearly lost his seat in 2006 after easy re-elections for the previous decade. His political condition worsened last April, when the FBI raided his Northern Virginia home, and he and his staff have been brought in for questioning by federal subpoenas.

Doolittle's insistence on running again this year nearly guaranteed a Democratic takeover of the seat. Any other Republican would be favored to win there.

TOURING CONGRESSMEN

Both House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer and House Minority Whip Roy Blunt, leading a bipartisan congressional delegation to Asia during the year-end recess, were favorably impressed by Kevin Rudd, the new Labor Party prime minister of Australia.


Robert Novak

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

 
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