Inside Report: Bush in '04

Posted: Jun 29, 2002 12:00 AM
WASHINGTON -- President Bush's 2004 re-election headquarters will be in Washington, contrary to earlier speculation that retiring Counselor Karen Hughes would run his campaign from Texas when she returns to her Austin home in July. The campaign is to be handled by Ken Mehlman, who now heads the White House political affairs office, and Jack Oliver, currently deputy chairman of the Republican National Committee. Strategic direction in 2004 will come, as in 2000, from senior adviser Karl Rove. That arrangement, however, does not eliminate Hughes. As the most influential Bush adviser, she is expected to be aboard the presidential campaign plane beginning in the second half of 2004. DOLE FOR TYCO Debt-ridden, scandal-stained Tyco International has quietly hired Robert J. Dole, the former Senate majority leader and 1996 Republican presidential nominee, as a Washington lobbyist. Bob Dole Enterprises on June 20 registered with the federal government to lobby for Tyco. JoAnne Coe, secretary of the Senate when Dole was majority leader, was listed as the principal contact. The "specific lobbying issues" stated in the registration are "general corporate tax issues." Actually, the image of the Bermuda-based, multi-purpose corporation needs refurbishing in official Washington. The Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) and the Manhattan district attorney are investigating whether Tyco's corporate funds were used to improperly enrich its executives, especially former CEO Dennis Kozlowski. WAITING FOR BYRD The fate of nuclear power in the United States may be in the hands of Sen. Robert Byrd of West Virginia, the Senate's president pro tem and longest-serving Democrat, in his role as keeper of the Senate's traditions. The proposed nuclear waste repository at Yucca Mountain in Nevada will be killed unless the Senate acts by July 27. The 1982 bill authorizing Yucca specified that any senator could bring up the issue to be considered under limited debate. That violates the tradition that only the majority leader can bring up legislation. Majority Leader Tom Daschle has promised his deputy, Majority Whip Harry Reid of Nevada, that he will not bring up the matter. While a substantial Senate majority has supported Yucca in the past, it will die if Daschle and Reid mobilize Democratic party-line support to keep the issue from being considered. The extent of Democratic support hinges on whether Byrd follows the 1982 statute or Senate tradition. ABSENT PATAKI New York Gov. George Pataki was snubbed by fellow Republican governors Monday when he did not appear at a Republican Governors Association (RGA) fund-raiser in Manhattan. Pataki was at a family occasion and did miss the event, which raised money for this year's re-election campaigns by Republican governors (including Pataki). The RGA's two top officers -- Govs. John Rowland of Connecticut and Bill Owens of Colorado -- were there at Pataki's invitation, but did not mention him when he failed to appear. That irritated New York GOP functionaries, whose state has helped the RGA raise $1 million in the last 30 days. A footnote: Conservative activist Grover Norquist has asked Republican governors to leave the bipartisan National Governors Association because it takes tax dollars and lobbies against welfare reform. So far, only three out of 28 GOP governors have supported Norquist. More are expected, however, after Idaho's Gov. Dirk Kempthorne hosts the National Governor's Conference in Boise July 13-16. FRIGHTENING BANKERS The surprise announcement of retirement from Congress by veteran Democratic Rep. John LaFalce of New York led Republican fund-raisers to warn bankers about his successor as the top House Democrat monitoring them: Rep. Barney Frank of Massachusetts. LaFalce is highly regarded by bankers who have contributed to him as ranking Democrat on the House Financial Services Committee (successor to the Banking Committee). Republican operatives warn that Frank, one of the House's strongest liberals, will become an anti-banking chairman at Financial Services if Democrats win control of the House. Consequently, they advise bankers to cancel all contributions to Democratic candidates. A footnote: Congressional redistricting puts LaFalce in the same upstate New York district as Democratic Rep. Louise Slaughter. LaFalce was favored but did not relish running against a national women's campaign.