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Snookered? Novak says the McCain camp may have duped him

July 22, 2008 |  4:46 pm

After touching off hot speculation that John McCain was going to rain on Barack Obama’s parade of favorable news coverage by disclosing his VP choice this week, conservative columnist Robert Novak now says he may have gotten snookered.

"I got a suggestion from a very senior McCain aide late yesterday afternoon that he was going to announce it this week,'' Novak told Fox News Tuesday. "They didn't want it to come out the way it was going to come out, and they suggested I put it out.

"I then called another senior person who said, 'I can't talk about that, but wouldn't this be a terrific week to announce it, that is with Obama getting the headlines?' So I just put something on the Internet."

"I've since have been told by certain people that this was a dodge, they were trying to get a little publicity to rain on Obama's campaign,'' Novak told Fox. "That's pretty reprehensible if it's true, but we'll find out in a few days. "

Novak has been the vessel through which Republicans have leaked news that has proven controversial before.

Last week, Novak reported that McCain and Phil Gramm had patched up their differences after the former Texas senator caused a dust-up by calling America a "nation of whiners." Novak wrote that Gramm was returning to the McCain campaign but, amid the controversy that followed the disclosure, Gramm quit as a campaign co-chair.

But Novak kicked off a much bigger firestorm with his July 2003, column disclosing the identity of CIA covert operative Valerie Plame-Wilson. Maybe that was "pretty reprehensible" too?

-– Stuart Silverstein

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