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In the Loop

Gutierrez Denied First Aide

By Al Kamen
Wednesday, February 2, 2005; Page A21

If you want a friend in Washington, as President Harry S. Truman so aptly observed, get a dog. Incoming Cabinet members, however, usually do not need to rely on a slobbering St. Bernard. Traditionally, they are allowed bring along a couple of trusted aides, just to have someone they can count on to look out for their interests and not just the president's.

Buzz about town is that new Commerce Secretary Carlos M. Gutierrez, former head of the Kellogg Co. in Battle Creek, Mich., asked his longtime vice president of government affairs, George Franklin, to be his senior adviser, apparently the only non-administration aide Gutierrez wanted.

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Franklin, one of the state's premier business lobbyists, who worked smoothly with both sides of the aisle, did not want to come to Washington, we're told. He preferred staying in Michigan and was looking forward to retiring after many years at the cereal maker. But Gutierrez insisted and Franklin finally consented.

Things were all set. Franklin was ready to go, even getting ready to rent a townhouse in this area. But not so fast.

Seems the White House, presumably counselor Karl Rove, had heard from Michigan Republicans who opposed Franklin. Word is it fell to White House Chief of Staff Andrew H. Card Jr. to give Gutierrez the news.

Unclear who opposed him or why, because Franklin's enemies are said to be few and far between. But it may have to do with his strong support of former Battle Creek mayor and freshman Rep. John J.H. "Joe" Schwarz (R-Mich.) in his congressional race. Schwarz, it turns out, was head of Sen. John McCain's 2000 presidential campaign in Michigan, where McCain won the GOP primary, a painfully embarrassing blow to the Bush folks. Whatever the reasons, Franklin is not coming to town.

So let's have a hearty Loop welcome for Gutierrez. This ain't Battle Creek. Perhaps he'd like a bichon frisé?

McMenamin to McCain?

Speaking of McCain, Eileen McMenamin, longtime and highly regarded political producer for CNN -- including "Inside Politics Sunday" and "Crossfire" -- and before that ABC News, is said to be heading up to Capitol Hill to become communications director for the Arizona Republican, replacing Marshall Wittmann, gone to the Democratic Leadership Council.

Swift Vote Veterans

Freedom haters on the Internet have been active this week trying to undercut the importance of the big electoral turnout -- and victory for the Bush administration -- in Iraq on Sunday. They've been circulating an article by reporter Peter Grose in the New York Times back on Sept. 4, 1967.

"United States officials were surprised and heartened today at the size of the turnout in South Vietnam's presidential election despite a Vietcong terrorist campaign to disrupt the voting," Grose reported.

The turnout was about 83 percent of the nation's registered voters and "many of them risked reprisals threatened by the Vietcong," Grose reported. "A successful election has long been seen as the keystone in President Johnson's policy of encouraging the growth of constitutional processes in South Vietnam."

The naysayers jabbered on about deja vu all over again. Well, that surely depends on how you vu it.

The Other Road to the White House

Musical chairs at the White House . . . Political director Matt Schlapp, a Loop favorite for his participation in the famed Brooks Brothers Riot in Miami during the 2000 vote count and a former top aide to Rep. Todd Tiahrt (R-Kan.), is going private later this month, landing work with Wichita-based Koch Industries Inc. He's going to be executive director of federal government affairs; that is, running the lobbying office here.

Lee Anne McBride, who's been press secretary at the Federal Emergency Management Agency and before that was with the National Republican Congressional Committee, moved over this week to the White house to be press secretary for Vice President Cheney. She replaces Kevin Kellems, who moves up to be Cheney's assistant for communications, working on strategy and such.

Meanwhile, the road to the White House legislative office seems to go through lobbying firm Washington Council Ernst & Young.

Candida "Candi" Wolff, who had been Cheney's lobbyist before moving to the firm, is back as head of the White House legislative operation. Brian Conklin, another partner in the firm who had also been in the Bush administration before, is back as head of the House operations.

They will find a third former partner, Doug Badger, who left about two years ago to join the White House staff. He's leaving his current post as special assistant for economic policy to join the legislative shop.

Frost Bidless

A curious e-mail wandered by yesterday: "This is a reminder, sent out once a month, about your martinfrost.com mailing list memberships. It includes your subscription info and how to use it to change it or unsubscribe from a list."

Memory must be failing faster than expected. Totally missed signing up for former Texas representative Martin Frost's mailing list. But since he withdrew his bid yesterday to be chairman of the Democratic National Committee, there's probably no need now to unsubscribe.

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