Thumbs Up for '08 For the Kerry Clan
With Republicans scrounging around for an able successor to President Bush in the 2008 election, Washington's focus is fast turning to an escalating battle on the Democratic side between front-runner Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton and 2004 nominee Sen. John Kerry . Whispers learns that Kerry is not just testing the waters: He's running . "His family wants him to run again," says one pal. Proof he's in: Kerry has added names to his E-mail list of 3 million, kept johnkerry.com alive and kicking, raised boatloads of cash for friendly Democrats, and moved to seize control of hot-button issues like kids' healthcare, the environment, and support for military families. The Kerry clan is also pushing the Clinton electability issue. "Donors and organized labor love Bill Clinton, " says one Kerry friend. "But they're telling everyone they're terrified that she'd get stomped."
Friends of Hillary, meanwhile, are touting her front-runner status and joining in the chorus of Democrats who think Kerry should crawl under a rock and go away. "He had his chance," mutters a Clinton ally. "It's over."
The bottom line: Pollster John Zogby says Clinton's out front in part because of her recent shift to the middle on partisan issues. That has prompted some haters to take a second look. "She can take the 'somewhat unfavorables,'" Zogby says, "and turn them into 'somewhat favorables.'"
Those Sunday Morning TV Wars
In TV, it's all about attracting the 25-to-54 age bracket, and new Nielsen ratings provided to Whispers show that Fox News Sunday and host Chris Wallace own that crowd, with a median viewership age of 52. Face the Nation comes in at 57; This Week draws a median age of 58; Meet the Press gets the oldest crowd, at 60.
The Man Who Paddled the Prez
During his Social Security sales trip to Texas last week, President Bush ran into history buff Noah McCullough backstage. McCullough, the 10-year-old spokesman for the pro-Social Security reform group Progress for America, is penning a book of presidential trivia and revealed former President George H. W. Bush 's interesting entry. "He's one of the only people in America who has spanked the sitting president of the United States."
Now They're Trying To Gag Lawmakers
It's one thing for the Bush team to keep foes out of presidential rallies, but stifling speeches by House and Senate members? Some on the Hill are huffing over a "gag order" demand from the Small Business Administration that blocked lawmakers from making political statements during last week's SBA Expo. But it's not as bad as it looks. Republicans had to sign the policy, too--so there. The rule was prompted last year when a Republican used his speech to push President Bush 's re-election, ruffling the feathers of Democratic speakers.
A Little Breakfast Nosh, a Little News
Only in Washington do you have to do something 200 times in a row to be noticed. But taking notice, they are, of David Cook , bureau chief of the Christian Science Monitor . Cook, who has taken over as host of the Monitor 's long-running series of newsmaker breakfasts from Godfrey Sperling , passed his 200 mark when Education Secretary Margaret Spellings showed up at the St. Regis Hotel last month for bacon, eggs, and talk with a couple of dozen scribes. Sperling held 3,240 breakfasts. Cook, who calls himself "Son of Sperling," says the eat-and-greets break through sound-bite journalism. "The breakfasts are one of the few places in Washington where newsmakers and journalists can have a civilized, in-depth conversation," he says, "despite the ungodly hour and the fattening food."