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Michelle Vetoes Hillary

An Inside Report by Robert D. Novak

Saturday, May 10, 2008

WASHINGTON, D.C. -- Close-in supporters of Sen. Barack Obama's presidential campaign are convinced he never will offer the vice presidential nomination to Sen. Hillary Clinton for one overriding reason: Michelle Obama.

The Democratic front-runner's wife did not comment on other rival candidates for the party's nomination, but she has been sniping at Clinton since last summer. According to Obama sources, those public utterances do not reveal the extent of her hostility.

A footnote: Support is growing in Democratic ranks for Ohio Gov. Ted Strickland as vice president. He would bring to the ticket maturity (66 years old), experience (six terms in Congress) and moderation (rated "A" by the National Rifle Association). He is very popular in Ohio, a state Republicans must carry to elect a president.

DISSING BOLTON?

John Bolton, who as U.S. ambassador to the United Nations in 2005-2006 became a conservative icon, has not connected with Sen. John McCain's presidential campaign, though he desires to help out.

Friends say Bolton was puzzled when his offers of assistance got no response from the McCain campaign. He did receive a late request to be a spokesman for McCain Tuesday in Winston-Salem, N.C., where the candidate addressed selection of federal judges. However, Bolton got the impression that he was merely being asked to attend the event and declined the invitation.

Bolton's treatment did not appear to signify disrespect for him by McCain but rather disorganization at the candidate's headquarters.

PENALIZE LIEBERMAN

Even strong support from Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid may not save the Homeland Security Committee chairmanship for Sen. Joseph Lieberman if he goes through with plans to address the Republican National Convention in St. Paul, Minn.

Reid opposes trying to kick Lieberman out of the Senate Democratic caucus (which would cost him his chairmanship) because he has endorsed Republican John McCain for president. But other Democratic senators complain Lieberman would go a step too far if he addresses the Republican convention. Elected as an independent in 2006, Lieberman now designates himself an "Independent Democrat."

A footnote: Lieberman recently approached one prominent supporter of Hillary Clinton with a suggestion that he consider supporting McCain if Barack Obama is nominated.

MCCAIN'S MANAGER

Republican insiders were surprised when Paul Manafort, prominent in national Republican circles for over 30 years, was passed over as John McCain's national convention manager in favor of a relatively unknown p.r. executive.

Doug Goodyear, CEO of the Washington-based DCI Group public relations firm, has not been an active political player in recent years. He ran the disastrous 1988 U.S. Senate campaign in New Jersey for Gen. Pete Dawkins, who lost to Democrat Frank Lautenberg.

Manafort has been a major operative at every Republican National Convention, starting as an aide for President Gerald Ford in 1976. He is a lobbying partner of McCain national campaign manager Rick Davis, but McCain does not want to hire a heavy contingent of lobbyists to give Barack Obama an easy target. Manafort also is in disfavor at the State Department for representing the pro-Russian former Ukrainian Prime Minister Viktor Yanukovych.

PAUL STILL RUNNING

Not only has Rep. Ron Paul's ongoing presidential candidacy continued to record a substantial vote against John McCain in primary elections, but Paul advocates also forced an unprepared Nevada Republican Party establishment to abruptly adjourn last month's state convention in Reno selecting delegates to the national convention. The meeting has not yet been reconvened.

With a majority at the state convention supporting Paul, several national convention delegates pledged to the insurgent candidate were ready to be elected. State Sen. Bob Beers, the state convention chairman, abruptly adjourned the session. He later explained, "We were overtime on our contract for our convention space" and "were paying our stagehands and audio-video technicians overtime."

A footnote: Paul has made clear on several occasions there is no chance that he ever will endorse McCain for president.

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