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Club for Growth President Pat Toomey thinks the safer political vote for incumbents, especially Republicans, is a “nay” because it separates them from President Bush, whose job approval rating is somewhere below freezing on the Fahrenheit scale. It also allows incumbents “to rail against corporate bailouts and puts them on the popular side of the issue,” said Mr. Toomey.

In eastern Pennsylvania, Democrat Sam Bennett used the bailout issue to hit incumbent Republican Rep. Charlie Dent for filling his campaign coffers with contributions from the financial-services industry.

“For the last eight days, the foundation of our economy has been shaken, and Republican Charles Dent hasn’t even issued a statement,” Bennett communications director Gary Ritterstein said in a press release this week. “And now, we find out that he takes over $600,000 from the very people that are responsible. I guess he wouldn’t want to put those campaign contributions at risk.”

Dent campaign manager Shawn Millan called the criticism “an unfair attack,” adding that Mrs. Bennett violated the call by presidential nominees Democrat Barack Obama and Republican John McCain not to politicize the economic rescue.

“She’s trying to make a linkage,” Mr. Millan said. “It’s an unfair attack until she says something about the hundreds of thousands of dollars [Democratic presidential nominee] Sen. Barack Obama has received from the same people.”

Rep. Dennis Moore, a Kansas Democrat and Financial Services Committee member, said the “crisis is the result of a combination of irresponsible financiers pushing the limits of the marketplace, and the administration that failed to properly regulate the financiers’ actions in the public interest. Until 2007, Congress did not provide effective oversight of these regulators or of this marketplace.”

Mr. Moore’s Republican opponent, State Sen. Nick Jordan, blamed Congress and Mr. Moore in particular, arguing that the credit system’s thrombosis was triggered by the failure of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac and their lobbying of Congress to shovel out more and more high-risk loans.

“These two government-sponsored entities have been propped up by Congress for years,” Mr. Jordan said. “This includes Dennis Moore, who has served on the Financial Services Committee for 10 years and who’s received over $30,000 in contributions from them.”