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Calling All Would-Be Presidents!

The Greater Des Moines Partnership (formerly the Des Moines Chamber of Commerce) will be on Capitol Hill on Wednesday, Thursday and Friday, reports Roll Call’s Chris Cillizza.

As usual, the group has put together a star-studded speaking lineup — due in no small part to Iowa’s first-in-the-nation presidential caucuses.[IMGCAP(1)]

On Wednesday, Indiana Sen. Evan Bayh (D) will address the assembled throng at a Congressional leadership luncheon at the Washington Court Hotel.

The following day, South Dakota Sen. John Thune (R), who has repeatedly denied an interest in a 2008 run, is slated to speak.

And, for conspiracy theorists out there, Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice has been invited to host the announcement of the World Food Prize on Friday morning at the State Department.

The group, comprised of 180 folks of all partisan stripes, will also take in a Washington Nationals game Thursday night, featuring Hall of Fame pitcher — and Iowa native — Bob Feller, as well as pork chops on a stick (yum!) graciously provided by the Iowa Pork Producers.

Sign of Things to Come? Sources at the House and Senate campaign committees spent much of Friday crowing about their exploits on the softball diamond last week.

The combined forces of the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee and the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee rolled over Pennsylvania Sen. Rick Santorum’s (R) “Phillybusters” on Thursday night by a score of 15-6.

Santorum is the top target of Senate Democrats who have recruited state Auditor Bob Casey Jr. into the race.

“I bet the Santorum people are breathing a sigh of relief that he didn’t offer to give up his seat if they lost,” cracked DSCC mouthpiece Phil Singer. “They figure that’s going to happen in 18 months anyway.”

Better Late Than Never. Sen. John Kerry’s saying thank you to his presidential staff … and only six months after the election ended.

In an e-mail sent Thursday, the Massachusetts Democrat expressed his gratitude for the “extraordinary effort” of his former staffers and urged them to visit his Web site (www.johnkerry.com/alumni) and let him know what they are doing now.

“Please note whether there is any way I or someone on my current staff might be helpful to you as you search for new opportunities,” Kerry wrote. “I’ve set up an e-mail address, alumni@johnkerry.com, which our team will respond to promptly.”

Too little, too late for some staffers.

“So much for dispelling the ‘aloof’ charge,” said one former staffer about the missive.

Kerry loyalists said the Massachusetts Senator had previously reached out personally to a number of past staffers and has thrown a handful of “thank you” parties as well.

Texas Ribs. The folks at National Journal’s Technology Daily must have been using a crystal ball when writing a recent headline. They nailed it twice with their May 26 banner, “Lawmakers Grill Justice Over Requests For Expanded Powers.”

Just a few hours after Rep. Louie Gohmert (R-Texas) and his fellow Judiciary Committee colleagues interrogated Justice Department officials about the Patriot Act that day, the freshman Texan was “grilling” something else on his office balcony: slabs of ribs.

The wafting sweet smell of the ribs was enough to draw the Capitol Police to his fifth-floor office in the Cannon House Office Building to “investigate” the situation and ensure all the safety precautions were being followed.

“They stopped by and left with the rib recipe,” Samantha Jordan, Gohmert’s chief of staff, told Roll Call’s Mark Preston. “They smelled the delicious aroma and went looking for it and tracked it to here.”

Jordan said the Member/chef was so “inspired” by the “beautiful day” that he was moved to break out his Weber grill and fire up baby back ribs with “LBJ’s secret rib rub.”

But it wasn’t just the police who stopped by for Gohmert’s finger-licking ribs. Several Members and staffers popped in for a taste of the Texas delicacy. But don’t fret if you missed last month’s feast. Jordan assures us the grill will be fired up again soon.

“I would imagine he has a number of other types of meats he would like to try,” Jordan said.

The Bermanator. Jeff Berman, who toiled for half a decade as Sen. Charles Schumer’s (D-N.Y.) counsel before heading to California last winter, has landed a job as a Los Angeles-based consultant for People For the American Way. After helping Schumer fight President Bush’s judicial nominees, Berman will again take up the fight against Bush’s nominees, particularly if, as expected, there is a vacancy on the Supreme Court. PFAW has already spent close to $5 million on a nationwide campaign to preserve the minority right to filibuster nominees.

While working for the aggressive Schumer and living in Washington, D.C., prepared Berman for all sorts of happenstance — one of his regular pick-up basketball companions was Bush circuit court nominee Brett Kavanaugh — it’s still a tall order to take on the lead Hollywood role for an organization that was founded by acclaimed TV producer Norman Lear.

As one Democratic strategist put it, “He’s gone from working for King Lear to Norman Lear.”

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