WASHINGTON -- Former Majority Leader Dick Gephardt, a registered lobbyist for Turkey, failed several months ago to get his successor as top House Democrat, Speaker Nancy Pelosi, to withdraw her support from a long-pending resolution condemning alleged Turkish genocide of Armenians in 1915.
The Bush administration had urged Congress not to offend Turkey, a U.S. ally, but the measure passed the House Foreign Affairs Committee Wednesday. Pelosi has pledged House action this year on the genocide resolution that in the past was blocked by Dennis Hastert, her Republican predecessor as speaker.
In addition to Gephardt, the Turkish government also hired a top Republican lobbyist: Bob Livingston, former chairman of the House Appropriations Committee.
Prominent Democrats, while minimizing the revelation that Sandy Berger is advising Sen. Hillary Clinton on foreign affairs, stress that the disgraced former national security adviser would have no role in her presidency.
Clinton says Berger is strictly an unofficial adviser. Berger avoided a prison sentence for illegally removing classified documents from the National Archives, agreeing to a $50,000 fine, 100 hours' community service and two years' probation, along with losing his security clearance.
Berger's role in the Clinton campaign is explained by the senator's supporters as stemming from close family ties forged when he was a senior official in President Bill Clinton's White House.
Mitt Romney, who tries to come over as a picture-perfect candidate, committed his second off-the-cuff blunder at Tuesday's Republican presidential debate in Dearborn, Mich.
Asked whether he would go to Congress for authorization to take military action against Iran's nuclear facilities, the former Massachusetts governor said: "You sit down with your attorneys and [they] tell you what you have to do." He added that "we're going to let the lawyers sort out" the problem.
Two months earlier in a town hall event at Bettendorf, Iowa, Romney was asked whether any of his five sons were serving in the military and, if not, how they supported the war against terrorism. He replied: "One of the ways my sons are showing support for our nation is helping to get me elected."
Sen. Charles Schumer, the Senate Democratic campaign chairman, is pressing New Mexico Gov. Bill Richardson to give up his presidential bid and run for his state's Senate seat held by retiring Republican Sen. Pete Domenici.
Republicans hope to hold the New Mexico seat with Rep. Heather Wilson, since the most popular Democratic prospect, Rep. Tom Udall, has decided not to run. Richardson, a former congressman and Clinton administration Cabinet member, has been a popular governor and would be heavily favored for the Senate.
However, friends of Richardson predict he will resist the pressure to be the Senate candidate. Although he is given no chance to win the presidential nomination, Richardson has broken through to the top of the second-tier candidates and is a serious prospect to become Sen. Hillary Clinton's vice-presidential running mate. Party strategists see Richardson, a Mexican-American, appealing to Latino votes in four Western states that could swing the 2008 presidential election: Colorado, Arizona, Nevada and New Mexico.
LOBBYING FOR SCHIP
Newspaper and television ads in Rep. James Walsh's Syracuse, N.Y., district this week boosted the 10-term Republican congressman's support of the State Children's Health Insurance Program (SCHIP) vetoed by President Bush. The advertising, not produced by Walsh and a surprise to him, was put out by the Americans for Children's Health coalition seeking support for the expansion of government-provided health care.
The ads, purchased in districts of Walsh and other Republican congressman who broke with Bush on health care, push them to override the veto.
The coalition consists of member organizations of health care industries: drugs (Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America), doctors (American Medical Association), nursing homes (American Health Care Association), consumers (Families USA) and hospitals (Federation of American Hospitals).