Rumsfeld Sends Signals He'll Stay at Defense

Senior Defense Department officials say Secretary Donald Rumsfeld has told them nobody should stay for just another year, but that he wants them for the rest of President Bush’s second term. That is read as a signal that Rumsfeld intends to serve out the next three years.

Rumsfeld’s finishing his term would contradict wide speculation that he will quit soon after this week’s Iraqi parliamentary elections. That is now considered unlikely even if he does not complete the full term.

A footnote: White House Chief of Staff Andrew Card has said flatly there is no truth whatsoever to reports he is about to move to the Treasury to replace Secretary John Snow.

DeLay Decision

A decision on whether to hold new elections for House majority leader to replace Tom DeLay may not be made until the House Republican leadership meets at Cambridge on the Eastern Shore of Maryland following President Bush’s State of the Union Address on Jan. 31.

By then, it may be clear whether DeLay will be able to win acquittal from Texas criminal prosecution in time to obviate an election. Majority Whip Roy Blunt, who has been acting majority leader since DeLay’s indictment, probably would be challenged for the job by Rep. John Boehner.

DeLay has advised colleagues to keep Dec. 27 circled as the date when court decisions in Texas may provide a clearer outlook on what lies ahead.

Murphy Must Pick: McCain or Romney

Campaign consultant Mike Murphy, who has been handling Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney‘s exploration of a presidential candidacy, will not run Romney’s campaign if Sen. John McCain enters the race.

Murphy worked on McCain’s 2000 campaign, but is not on good terms with the senator’s current political advisers. However, he says he will not work for any candidate opposing McCain. Murphy has been based in Los Angeles since guiding Arnold Schwarzenegger to California’s governorship in 2003.

A footnote: Washington-based consultant Scott Reed held a Nov. 16 fund-raiser at his office that brought in $200,000 for McCain’s political action committees. Reed also has ties to Romney and has not decided whom to support in 2008.

Gilmore Again in Virginia

Former Republican National Chairman James Gilmore, the last Republican governor of Virginia (1997 to 2001), may run for his old job following Democratic victories for governor in the last two elections.

Gilmore has been critical of this year’s losing campaign by former State Attorney General Jerry Kilgore. Gilmore was critical of Kilgore and other Virginia Republican leaders for losing voters on the tax issue in a state that has not been carried by a Democratic presidential candidate since Lyndon Johnson in 1964.

A footnote: Despite Kilgore’s unimpressive campaign for governor, he is being talked about as a candidate for Congress against liberal Democratic Rep. Rick Boucher in southwest Virginia. Boucher has won election for 12 terms, but Kilgore carried the district in the governor’s race.

Prayer Politics

Hopes by Sen. Evan Bayh of Indiana to become the centrist candidate for the Democratic presidential nomination were not helped by the Nov. 30 ruling of Federal District Judge David Hamilton of Indianapolis, a former Bayh aide, against the Indiana state legislature opening its sessions with a prayer referring to Jesus Christ.

When Bayh was governor of Indiana, Hamilton was his chief counsel and master political strategist. Hamilton ruled, in response to a lawsuit filed by the Indiana Civil Liberties Union, that any prayers referring to Jesus Christ by name, “Savior” or “Son of God” are unconstitutional. He said that such a reference “amounts in practical terms to an official endorsement of the Christian religion.” Hamilton was named to the court by President Bill Clinton in 1994.

A footnote: Republican Rep. John Hostettler of Indiana, a member of the House subcommittee on the Constitution, contends the judiciary has no power to kill the legislature’s prayer. He plans to write President Bush urging him not to enforce Hamilton’s ruling.