Early reviews on Capitol Hill of new Treasury Secretary John Snow are good, but Republicans there remain unconvinced that Snow is the man whom Bush can count on to be the public face of his tax and economic stimulus packages.
"Snow seems like a more than competent guy," says a Finance Committee staffer. "He was much more on topic than O'Neill, which is an improvement. Still, he's got to go a lot further to prove he's the guy to really sell Wall Street and Americans on the White House policies."
Snow impressed the White House and Republican leaders on the Hill with his quick study and strong handle on the Bush economic plans and policies when he went to Capitol Hill last week to lobby on behalf of the administration. Snow had been heavily briefed for his confirmation hearings, then briefed again for his additional appearances on the Hill to discuss the Bush administration's plans.
"Over the past few weeks you can just see the relief with Snow around," says the Finance staffer. "He's not going to hang around with Bono or go off the reservation. But he's old-style Republican establishment. You just can't see him with his shirtsleeves rolled up speaking in Iowa on behalf of the White House."
The White House seems to understand that, too. The reality was that under the circumstances -- tough economy, uncertain policy implementation over the next year -- they weren't going to find a hot, comparatively young Robert Rubin type to front for them at Treasury. Instead, they found a man who can manage the department and talk about the issues without making anyone at 1600 nervous.
And the White House's pick for Treasury seems to be paying off. Career Treasury staffers report their new boss has made life for them easier than under O'Neill, who was known to stick his head into their offices and demand that they clean them up.
As for pushing the White House policies in the states, the White House plans on putting Bush out there on a number of occasions over the next month, and will be looking to Commerce Secretary Don Evans to do more of the heavy lifting.
"Evans hasn't been out there as often as perhaps he should have been," says a White House political staffer. "But we're going to have to use him now. We need him."
ONE SHOT POLITICS
Karl Rove is going to have to step into the Republican Florida Senate primary soon if the GOP is to have a legitimate shot at retaking a seat in the Sunshine state.
Former Rep. Bill McCollum, who was trounced by Sen. Bill Nelson in 2000, has announced plans to run for the Senate again, this time for the seat currently held by Sen. Bob Graham, who may run for president instead of for re-election.
McCollum, coming off his job as a House manager in President Bill Clinton's impeachment, ran unopposed in the Senate primary in 2000. Then he got buried by Nelson. McCollum's poor showing last time out probably does not bode well for him this time around, even if the Democrat in the race won't be Graham. Republicans in Florida are hoping the White House will step in and persuade McCollum not to run. There are several other figures who would make stronger GOP candidates. Already, Rep. Mark Foley, has indicated he will run for the seat, and has been lining up support in the Washington lobbying community for fundraising support.
"Foley is a better pick. He's just more appealing," says a Republican National Committee Staffer. "But the Senatorial campaign committee hasn't made a decision yet. They've just started looking at options. But I just don't think McCollum is going to be the guy. He had his shot and didn't perform well at all."
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