- The Washington Times - Tuesday, November 3, 2009

What site?

The 2009 races aren’t over yet, but intra-Republican battles have been joined for 2010. Case in point: the Florida U.S. Senate race.

RedState founder Erick Erickson — a backer of former Florida state House Speaker Marco Rubio — last week unmasked the relationship between the campaign of Gov. Charlie Crist and a site attacking Mr. Rubio, the governor’s Republican primary rival in the Senate race.

The site — www.truthaboutrubio.com — went live Oct. 27, but RedState did some computer sleuthing and found information tying Crist consultant Rich Heffley to the site (for the computerphiles, it was an image-source code that identified the user as “rheffley”).

“Mr. Heffley played a key role in getting Charlie Crist elected Governor in 2006. More importantly, Mr. Heffley is now Charlie Crist’s top advisor in his Florida Senate race,” Mr. Erickson wrote, going on to note that Mr. Heffley shares a business address with the Florida Republican Party and is on its payroll.

Then the plot thickened.

“I tried to call Mr. Heffley for comment and he would not call me back. A St. Petersburg Times reporter did get Mr. Heffley to answer. Mr. Heffley refused to answer questions about the website and within minutes of that phone call the website was taken down. About an hour later, the website came back up and the source code identifying Mr. Heffley had disappeared,” Mr. Erickson wrote.

Mr. Erickson also noted some of Mr. Crist’s words, saying they implied greater knowledge about the site than would seem likely for a day-old site and raised concerns about election law.

“Charlie Crist denied any involvement with this website, but knew enough to know that the one day old website contained press clippings ‘all in the public domain,’” the RedState founder wrote, linking to a St. Petersburg Times post quoting the governor.

A couple of days later, Mr. Erickson reported that “Rich Heffley admits it was all him,” linking to a report at the Fort Myers News-Press. “This was me going off half-cocked and I’ll never do it again,” the paper quoted Mr. Heffley as saying.

However, Mr. Erickson wrote, “notice how he waits until a Friday night” to change his story and admit the anti-Rubio site was his doing.

The Rubio campaign, meanwhile, said it doubted Mr. Heffley would have set up the site independently of the Crist campaign and the state party.

“Certainly this doesn’t pass the smell test,” spokesman Alex Burgos told the Fort Myers paper.

The site is still active.

‘A uniter …’

Michelle Malkin has a reputation as a hard-hitting blogger. But last week, as she often does, she used her site to push a couple of charities for wounded warriors.

Mrs. Malkin noted that the American Legion’s Combat Outpost Keating Relief Fund, to which she had directed her readers earlier last month, had raised $50,000, which was matched by the retail giant Target, to replace the personal gear of Fort Carson soldiers who lost it during a Taliban attack that left eight dead.

“And there’s always more to do. For several years, I’ve participated in the blogosphere fundraiser spearheaded by Soldiers Angels called ‘Project Valour-IT,’” she wrote, quoting from the Project site that it “helps provide voice-controlled/adaptive laptop computers and other technology to support Soldiers, Sailors, Airmen and Marines recovering from hand wounds and other severe injuries.”

“It’s time again for the charity drive and I’m asking for your help in supporting Team Marines,” she wrote of the project, a friendly contest between sponsors for the four military branches.

Sarah and Newt

The New York congressional race offered conservatives and Republicans not just a choice between Dede Scozzafava and Doug Hoffman, but also one between Newt Gingrich, an early endorser of Mrs. Scozzafava before she dropped out of the race and endorsed the Democrat, and Sarah Palin, an early endorser of Mr. Hoffman, argues Claude Sandroff at the American Thinker site.

“One thing is certain: it is Newt whose reputation is in shambles, and it is he who should seek political advice from Palin as to how he might regain his lost stature. And this will remain true whether Mr. Hoffman wins or loses. By unconditionally supporting the Republican machine candidate Dede Scozzafava — one of the most liberal candidates ever offered by the party in any race — Newt has forfeited any remnant of respect he might have retained as the standard-bearer of the conservative congressional revolution of 1994,” Mr. Sandroff wrote.

“Scozzafava supports the same extreme political positions (card-check, Obama stimulus) as any adolescent left-wing blogger. She maintains deep alliances with the most radical and odious groups (Acorn, Working Family Party) associated with the Democratic Party. By standing with her, Newt Gingrich has earned that dreaded label he once affixed to Nancy Pelosi. Newt has become a partisan and trivial politician. He has become a common hack.

“In contrast, Sarah Palin just compiles conservative esteem. When she railed against the compromised Republican machine in its support of Scozzafava, it felt like a stiff, clean, purifying breeze. … Her support and conviction were not products of a focus group. The note moved many a radio talk show host who read it aloud, from Mark Levin to Tammy Bruce. It was the reasoned stance of a visionary.”

Offering a dissent against the anti-Gingrich derision in conservative blogosphere was Allahpundit at Hot Air, who acknowledged that the site’s readers “will dump on [Mr. Gingrich] as a johnny-come-lately” for his Saturday endorsement of Mr. Hoffman. But he said there was a method to Mr. Gingrich’s madness.

“But (a) his support for Scozzafava was always strategic, driven more by stopping the Democrats next year than stopping Hoffman and (b) as her most prominent Republican supporter, this is the most important endorsement Hoffman could have right now aside from Scozzafava’s (or maybe [Maine Sens. Olympia] Snowe’s or [Susan] Collins’). There isn’t much time left before the election and there are bound to be hurt feelings among Team Dede’s Republican loyalists … to avoid my nightmare scenario of her voters breaking for the Democrat or staying home — every last Republican with an ounce of sway needs to push them to get over it ASAP.”

Change of mind

A Texas TV news story of a pro-life conversion began making the rounds of pro-life and conservative blogs this week.

The director of the Bryan, Texas, Planned Parenthood resigned after watching the ultrasound images of an abortion being done. Abby Johnson also said the group has changed its business model toward encouraging abortions, because it’s more lucrative than contraception, according to a profile on Bryan CBS affiliate KBTX.

Biblical imagery of conversion stories was prominent. Moonbattery cited Paul’s account of the road to Damascus: “And immediately there fell from his eyes as it had been scales: and he received sight forthwith, and arose, and was baptized. — Acts 9:18”

“It was the realization that abortion was a lucrative industry that flipped me from pro-Choice to pro-Life in college. Abby Johnson not only resigned from Planned Parenthood, but has become a supporter of the Coalition For Life, and has prayed with coalition volunteers outside Planned Parenthood,” Gregory of Yardale wrote at Moonbattery.

Victor Morton can be reached at vmorton@washingtontimes.com