- The Washington Times - Wednesday, February 18, 2004

Bob Dornan, radio talk-show host, former B-list Hollywood actor and a one-time congressman known as the “mouth of the House,” is accusing California Republican Rep. Dana Rohrabacher of having ties to extremist Arabs in hopes of toppling the eight-term incumbent.

But his challenge isn’t getting much traction in the 46th District, a conservative bastion in the heavily Democratic state, where the mostly Orange County voters see two similar Republicans butting heads in the state’s March 2 primary.

“Half the battle has been getting people to realize that we are not the same person,” said Mr. Dornan, who served in the U.S. House from 1977 until 1996, when he was unseated in the 46th District by Democrat Loretta Sanchez. “But the fact is that I am running a one-issue campaign. And we certainly aren’t similar in many ways.”

That issue is the Middle East, the same concern, Mr. Dornan notes hopefully, that helped unseat Democratic Reps. Cynthia A. McKinney of Georgia and Earl Hilliard of Alabama in 2002.

The two incumbents were heavily funded by pro-Arab groups and individuals, which led in part to their losses when Jewish groups donated to their competition, Democratic Reps. Denise L. Majette in Georgia and Artur Davis in Alabama.

Mr. Dornan, 70, known for his succinct candor, accuses Mr. Rohrabacher of being a “paid apologist for radical Muslim groups.”

Records show that Mr. Rohrabacher received $300 in August 1994 and $500 in 1996 from Abdurahman Alamoudi, who was arrested in the fall when he was accused of accepting $340,000 from terrorists working for al Qaeda and Libyan dictator Moammar Gadhafi.

“Bob Dornan has a well-earned reputation as a mean and nasty campaigner,” said Mr. Rohrabacher. “He is talking about somebody who gave me a small donation 10 years ago and another two years after that. And at that time, there was nothing to indicate that he was a bad egg.”

Mr. Rohrabacher has made numerous trips to the Middle East, compliments of the Arab American Institute and the Islamic Institute, two-pro Palestinian groups.

“I am someone who believes that my end goal is a secure Israel living in peace with its neighbors and my opinion reflect the majority of Israelis,” said Mr. Rohrabacher.

In 2002, he voted against a resolution of solidarity with Israel in its battle with Palestinian terrorism. The measure passed overwhelmingly with Mr. Rohrabacher one of four Republicans voting against it.

“There are close friends that Dana has who are upset over his voting record on Israel,” said Allan Hoffenblum, a Los Angeles-based political analyst and friend of Mr. Rohrabacher’s. “I have told Dana this to his face, and there are people who are exasperated over this. But he just responds that he disagrees.”

Mr. Rohrabacher, a senior member of the International Relations Committee and a former speechwriter for President Reagan, said that he is indeed a supporter of Israel and of the administration’s policy in the Middle East.

Further, “I spent so much time in the Middle East doing my best to help organize support for groups that were fighting the Taliban and al Qaeda,” he said. “It took me a few times. I also went there in support of the Iraqi resistance. And Bob Dornan is trying to cast a pall on this, like it is not a good idea.”

Locally, the race is not generating much attention. Bumper stickers are rare, ads are nonexistent and most of the action centers on fund-raising efforts on behalf of Mr. Rohrabacher from the likes of House Speaker J. Dennis Hastert, Illinois Republican.

“To see [Mr. Rohrabacher] challenged is a great surprise to most people,” said Tom Fuentes, chairman of the Orange County Republican Party. “Not to take away from Bob, but it’s a matter of loyalty. Republicans are very loyal to their incumbent officeholders.”

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