- The Washington Times - Thursday, September 11, 2008

CAMPAIGN

Biden says McCain using dirty tactics

BOSTON | Sen. Joseph R. Biden Jr. said Wednesday that Republican Sen. John McCain is aiming the same kind of attacks at Democratic nominee Sen. Barack Obama that Mr. Biden had defended Mr. McCain against during the 2000 White House race.

“It’s my greatest disappointment,” said Mr. Biden, who described himself as “good friends” with Mr. McCain.

Addressing a fundraising audience of about 300 in Boston, the Delaware senator recalled how some supporters of then-Texas Gov. George W. Bush in 2000 questioned Mr. McCain’s commitment to his fellow Vietnam veterans and even suggested the Arizona senator was the father of an illegitimate child.

Mr. Biden said he supported Al Gore for president, but nonetheless called Mr. McCain during the campaign and said, “John, where do you want me? I’ll go anywhere in the country and I’ll stand before press conferences and I’ll testify to your character. You just tell me.”

“What really disappoints me is the very tactics used against him, they’re trying to use against Barack Obama now,” Mr. Biden said.

A Biden spokesman said the senator was referring to a new McCain ad suggesting the Illinois senator supported sex education for kindergartners, as well as a recent ad from a McCain fundraiser that linked Mr. Obama to 1960s radical William Ayers.

The McCain campaign said it stood by its assessments of Mr. Obama.

CAMPAIGN

Granholm to play Palin for Biden

LANSING, Mich. | Democratic Sen. Joseph R. Biden Jr. has tapped Michigan Gov. Jennifer M. Granholm to be the stand-in for Sarah Palin as he prepares for next month’s vice-presidential debate.

Mr. Biden predicted that Mrs. Palin would try to make their debate personal and said he wouldn’t respond in kind if she attacked him.

“She’s going to try to make it as personal as she can. She’s going to take a lot of straight lefts and jabs at me, she’s going to try to get me to respond, she’s going to try to get me to respond in a personal way,” Mr. Biden said at a fundraiser Tuesday night in Chicago. “That’s not my style. I’m not going to do it.”

Mr. Biden said Mrs. Granholm, a Democrat two years into her second term, had agreed to spend four days with him to help prepare for the Oct. 2 debate in St. Louis. The Obama-Biden campaign asked for her assistance, and she was pleased to accept, Granholm spokesman Liz Boyd said Wednesday.

INTERIOR DEPARTMENT

Sex and skiing: 13 cited in scandal

Government officials handling billions of dollars in oil royalties partied, had sex with and accepted golf and ski outings from employees of energy companies they were dealing with, federal investigators said Wednesday.

The supposed transgressions involve 13 former and current Interior Department employees in Denver and Washington. Their purported improprieties include rigging contracts, working part-time as private oil consultants, and having sexual relationships with - and accepting golf and ski trips and dinners from - oil company employees, according to three reports released Wednesday by the Interior Department’s inspector general.

The investigations reveal a “culture of substance abuse and promiscuity” by a small group of individuals “wholly lacking in acceptance of or adherence to government ethical standards,” wrote Inspector General Earl E. Devaney, whose office spent more than two years and $5.3 million on the investigation.

POLITICS

Coleman, Franken ready to rumble

ST. PAUL, Minn. | With easy primary victories behind them, Sen. Norm Coleman and his Democratic challenger, Al Franken, wasted no time Wednesday working to firm up the messages that will carry them through the general election.

Mr. Franken criticized Mr. Coleman as beholden to special interests, while the senator’s spokesman, Mark Drake, contrasted Mr. Coleman’s service with Mr. Franken’s “lack of any record to run on.”

Mr. Franken, the former “Saturday Night Live” actor who put a talk-radio career on hold to try his hand at politics, sealed the Democratic nomination Tuesday in a seven-way primary. Mr. Coleman, the incumbent, trounced his lone Republican opponent.

At a rally Wednesday on St. Paul’s west side, Mr. Franken invoked the memory of the late Sen. Paul Wellstone, promising to fight for working-class families. Mr. Wellstone died in a plane crash while campaigning for a third term in 2002.

FEMA

Millions wasted on Katrina contracts

The government wasted millions of dollars on four no-bid contracts it handed out for Hurricane Katrina work, including paying $20 million for a camp for evacuees that was never inspected and proved to be unusable, investigators say.

A report by the Homeland Security Department’s office of inspector general, obtained Wednesday by the Associated Press, is the latest to detail mismanagement in the multibillion-dollar Katrina hurricane recovery effort, which investigators have said wasted at least $1 billion.

The review examined temporary housing contracts awarded without competition to Shaw Group Inc., Bechtel Group Inc., CH2M Hill Companies Ltd. and Fluor Corp. in the days immediately before and after the August 2005 storm that smashed into the U.S. Gulf Coast.

It found that the Federal Emergency Management Agency wasted at least $45.9 million on the four contracts that together were initially worth $400 million. FEMA subsequently raised the total amounts for the four contracts twice, both times without competition, to $2 billion and then $3 billion.

POLITICS

Actor Damon pans Palin’s ‘bad movie’

TORONTO | Matt Damon says the selection of Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin as the Republican nominee for vice president could end up “like a really bad Disney movie” if Sen. John McCain wins the November presidential election.

“You do the actuary tables, there’s a one out of three chance, if not more, that McCain doesn’t survive his first term, and it’ll be President Palin,” said Mr. Damon, who was in town to promote ONEXONE, a Canadian children’s charity expanding to the United States, during the Toronto Film Festival.

“It’s like a really bad Disney movie, ‘The Hockey Mom.’ Oh, I’m just a hockey mom from Alaska, and she’s president,” Mr. Damon said. “She’s facing down Vladimir Putin and using the folksy stuff she learned at the hockey rink. It’s absurd.”

Palin campaign spokeswoman Maria Comella called the comments “name-calling.”

“It’s not surprising that the Barack Obama and his celebrity supporters continue to tear down Governor Palin with little more than blatant name-calling,” she said. “It’s clear they’re threatened by a candidate who actually has a record of achieving reform and change, while Barack Obama just talks about it.”

From wire dispatches and staff reports

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