- The Washington Times - Saturday, March 15, 2003

Rep. James P. Moran was forced out of his party's leadership post yesterday after a furor over comments he made about the role of American Jews in the Bush administration's planning for a war with Iraq.
Mr. Moran, Virginia Democrat, stepped down from his position as regional whip at the insistence of House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, California Democrat. In a statement, Mrs. Pelosi said she spoke to Mr. Moran and that he agreed to give up his post.
"I have taken this action because Congressman Moran's irresponsible remarks were a serious mistake," Mrs. Pelosi said. "As I said earlier this week, his comments were not only inappropriate, they were offensive and have no place in the Democratic Party."
Speaking at a Northern Virginia constituent forum March 3, Mr. Moran said, "If it were not for the strong support of the Jewish community for this war with Iraq, we would not be doing this. … The leaders of the Jewish community are influential enough that they could change the direction of where this is going, and I think they should."
On Tuesday, Mr. Moran, a seven-term lawmaker from Alexandria, apologized for his comments. He said he framed his comments as he did because he was responding to a questioner who said she was Jewish. "I regret doing that," he said.
Mr. Moran's office said the decision for him to step down was mutual. "I stepped down from my leadership position today as a way to demonstrate acceptance of my responsibility for insensitive remarks I recently made," he said in a written statement.
"I will continue to reach out to the Jewish community and others who were offended by my remarks," his statement reads.
Mr. Moran said he plans to run for re-election next year, even though six House members, all of whom are Jewish, and Jewish community leaders called for him to step down.
"I think that there is not a person in the Jewish community who would support Congressman Moran, should he choose to run for elected office in the future," said Rabbi Jack Moline, one of the Northern Virginia rabbis who called for Mr. Moran's resignation this week.
Sen. Joseph I. Lieberman, Connecticut Democrat and a candidate for president, called Mr. Moran's remarks "baseless, divisive and offensive." But he said a decision on resigning or retiring at the end of this term should be up to Mr. Moran and his constituents in Virginia's largely Democratic 8th District.
Several Virginia lawmakers, including Virginia state Sen. Leslie L. Byrne of Falls Church and Fairfax County Board of Supervisors Chairman Katherine K. Hanley, have expressed interest in challenging Mr. Moran in the Democratic primary.
Jeremy Bash, 31, a lawyer and a former staff member for Mr. Moran, is also considering running for the nomination. "Any time people from your community come up to you and ask you to represent them for Congress, it's tempting," Mr. Bash said. "If I do it, it will be for the right reasons."
Members of the local Jewish community said they welcomed the challengers but said they had no plans to back a specific candidate just yet.
"Frankly, every person whose names have been circulating, I have confidence would not make the remarks Mr. Moran made," said Ronald Halber, executive director of the Jewish Community Council of Greater Washington. "I think Congressman Moran suffers from foot-in-mouth disease."

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