Washington Prowler

Guess Who Didn’t Come to Breakfast

An important Catholic gathering in Washington. Plus: Kerry’s sunny wrinkle-free Sunday. Also: Veep for hire.

By 4.28.04

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SPURNING BREAKFAST
The White House spurned one of the largest gatherings of Roman Catholics in Washington this morning, out of concern that the gathering would be too Washington-centric, according to someone familiar with the Bush Administration's Catholic outreach program.

Instead of having him drop by the first ever National Catholic Prayer Breakfast on Wednesday morning, the President's advisers kept him at home. The prayer breakfast, which was to feature a rosary, Mass, and a speech by Avery Cardinal Dulles, sold more than 900 tickets in less than a month.

The event, including the Mass, was held at the Mayflower Hotel in downtown Washington, a block from St. Matthew's Cathedral. Washington's Theodore Cardinal McCarrick, who ten days ago met privately with Sen. John Kerry, would not allow organizers to use the cathedral out of concern that the event would be too "conservative," according to a source inside the Washington Diocese.

Sen. Kerry's presidential campaign had attempted to get Kerry invited, but organizers did not extend an invitation.

The breakfast was organized by a nonprofit group, set up, in part, by Domino's Pizza founder Tom Monaghan.

"This is the first year the event was held, and there was some concern about committing the President to an event that didn't have a track record of success," says a White House insider. "The decision to decline the invitation had nothing to do with politics. We understand that Catholics are a critical part of the Republican base. Maybe we got bad advice."

That's not the way many Catholics see it. Instead, there continue to be rumblings that the White House and its Catholic surrogates fail to reach out in even small ways to Roman Catholic groups.

"You look at states like Ohio and Pennsylvania," says a longtime Catholic activist in Washington, "and you wonder, who is speaking to the Irish Catholic, the Italian Catholic, the ethnic Catholic? It sure isn't this White House and it sure isn't the people they have trying to do Catholic outreach."

Word in some Catholic circles is that in-fighting among those who direct Catholic outreach for Republicans may have doomed what could have been a high profile appearance for the President among Catholics just blocks away from the White House. Instead, the President is slated to speak at the national convention for the Knights of Columbus.

"Why can't the President do two Catholic events in the same year?" wonders the Catholic activist.

WRINKLE PROOF
Sen. John Kerry spent more than $1,000 to get his hair trimmed for his recent Meet the Press appearance. And he had a lot more done, as well. According to several plastic surgeons who looked at pictures of Kerry's appearance on the news show, all agreed that Kerry had again had a round of botox injections, as well as some tanning treatment to give his skin color.

"First of all, the tan was gone within 36 hours of his appearance, so that's an easy one," says the Chevy Chase, Md., physician. "The botox thing is harder, but the way the wrinkles play out on his forehead is very different from the way they were moving and developing just several days before. His skin definitely looked tauter around the eyes and forehead."

Kerry has insisted that he had never had a botox treatment, going so far as to say that he didn't even know what botox was.

"We got him out in the sun the day before he did the Russert show. There was no phony tan, no botox," says a Kerry adviser in Washington. "Even if he did, there is nothing wrong with currying favor with the metrosexual vote."

RENDELLED SPEECHLESS
Word in Pennsylvania is that Gov. Ed Rendell is angling for the vice-presidential job with Sen. John Kerry. Pennsylvania is considered a critical state for Kerry and for Republicans. Rendell was elected governor in 2002. "He's extremely ambitious and wants a shot," says a Pennsylvania insider. "He sees some of the other governors being considered and wonders why he isn't being considered."

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