WASHINGTON, D.C. -- Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney in a recent secret Washington meeting with national political operatives signaled he probably will forego seeking re-election in 2006 in order to pursue the 2008 Republican presidential nomination.
Romney did not flatly reveal his future intentions, according to sources who were present. But he did say a presidential race would be difficult if he were concentrating on a 2006 campaign for governor and were still in that office in 2007-08.
The early evening meeting was held at the Caucus Room, a Washington restaurant popular with politicians and lobbyists. It was put together by Ron Kaufman, longtime Massachusetts member of the Republican National Committee and an intimate adviser of the senior George Bush. Political operatives attending were not committed to a possible Romney candidacy, but were asked to participate in a private discussion of the current political climate.
The renowned patience of Chairman Richard Lugar was tried beyond the breaking point last week by his Democratic colleagues on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee.
Lugar was back home in Indiana when he received word from his staff that the Democratic staff was requesting a large bundle of internal State Department documents concerning Under Secretary of State John Bolton, in connection with his nomination to be U.S. ambassador to the United Nations. Lugar, normally conciliatory toward the committee's ranking Democrat, Sen. Joseph Biden, turned him down flat this time.
A footnote: Fellow Republican senators think the Bolton nomination is a test for Lugar. He needs a unanimous vote of the Foreign Relations Committee's 10 Republicans to overcome solid Democratic opposition.
Democratic National Committee (DNC) fund raising under the chairmanship of Howard Dean shows a disappointing $16.7 million raised in the first quarter of 2005, compared with $34 million reported by the Republicans.
That tends to confirm dire predictions by old-line Democratic fund-raisers of a fall-off in money if Dean became chairman. He had promised to bring in heavy individual contributions, as he did in his 2004 campaign for president. But the DNC in the first quarter received only $13 million from individuals, compared to $31 million for the Republican National Committee (RNC).
A footnote: A recent DNC fund-raising appeal promised to send field workers to North Carolina, which does not have a major statewide election until 2008.
Rep. Jim Kolbe, an 11-term Republican congressman and one of the Appropriations Committee's powerful "cardinals," faces another challenge in his Tucson, Ariz., district from the same opponent who gave him a scare last year.
Former Arizona State Sen. Randy Graf collected a surprising 43 percent of the vote by concentrating on Kolbe's more liberal stance on immigration. Kolbe had to spend nearly $1 million -- more than 10 times as much as Graf.
Graf announced his second-try candidacy on April 28. Senate testimony by David Aguilar, head of the U.S. Border Patrol, on that day provided Graf with an opening. Aguilar said his agency cannot effectively patrol the U.S.-Mexican border in Arizona because a law drawn up by Kolbe forbids checkpoints on roads in his state. Kolbe responded four days later by criticizing the Border Patrol: "They are disregarding the law."
The conservative Club for Growth, which has funded campaigns against a few less-than-conservative incumbents in Congress, is planning to develop a new scorecard to evaluate lawmakers.
This step is being contemplated by former Rep. Pat Toomey of Pennsylvania, the new Club for Growth president, because he disagreed with some of the organization's endorsements in the past.
Toomey in particular questioned the endorsement of Republican Rep. Rob Simmons of Connecticut, whose lifetime voting is rated at 55 percent by the American Conservative Union. Simmons has ridiculed personal Social Security accounts, voted for the prescription drug bill and most recently opposed the Republican budget. Toomey wants to score votes of all kinds, including procedures and amendments.