- The Washington Times - Thursday, August 23, 2001

Democratic Rep. Gary A. Condit today will blitz his constituents with a mass mailing and televised interviews in a carefully managed effort to save his political career and to convince voters, however subtly, that he is not guilty of murder.
A senior House Democratic leadership aide said Mr. Condit has not received advice from Minority Leader Richard A. Gephardt on his network appearance. But the staffer said top Democrats are counting on Mr. Condit to convince viewers that his affair with Miss Levy and the young woman's disappearance are unrelated.
"They became joined in the public's mind, obviously to the great detriment of Gary Condit," the aide said. "That would be the one thing I would like to accomplish — if he could get the questions divided."
Republicans are counting on something else. "It'll be the Jesse Jackson 'I-need-to-heal-with-my-family' routine," said Noralynn Goold, a Republican Party official in Mr. Condit's California district. "He's playing out of the Clinton playbook."
Mr. Condit has scarcely said a word in public since early May, when 24-year-old Washington intern Chandra Levy disappeared and he subsequently admitted to having an affair with her. The congressman, who is married, will appear on ABC's "Prime Time" at 10 tonight for a 30-minute interview with Connie Chung.
"He needs to say he's sorry," said Republican consultant Kellyanne Conway. "That's his road to comeback. This country loves two kinds of people — survivors and victims."
About 217,000 households throughout Mr. Condit's district will receive a mailing from him today, asserting that he had nothing to do with Miss Levy's disappearance. One such letter apparently will arrive in the mailbox of Miss Levy's parents, Robert and Susan Levy of Modesto, who have accused Mr. Condit of withholding information about their daughter.
There is much at stake for Mr. Condit, who has never lost an election in 26 years and once told his hometown newspaper that his political philosophy is simply to "try to do the right thing."
He has been interviewed by D.C. police and FBI agents four times about Miss Levy's disappearance but has yet to explain his actions to his constituents.
"Every day he was silent was working against him," said Democratic strategist Chris Lapetina. "By talking, he starts the process. He is very popular in his district. The Democrats would much rather have Condit and deal with the repercussions."
Mrs. Goold said she's amazed that Mr. Condit's political career isn't dead already, given this scandal, plus a flight attendant who said she also had an affair with him, and reports of other affairs with other women.
"This man ran on family values," Mrs. Goold said. "Sadly enough, he still has a lot of support. You can pretty much guarantee that every TV set will be tuned in to ABC."
Mr. Condit plans to give an interview tonight with a newspaper and a television station in his district, and to talk to two weekly newsmagazines.


People Magazine spokesmen said an issue with their interview and with Mr. Condit — and his wife — on the cover will be on newsstands tomorrow.
"You're not going to send a letter and give an interview and all of a sudden be healed," Richie Ross, Mr. Condit's Sacramento-based political consultant, told the San Francisco Chronicle. "You have to take this thing in steps."
Mr. Ross said Mr. Condit will say that he has been deeply concerned about Miss Levy's disappearance and has cooperated with the police and the FBI to try to find her. Mr. Condit is planning an Oct. 20 "Condit Country" fund-raiser, and Mrs. Goold said ticket sales to that event will be an indication of whether constituents still support him.


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