Of most interest to the DNC are Frist’s financials. Before arriving in Washington, he helped run his family’s HMO business, and was considered a savvy businessman along with being a superb physician. “There is some real concern here, though, that he’s a Mr. Clean type,” says the Democratic Party operative.
Initial reports out of Tennessee would appear to confirm their fears. “There isn’t much, so far,” says staffer for the state Democratic Party in Tennessee. “He was a physician and businessman, so you’d assume there were some court cases, a really ugly malpractice case or problems with the business, but it just isn’t there. We’ve looked.”
Republicans weren’t about to be blindsided, either. Both the RNC and the White House have checked out Frist over the past few months as his profile in the Senate continued to rise. “There isn’t anything there,” says an RNC staffer. “You know the Democrats are going to be picking through his medical background for the health care reform fight, but at this point, they’d be morons to tear this guy down. A year from now, the country is going to be clamoring for him to be vice president.”
Frist went into Monday’s vote understanding full well what he was getting into. According to Senate sources, Frist spoke extensively with his caucus colleagues, including several long sessions with Sen. Don Nickles, about whether he was up to the challenge of a post-Lott leadership post.
“The environment isn’t as poisoned as you might think,” says a Republican Senate staffer. “A week ago, things looked bleak. Today, things don’t appear so bad, we’re thinking that with the holidays and other stuff going on around the world we’re almost back to where we were after the elections.”p> A FILL OF LOTT
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