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According to a Republican activist who was having his picture taken with Mr. Thompson, when the ex-senator was asked whether he would officially announce a White House bid, he said: “Keep your powder dry. I’ll be making an announcement soon.”

GOP eyes mayor

National Republicans continue to court the mayor of Hazleton, the city where a much-copied anti-illegals law was struck down last week by a federal judge, the Associated Press reports.

Rep. Tom Cole, the chairman of National Republican Congressional Committee, told reporters yesterday that he recently had dinner with Mayor Lou Barletta and is hopeful he’ll run for a U.S. House seat.

“I think he would be a tremendous candidate,” Mr. Cole said. “I think the immigration issue and his success as mayor, the bipartisan support he’s gotten from both parties, make him an unusually attractive candidate.”

Mr. Barletta said in a phone interview yesterday that he hasn’t ruled out running against Rep. Paul Kanjorski, a 12-term Democrat he unsuccessfully challenged in 2002. “I’ve been asked to consider running for Congress as well as other state offices, but right now I’m focusing on my job as mayor,” he said.

Big plans

Presidential hopeful former Sen. John Edwards, North Carolina Democrat, is making an all-capital-letters “BIG” push this morning to pressure Attorney General Alberto R. Gonzales to resign.

In an e-mail that also solicits donations, Edwards campaign manager Joe Trippi asks supporters to deliver a “simple message” to the embattled top attorney.

“Remember the Constitution that you were sworn to uphold? Remember what this country stands for? Remember the laws you were supposed to defend? If you do, then do what is right — just once — and resign.”

“But then again, maybe it has been so long since Gonzales read the Constitution that he forgot what this great document says,” Mr. Trippi adds in the note, first reported yesterday on The Washington Times’ blog Fishwrap. “Let’s remind him.”

The message also says Mr. Gonzales has “no respect for the rule of law, our rights and freedoms, or the Constitution,” and says he “helped enable torture at Abu Ghraib, Guantanamo, and illegal spying on Americans.”

Mr. Trippi said for each signature, the Edwards campaign will send Mr. Gonzales a copy of the Constitution. And “with your help, we can send Gonzales a really BIG message.” The message? If the campaign gets 25,000 signatures, “We’re going to put them at the bottom of the largest copy of the Constitution you have ever seen, and deliver it straight to Gonzales’ office at the Robert F. Kennedy Justice Department building in Washington, D.C. How big a copy of the Constitution? Big. Really big.”

Guilty plea

Al Gore’s son pleaded guilty yesterday to possessing marijuana and other drugs, but a judge said the plea could be withdrawn and the charges dropped if he successfully completes a drug-diversion program.

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