Robert Novak

Obama benefits from large African-American voting blocs in Marion (Indianapolis) and Lake (Gary-East Chicago) counties, plus heavy student voting from Indiana University, Purdue and Notre Dame. Obama could win Indiana by carrying only five of 92 counties. In the barometer state of Missouri, Obama carried only five out of 114 counties, plus the city of St. Louis, in finishing first there.

A footnote: Obama broke into the Hoosier Democratic establishment Wednesday with an endorsement from the prestigious former Rep. Lee Hamilton. An ex-chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, Hamilton won national acclaim as co-chairman of the bipartisan 9-11 commission.


Former Sen. Don Nickles of Oklahoma, an ardent foe of price controls when he was Senate Republican whip, is representing merchants in their push for what would result in government regulation of credit card fees.

Nickles is lobbying for the Merchants Payments Coalition, consisting of national and state organizations of retailers. It wants a bill -- co-sponsored by liberal Democratic Rep. John Conyers of Michigan and conservative Republican Rep. Chris Cannon of Utah -- that would require card companies to negotiate with retailers on fees. Opponents say this would lead to government price-fixing. Conservative Republican Sen. John Cornyn of Texas has shown interest in the bill after being lobbied by Nickles.

During the 2003 Medicare debate, then-Sen. Nickles warned against tying doctors and hospitals to "Medicare's price controls." As a former senator in 2007, he attacked price controls on energy as "punitive" and "heavy-handed."

Robert Novak

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

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