WASHINGTON -- Super-lobbyist Ed Gillespie has been given his own office in the West Wing of the White House to manage President Bush's Supreme Court confirmation battle. That raised speculation Gillespie could be chief of staff for the end of the Bush presidency.
Republican lobbyists Ken Duberstein and Tom Korologos were given judicial confirmation chores in years past without moving permanently into the West Wing. Insiders believe Gillespie, a protege of Bush political adviser Karl Rove, is being groomed to replace Andrew Card as chief of staff for Bush's last two years as president.
Less than a decade ago, Gillespie was a mere aide to then House Majority Leader Dick Armey. He left to become a lobbyist and has been called on by Rove for political tasks: running Elizabeth Dole's 2002 campaign for the U.S. Senate from North Carolina, Republican National Committee chairman in 2003-2004 and now the judicial confirmation assignment.
Supporters of John Bolton's confirmation as U.S. ambassador to the United Nations want to make one last try to get 60 senators to break the filibuster instead of President Bush renominating Bolton during the next congressional recess to avoid Senate confirmation.
Contrary to published reports, Bolton has not personally urged a recess appointment. Because such an appointee would have to leave office when this Congress adjourns, Bolton would have little more than 13 months in office.
Hopes for 60 cloture votes hinge on settling the dispute over intelligence documents demanded by Bolton's critics. While progress has been made, Democratic Sen. Chris Dodd remains uncompromising in leading opposition against Bolton.
Democratic National Chairman Howard Dean has drastically lowered his profile in the last three weeks, but that has not stopped complaints about him from prominent Democrats.
In touring Republican red states carried by George W. Bush, Dean was snubbed June 30 when he went to New Orleans. None of Louisiana's top Democrats -- Gov. Kathleen Blanco, Lt. Gov. Mitch Landrieu and State Democratic Chairman Jim Bernhard -- showed up.
Inside party circles, Dean is a principal topic of conversation -- not all of it, but most of it, unfavorable.
VETOING STEM CELLS
Republican strategists in Congress and the White House are contemplating a fast track for the embryonic stem cell research bill: completing congressional passage with Senate action, rushing it to the White House for President Bush's veto and then back to the House for a vote to sustain the veto -- all within 24 hours.
The idea would be to expedite an unpopular act and get it over with. The House-passed stem cell bill, sponsored by Republican Rep. Mike Castle of Delaware and opposed by Bush, may pick up 70 votes in the Senate.
A footnote: Some Republican strategists figure the president's veto of the Castle bill will enable Bush politically to nominate a moderate to the Supreme Court, but conservatives say that is nonsense.
George W. Bush, who dislikes black-tie "state" dinners so much that he hosted only four in his first term, has reluctantly scheduled his first two 2005 formal dinners for later in the year. That still leaves President Bush hosting fewer such occasions than any of his predecessors in the modern era.
A black-tie event for India Prime Minister Manmohan Singh on Monday, July 18 will be Bush's first formal event since Oct. 6, 2003, but it will labeled only as an "official" dinner because the guest is not a head of state. Japanese Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi will be the guest for what so far has been designated a "social" dinner, one further step down in formality with the details still unclear. Bush has held full-scale "state" dinners for the presidents of the Philippines, Poland, Mexico and Kenya.
A footnote: Bush prefers to entertain foreign visitors at his Crawford, Texas, ranch. Colombia President Alvaro Uribe will be there Aug. 3, requesting more money for the war against narco-guerrillas.