2008 and counting

Kay’s not com-Mitt-ed

Buzz was building this week as former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney (R) visited with Kay Bailey Hutchison (Texas), the Senate GOP’s No. 3, who is often floated as a running mate for Republican candidates seeking to counter Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton’s (D-N.Y.) appeal to female voters.

But Hutchison said her vice-presidential potential did not come up during the sit-down, which coincided with a Texas trip by Romney competitor Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.): “We just talked about the issues,” she said. She remains unattached to any of the multiple GOP White House hopefuls who are currying favor with senior lawmakers.

— Elana Schor


McCain attracts LaTourette’s backing

Rep. Steven LaTourette (R-Ohio) yesterday became the latest House Republican to announce his support for Sen. John McCain’s (R-Ariz.) presidential campaign.

“Senator John McCain is a leader in the Republican Party who is respected for his candor and resolve,” said LaTourette. “Senator McCain is committed to fiscal responsibility, and has proven time and time again that he can bring people together to get the job done.”

On Tuesday, McCain’s exploratory committee announced that it had the support of Florida Rep. Ric Keller (R), giving McCain congressional allies in two general election battleground states.

Alexander Bolton


Gun-rights group hits Rudy

Soon after Rudolph Giuliani (R) formally began a 2008 exploratory bid, the trade association for the firearms industry attacked the crime-busting former New York City mayor’s record on guns.

Giuliani, who filed as a candidate for the Republican nomination on Monday, “is attempting to camouflage his record on guns,” said Lawrence Keane, senior vice president and general counsel for the National Shooting Sports Foundation (NSSF), in a release Tuesday.

The NSSF then details Giuliani’s record on guns, saying he has advocated suing the firearms industry and has “flip-flopped” on his support for the so-called “assault weapons” ban.

Pundits are predicting that Giuliani’s liberal views on social issues will hamper his candidacy, despite his popular image as “America’s Mayor.”

Former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney, another GOP presidential candidate criticized for liberal views in his past, attended the NSSF’s trade show last month.

— Aaron Blake


Making the case for a bipartisan ticket

Unity08 announced this week that voters can register at their website to be delegates for the “history-making” online political convention the group is hosting next year.

Slated for spring of 2008, Unity08 is offering voters a chance to go online and vote for a bipartisan ticket in what’s being billed as “the first-ever ‘national’ presidential primary.”

— Sam Youngman


Dodd claims progress in  ‘invisible primary’

His widely unknown candidacy is still the butt of jokes on late-night talk shows, but Sen. Chris Dodd (D-Conn.) is claiming progress in the Beltway’s so-called “invisible primary.”

In an e-mail sent to supporters yesterday, Dodd’s campaign points out that he ranks second among candidates with $5 million in cash on hand and is fourth in the National Journal rankings of Democratic presidential candidates, behind the big three of Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton (N.Y.), former Sen. John Edwards (N.C.) and Sen. Barack Obama (Ill.).

— Aaron Blake


Romney calls for tax reform

Former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney (R) yesterday delivered what his advisers billed a major policy speech on the economy at the Detroit Economic Club.

Romney called for tax-code reform and for Congress to make permanent President Bush’s tax cuts of 2001 and 2003.

He also suggested the creation of tax-free savings accounts to help Americans save more and the formation of a regulatory relief board to reduce government regulation. Following Bush’s lead, Romney said if elected to the White House he would veto appropriations bills that exceed their spending stories.

More daringly, Romney also suggested improving fuel efficiency standards, a potentially controversial proposal in Motor City. But Romney made sure to add that he would listen to the auto industry’s concerns.

— Alexander Bolton