- The Washington Times - Thursday, February 13, 2003

Sen. Mary L. Landrieu, who is now opposing the nomination of Miguel Estrada to a federal appeals court judgeship, ran Spanish-language radio ads during her campaign for a December runoff election saying she supported his nomination.
The ads, which ran on a New Orleans radio station for almost two weeks, praised Mrs. Landrieu's outreach to Hispanics and specifically noted Mr. Estrada.
"Mary Landrieu also supported the candidacy of the Honduran Miguel Estrada for the federal court of appeals," the ad said, according to an English translation provided by the Republican National Committee.
In a statement, Mrs. Landrieu acknowledged the ads ran. She said does not take a position on nominations until they come before the Senate, but said she should respond to Republican attacks that she didn't support Mr. Estrada.
She said she was neutral on the nomination, since it was not yet pending in the full Senate, but the radio station that produced the ad misinterpreted that as support.
"My campaign ran an ad that was intended to convey only that I did not oppose his nomination. Instead, it read as if I had already decided to support him. Unfortunately, some of my supporters in the Hispanic community who helped us to produce this commercial misinterpreted my neutrality as a statement of support," she said. "I take personal responsibility for the error and I apologize to anyone who was misled by these ads."
But Republicans said she shouldn't be let off so easily.
"She lied to the community, and now she's turning back on the community that helped elect her," said Sharon Castillo, a spokeswoman for the Republican National Committee. "I sure hope that the voters are going to hold her accountable."
She also said it was "another example of Democrats saying anything to get elected."
President Bush nominated Mr. Estrada to a seat on the U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia. Democrats have been demanding more information on Mr. Estrada before allowing a vote on him, and they sent a letter Tuesday asking the White House to release internal memos he wrote while an assistant solicitor general.
Yesterday, the White House responded with a 15-page memo detailing why that has only been done in response to limited requests in certain cases, but never in response to a request for all memos.
White House Counsel Alberto Gonzales wrote that the conflict over the memos "is unnecessary because your desire to assess the nominee can be readily accommodated in many ways other than intruding into and severely damaging the deliberative process of the Office of Solicitor General."
To that end, the memo provides a recap of answers Mr. Estrada gave to Judiciary Committee members on a range of topics.
Mr. Gonzales noted that all living former solicitors general, four Democrats and three Republicans, have agreed with the White House stance.
"That is a fundamental principle that has been followed, irrespective of the party that controls the White House and the Senate," Mr. Gonzales said.
But Sen. Patrick J. Leahy, the top Democrat on the Judiciary Committee, said the letter doesn't answer any of his party's questions.
"I hope that after getting this letter off its chest, the administration will now begin to work with us. If they did, we could end the stalemate they've created," he said.
The White House is trying to secure enough support to overcome a filibuster and is pursuing a strategy of trying to sway individual Democrats one at a time.
"Every member of the Senate has been provided extensive background materials about Miguel Estrada," White House spokeswoman Ashley Snee said. "He has met with several Democratic members individually and continues to make himself available to meet with members to get out the facts."
The list includes nine Democratic senators already: Mrs. Landrieu, Mr. Leahy, Blanche Lincoln of Arkansas, Bill Nelson of Florida, Ben Nelson of Nebraska, Dianne Feinstein of California, Herb Kohl of Wisconsin, John B. Breaux of Louisiana and Mark Pryor of Arkansas. In addition, Thomas R. Carper of Delaware is trying to schedule a meeting.
But so far the efforts have been unable to shake enough Democrats. Only Mr. Breaux, Mr. Nelson of Nebraska and Sen. Zell Miller of Georgia have said they oppose a filibuster and back Mr. Estrada. Mrs. Lincoln is widely seen as undecided.
The president made his first personal public appeal for Mr. Estrada on Tuesday afternoon, calling him "highly qualified."
"He has the votes necessary to be confirmed. Yet a handful of Democrats in the Senate are playing politics with his nomination, and it's shameful politics," the president said.
The administration also is sending Mr. Gonzales to do television interviews to advocate for Mr. Estrada, who many Democrats and Republicans say may be an eventual Supreme Court nominee.

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