Robert Novak

The possible return of political consultant Mike Murphy to help Sen. John McCain's campaign is definitely off, with the Republican presidential candidate's aides putting out word that Murphy will not be back. He has signed with NBC as a campaign commentator.

McCain was interested in returning Murphy, a key strategist in his 2000 presidential campaign. But it was determined that Murphy would cause too much friction within McCain's staff.

Murphy was not involved in the battle for this year's Republican presidential campaign. He had been close to both McCain and former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney, and did not want to choose between them.

Barney's Retreat

The House Republican minority scored a rare victory over the usually masterful Rep. Barney Frank, when he pulled from the House floor Wednesday a bill to protect as a "scenic wilderness" site the Taunton River at urban Fall River, Mass., in his district.

Such measures are routinely approved when sponsored by a powerful committee chairman such as Frank. However, Republicans launched a campaign contending that the bill was intended to block a liquefied natural gas terminal opposed by Frank. A surprised Frank indicated he was not prepared for a floor fight.

"It'll come back," Frank was quoted by Congress Daily. Congressional sources later said Frank might try again this coming week, with a possibility that the LNP terminal would be carved out and not included in the protected scenic area.

Robert Novak

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

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