Despite the fact that White House Chief of Staff John Sununu's own congressman, fellow Republican Chuck Douglas, 47, is up for reelection in New Hampshire's 2nd Congressional District, don't look for President Bush to go anywhere near that race this fall.
It might have played out differently if Sununu's wife, Nancy, had decided to challenge Douglas for their party's nomination. A critic of the thrice-divorced Douglas's "family values," she refused to shake hands with him in a receiving line last year, and had been making noises about a House race ever since.
But the June 15 filing deadline came and went without her hat being thrown in the ring, and last week in Concord she said it was because she loves her job -- as special projects director for the Republican Governors Association -- and is still needed at home where the Sununus have a young son. A couple of years from now, it might be another story.
In the Douglas camp, the news of Nancy's decision was treated with studied indifference. "It didn't matter one way or the other," a spokesman said yesterday.
As for that other enemy camp where the prospect of holding coats had been a tantalizing one, Democratic challenger Dick Swett, 33, seemed only too willing to raise the obvious question before voters: If Douglas is shut out of his party's own White House, what kind of clout does he have in Washington?
Swett may not have any White House connections either, but he does have one on Capitol Hill. A New Hampshire native whose business is alternative energy development, Swett is married to Katrina Lantos, whom he met while they were students at Yale. If no one in rural New Hampshire knows that her father is Rep. Tom Lantos (D-Calif.), the folks at the White House sure do.
Requests for Barbara Bush to lead the cheering section don't stop coming from this year's crop of GOP candidates, but the White House said yesterday "nothing definite" in the way of campaign appearances is yet on her schedule.
Two gubernatorial races in which Mrs. Bush almost certainly will lend a hand are Sen. Pete Wilson's against former San Francisco mayor Dianne Feinstein in California and Clayton Williams's against former state treasurer Ann Richards in Texas.
In fact, Mrs. Bush told reporters in March, when she was named to the Women's Hall of Fame in Texas, that she would be back to campaign for Williams.
"We expect her to be very active," said one of her spokeswomen. "In the past, she has always been an enthusiastic campaigner and we expect her to do quite a bit this summer and fall. She views herself as a cheerleader."
Meanwhile, Vice President and Marilyn Quayle are in Sacramento, Calif., today for "Operation Exodus," a fund-raiser expected to raise $750,000 to help Soviet Jews leave the Soviet Union and provide some of the settlement and relocation costs. The trip isn't totally nonpolitical. Quayle is also scheduled to meet with the GOP caucuses in both houses of the California legislature and to campaign for a congressional candidate.
Future presidents, or at least their childbearing offspring, will have a long way to go if they want to catch up with the Bushes. In the Children's Garden at the White House, there are already handprints left in concrete by 11 Bush grandchildren (Ashley Bush, Neil's youngest, also left her footprint). Still to come are the handprints of Walker Bush, Marvin's infant son, and who knows how many other Bushes as yet unborn.
Tucked out of the way on the South Lawn near the swimming pool, the quiet little garden was established by President and Lady Bird Johnson as a place where grandchildren, born before or during a president's term, would be remembered by history. To date, the score is two Johnsons (Patrick Lyndon Nugent left a footprint rather than a handprint) and three Carters. The grandchildren of Richard Nixon and Gerald Ford were born after the two men left office. Ronald Reagan's two grandchildren visited the White House while he was president, but neither left behind a hand- or footprint.
Pat Nixon hasn't made an official appearance since Richard Nixon resigned the presidency 16 years ago at the White House. When she climbed into the presidential helicopter for the flight to California that day, she virtually disappeared from public view.
Then, last week, that seemed to be changing -- at least for the moment. Posing for a portrait with Nixon on their 50th wedding anniversary, the 78-year-old former First Lady allowed an Associated Press reporter and photographer a rare glimpse of her at the Nixons' four-acre Saddle River, N.J., estate from which they will move soon to a nearby Park Ridge town house. Described as walking unaided (she has suffered two strokes, among other illnesses through the years) and carrying on a genial conversation, Mrs. Nixon smiled readily for the camera.
Next month, hundreds of cameras will be aimed her way as she plays a prominent role in the dedication of the Richard Nixon Library & Birthplace at Yorba Linda, Calif. The White House says President and Mrs. Bush will attend the July 19 event. Two other former presidential couples, Jerry and Betty Ford and Ronald and Nancy Reagan, have accepted; the Reagans have also invited the Nixons to cocktails in Bel Air on July 17.
Not present will be Jimmy and Rosalynn Carter, who turn down most invitations to ceremonial functions these days and sent word that they have other plans, and former First Ladies Jacqueline Onassis and Lady Bird Johnson. Lady Bird reportedly wanted to go since it was President Nixon who dedicated the LBJ Presidential Library in Austin, but she too had other plans.