Inside Report: Bloomberg for President?
By Robert Novak
BLOOMBERG FOR PRESIDENT?
WASHINGTON -- Democrats close to Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton take
seriously a possible third-party presidential candidacy in 2008 by
Michael Bloomberg despite the mayor of New York's disavowal of interest.
One prominent investment banker with political connections predicts
that Bloomberg will dispose of his multibillion-dollar business
interests before his term as mayor ends a year before the presidential
election. While expected to continue his heavy philanthropy, he will
have millions to spare for a presidential campaign.
A footnote: Unity08, the third-party movement established by ex-Jimmy
Carter aides Hamilton Jordan and Gerald Rafshoon, is reported by
political insiders to be seeking financial aid from Bloomberg. But if
the mayor is going to contribute to such a cause, it likely would be
on behalf of his own candidacy.
INVITING MCCAIN OUT
Sen. John McCain canceled his scheduled appearance for Republican
Brian Bilbray, who won Tuesday's special congressional election in San
Diego to replace the disgraced Duke Cunningham, not out of pique but
because the National Republican Congressional Committee (NRCC)
suggested it would be a good idea.
McCain canceled his visit after Bilbray repeatedly attacked the
Kennedy-McCain immigration "amnesty" bill. The Bilbray campaign did
not ask McCain to cancel, and the senator had planned to fulfill his
commitment. However, the NRCC suggested McCain's presence would not be
helpful in a campaign where Bilbray was stressing opposition to
A footnote: Republican National Chairman Ken Mehlman is credited with
masterminding operations that retained the congressional seat.
Bush administration officials are delighted to hear that Wendy
Paulson, the liberal Democratic wife of Treasury Secretary-designate
Henry Paulson, intends to remain in their upper West Side luxury
apartment in Manhattan without moving to Washington.
Since 1997, Wendy Paulson has contributed $32,800 to Democrats,
compared with $10,500 to Republicans ($1,000 to Sen. John McCain for
his 2000 presidential run and the rest to liberal Republicans). Her
contributions include $6,000 to Sen. Hillary Clinton and $5,000 to
HILLPAC (Clinton's political action committee).
Republicans fear that if Mrs. Paulson is much in evidence at events in
the capital, she would be subject to questions from reporters that
might result in embarrassing answers.
Rep. John Spratt of South Carolina, ranking Democrat on the House
Budget Committee, has followed orders from House Minority Leader Nancy
Pelosi to abandon his original proposal for a limited presidential
Spratt's proposal has been adopted by Republican Rep. Paul Ryan of
Wisconsin as a remedy for earmarked funds inserted by members of
Congress. The plan would empower the president to veto individual
spending items, subject to mandatory up-or-down votes in both the
House and Senate. The House Budget Committee will consider the bill
Pelosi has decreed blanket Democratic opposition to this and any other
Republican budget reform, and Spratt went along. That means Republican
members of the Appropriations Committee, who oppose any line-item
veto, could join with Democrats to defeat Ryan's proposal when it
reaches the House floor.
Lobbyists were eager last Thursday to attend the annual fund-raiser
for Rep. Ralph Regula in the belief he might be succeeding Rep. Jerry
Lewis of California as House Appropriations Committee chairman.
The early evening reception ($1,000 for individuals, $2,500 for
political action committees) was held at the Washington mansion of
lobbyist Wayne Berman, as it is every year. It was a magnet for
lobbyists this year because of conflict-of-interest allegations
against Lewis, including new charges in a report last Wednesday by
NBC's investigative unit.
A footnote: The competing event Thursday was sponsored by Republican
operatives Ed Gillespie and Mary Matalin on behalf of Sen. George
Allen, a presidential prospect who faces an unexpectedly tough
re-election battle in Virginia, probably against Democrat James Webb
(President Ronald Reagan's secretary of the Navy). A reception at
Matalin's home in Alexandria, Va., was followed by a $5,000-a-plate
dinner at the nearby Morrison House Hotel.
Copyright 2006 Creators Syndicate