Lots of interesting stuff in Novak's column today -- including Newt's plans to stay on the sidelines if Thompson's campaign goes well:
Newt Gingrich is telling Republican insiders that his decision in September whether to run for president in 2008 depends on the progress of Fred Thompson's imminent candidacy.
If Thompson runs a vigorous and effective campaign, Gingrich says privately, he probably will not get in the race himself. If Thompson proves a dud, however, the former House speaker will seriously consider making a run. That implies that the others in the field look to Gingrich like losers in the general election.
A footnote: Gingrich has weighed in more heavily on the immigration issue than any of the major Republican presidential hopefuls. He has bombarded Republican Senate offices with material attacking the immigration bill backed by President Bush, even sending proposed talking points to senators about to meet with the president.
That just shows good sense, really. Newt and Fred will compete for the same pool of voters -- conservatives dissatisfied with the other choices. If Thompson polls in the 30 percent range, there aren't likely to be many voters left for Newt. Plus, Thompson probably has significantly more potential among Independent and Democratic voters -- something of which Newt is aware.
Novak also covers Hillary's plan to 'shift right' on health care. One fears it will be more cosmetic than legitimate. And he reports that Louisiana's Democratic State Treasurer -- John Kennedy -- will join a whole line of other party switchers in the state, and seek Mary Landrieu's Senate seat as a Republican:
John N. Kennedy, Louisiana's conservative Democratic state treasurer, is expected to change parties and run against Democratic Sen. Mary Landrieu as a Republican at the urging of White House aide Karl Rove, despite harassment from the Democratic-controlled state legislature.
Kennedy long has considered changing parties, but wanted to wait until the current state legislative session ended. His switch was discussed on Mother's Day in a private lunch attended by Kennedy, Rove and David Vitter, Louisiana's Republican senator. When Vitter leaked Kennedy's intentions, the legislature began machinations to obstruct operations of the state treasurer's office.
A strong fiscal conservative, Kennedy is fighting maneuvers intended to chew up a state budget surplus, as a Republican, Rep. Bobby Jindal, is expected to be elected governor of Louisiana this year.
Surprising that in a Congressional delegation that includes several strong Republican candidates serving in the minority, none will choose to seek an eminently winnable Senate seat.