- The Washington Times - Wednesday, December 19, 2001

Armey's prediction
House Republican Leader Dick Armey said yesterday he expects Senate Majority Leader Tom Daschle to challenge President Bush for the White House in the 2004 election.
Mr. Armey quickly added, however, he does not see the South Dakota Democrat, who has battled Mr. Bush on a number of domestic fronts on Capitol Hill including taxes, health care, energy and the environment to pose much of a threat to the Republican president.
"My own view is that if you approach most Republicans who I associate with, with the proposition Senator Daschle is a threat to the president's re-election, most of them would just give you a big yawn," Mr. Armey told reporters.
The Texas Republican made the comments at a weekly news conference and as congressional Republicans and the White House sought to cut an elusive deal with Mr. Daschle and other Democrats on a stimulus package to help pull the economy out of a recession, Reuters reports.
"Now it seems to me that you have both Senator Daschle and [House Democratic] Leader [Richard A.] Gephardt [of Missouri] clearly reviewing their desire to be the next president," Mr. Armey said.
"My experience with people in politics is once they commit to a race, they can't wait to get the race started," Mr. Armey said. "And so you might see now a natural tendency to want to be contesting with the current president.
"My own view is, if he has not already [begun] the political confrontation with this president, Senator Daschle in particular will be doing that next year," Mr. Armey said.
Mr. Daschle has said he will make a decision on a possible White House bid after the 2002 congressional elections.

Zell's reminder
"There are plenty of indications that most likely the administration is going to ramp this stuff up after the holidays," a senior GOP leadership aide says of Democratic stalling on President Bush's nominees, judicial and otherwise.
Stephen F. Hayes, writing in the Weekly Standard, says: "When they do, they may get some help from Georgia Democrat Zell Miller, who says he's fed up with the games his party is playing."
Says Mr. Miller: "Not even having the decency to give his appointees a straight up-or-down vote is a shabby and scandalous way to treat a president of the United States. And I'll just tell you that it gives me pause, not to mention some shame, that I find myself a part of the caucus responsible for such conduct."
The Weekly Standard writer comments: "Still, if nothing else, Miller's comments offer a reminder to Democrats like [Senate Majority Leader Tom] Daschle, [Judiciary Committee Chairman Patrick J.] Leahy and [Connecticut Sen.] Christopher Dodd that their party remains in the majority by just one vote."

Pelosi and Condit
"While some high-profile California Democrats have abandoned Rep. Gary A. Condit in his quest for political survival, at least one appears to be sticking by him: Rep. Nancy Pelosi of San Francisco," the Los Angeles Times reports.
"Pelosi who next month becomes minority whip, the party's second-highest House post issued a brief statement Monday asserting that she endorsed Condit for re-election in his Central Valley district 'a long time ago,'" reporter Nick Anderson writes.
"While a Pelosi spokesman declined to elaborate on the statement, it seemed to indicate that she would not back away from Condit despite the controversy that has enveloped the 12-year House veteran about his ties to intern Chandra Levy, who has been missing since the spring."
The reporter added: "Pelosi's position on Condit matters for two reasons: She is the highest-ranking House Democrat to endorse him for re-election, and she is considered one of the House's most prominent feminists."

Late announcement
The White House said yesterday that officials should have acted earlier to disclose publicly that President Bush had been treated for four skin lesions.
Mr. Bush underwent a procedure Friday to remove the skin lesions on his face, two of which were precancerous, but it was not until Monday that the White House announced the president had been treated.
"I do think it's fair to say that the president thinks this could have been done sooner rather than when it went out yesterday afternoon," said White House spokesman Ari Fleischer, who discussed the issue with Mr. Bush yesterday morning, Reuters reports.
The lesions, found on Mr. Bush's cheeks, forehead and temple, were removed with liquid nitrogen Friday in the White House physician's office, Mr. Fleischer said Monday in response to reporters' questions.

GOP wins in S.C.
A South Carolina state senator, who styled himself a political understudy to the late Rep. Floyd D. Spence, handily beat his Democratic opponent in a special election yesterday to succeed the congressman.
Republican Joe Wilson received 40,289 votes, or 73 percent, to political newcomer Brent Weaver's 14,088 votes, or 26 percent, the Associated Press reported last night.
Mr. Wilson is a former campaign worker and aide to Mr. Spence, who died in August. He also worked for Republican Sen. Strom Thurmond.
Mr. Spence had held the seat in the state's conservative 2nd District since 1971. He became chairman of the House Armed Services Committee when the Republicans took control of the House in 1995, but he had to give it up in January because of rules that limited chairmanships to six years.

Hypothetical fears
"While Americans are distressed at the shocks they have experienced, and some have been traumatized by the losses they have suffered directly, there is a palpable toughening of the spirit," Wall Street Journal columnist George Melloan writes.
"It is displayed not only in the American flags now seen everywhere, but also in a mounting intolerance of the scare-mongering that was such a nuisance in the 1990s," Mr. Melloan said.
"The 'global warming' scare, a United Nations effort that employed phony science in an effort to shake down rich nations, has been laughed off the news pages. Anti-globalization hoodlums trashed a police station in Brussels last week, but there is less public tolerance of their efforts to shut down vital world trade.
"It's not quite so easy as before to be jolly in the holiday season of 2001. But then it is not quite so easy to sell hypothetical fears to a nation toughened by a real attack."

Ray for Senate?
"The list of potential GOP opponents to embattled New Jersey Democrat Sen. Robert Torricelli continues to grow," United Press International reports in its "Capital Comment" column.
"Another new name on the list is U.S. Independent Counsel Robert Ray, now wrapping up the last of his responsibilities as the nation's lead investigator of the Clinton White House. A well-placed source says that, at this point, Ray is currently offering no comment on the speculation, neither confirming nor denying the rumors. In Washington, this kind of non-denial denial usually falls into the 'where there's smoke, there's fire' category," UPI said.

Deep wallet
"[Massachusetts] Democratic gubernatorial candidate Steve Grossman, the wealthy Newton businessman and former national party chairman, demonstrated recently that he's serious about using his own money in the race," the Boston Globe reports.
"Grossman transferred $1 million out of his personal accounts into his campaign war chest. He now has about a $2 million balance in the campaign account."

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