Robert Novak

As this column reported a week ago, Gramm apologized to his old friend and political ally John McCain for embarrassing his candidacy, and McCain told him not to worry about it. Shortly thereafter, Gramm resigned rather than become an attack target for having called America "a nation of whiners" whose recession is "mental."

The same McCain strategists who felt Gramm had to go also consider his departure a major loss. McCain valued Gramm's economic and political advice.


Rep. Paul Kanjorski, a 71-year-old, 12-term congressman from a solidly Democratic Wilkes-Barre, Pa., district, may be the only incumbent House Democrat to lose in what shapes up as a disastrous 2008 for the Republicans.

Kanjorski is running behind Lou Barletta, the Republican Mayor of Hazleton, Pa., who has made a national reputation as a foe of illegal immigration. Kanjorski has a big money advantage and is waging a substantial television campaign, while Barletta has not yet been on television. But Barletta has 89 percent identification in the district, four to one positive. Kanjorski, who voted against the Iraqi troop surge, has been under fire for saying he "forced" President Bush to make the move.

A footnote: Barletta did not show up for Sen. McCain's rally Wednesday in Wilkes-Barre. No more than 600 of the 2,500 theater seats were filled for the event.

Robert Novak

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

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