- The Washington Times - Thursday, September 20, 2001

Democratic and Republican campaign committees pledged yesterday to refrain from fund raising and other political actions in the midst of the nation's plans for a war against terrorism, but a top Democratic official said his party would re-evaluate that position week by week.
Neither party was willing to say precisely how long it intends to honor the fund-raising moratorium or what the long-term impact of the political cease-fire might be on the current election cycle, though some Republican officials said they would re-examine their position early next month.
"We won't engage in any fund raising until at least Oct. 1, but we'll re-evaluate the situation at that time. We don't feel that it is appropriate at this time to engage in partisan activity," said Steve Schmidt, spokesman for the National Republican Congressional Committee.
But the Democratic National Committee said for the first time yesterday that while it was fully behind the war effort, it did not think the war effort should prevent normal fund-raising activities without the usual partisan political attacks.
"So right now, we are absolutely rallying behind President Bush 100 percent. But we hope that when the time is right, to continue our debate in the two-party system on important policy issues in a very civil way and in a way that does not conflict with our unity when it comes to national security," said Maria Cardona, DNC communications director.
"I'm not going to give a time frame. Collectively, we might feel that it is appropriate that we as a party might continue fund raising in one week, two weeks or one month," she said last night.
The fund-raising hiatus was hurting the Democrats financially much more than the Republicans, who traditionally raise more money and who had much more cash on hand, according to Democratic officials. And, with political control of the House and Senate up for grabs next year, the DNC was clearly eager to resume fund raising.
The Republican and Democratic national committees, and their congressional, Senate and gubernatorial committees, have halted direct-mail and telemarketing fund raising and have canceled party meetings and fund-raising dinners that were scheduled this month.
They have also taken all of their partisan rhetoric off their Web sites, replacing it with the latest remarks by President Bush on the terrorist attacks in New York and Washington and information on where to donate money to charitable organizations or to volunteer to help the families of victims.
"We had our big gala fund-raising dinner planned this month where Vice President Cheney was going to speak and we postponed it. We had a fund-raising event planned in New York in October and that's been postponed, too," said Ginny Wolfe, spokesman for the National Republican Senatorial Committee.
Democratic fund-raisers have similarly been postponed. "We have rescheduled a number of fund-raising events and other political events in light of the situation," said Dan Pfeiffer, spokesman for the Democratic Governors' Association.
Meanwhile, a key Republican strategist said yesterday that the electorate's focus on the war effort would likely hurt the GOP's gubernatorial candidates in the only two statewide elections that will take place this November.
"Whoever is ahead in September on the day of the attack is likely to be the winner, for the very simple reason that the issues that are being debated in the contest are very trivial compared to what's happened with the attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon," said the strategist, who spoke on the condition of anonymity.
In the Virginia gubernatorial race, Democrat Mark R. Warner has been leading Republican Mark L. Earley, while in New Jersey Democrat Jim McGreevey is running well ahead of Republican Bret Schundler.
"In Schundler's case, a pledge to tear down the toll booths is not going to resonate with people who live in the shadow of New York City, and in wartime, it will be very difficult for the underdog candidate to raise partisan issues through contrast ads on television designed to change public opinion," the Republican strategist said.

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