- The Washington Times - Thursday, October 12, 2006

Shays strikes back

When the congressional page scandal broke last month, Democrats across the country saw a chance to lambaste Republican leadership — including Connecticut U.S. House candidate Diane Farrell, who called on House Speaker J. Dennis Hastert to step down.

But when Sen. Edward M. Kennedy came to Connecticut last week to help her campaign, Republican Rep. Christopher Shays hit back, the Hartford Courant reports.

“I know the speaker didn’t go over a bridge and leave a young person in the water, and then have a press conference the next day,” said Mr. Shays, referring to the 1969 incident in which the Massachusetts Democrat drove a car that plunged into the water and a young campaign worker died.

“Dennis Hastert didn’t kill anybody,” he added.

Said Courant reporter David Lightman: “The GOP had seemed to be in deep political trouble a week ago, when many Democrats were stridently insisting that Hastert quit — and pressing their Republican opponents to make the same demand.

“But so far, the Democrats’ idea to make Hastert the villain has not worked.”

Star fundraiser

White House political strategist Karl Rove has raised more than $12 million for Republican candidates this election cycle, the Hill newspaper reports.

The total is remarkable for a White House staffer, more than any aide has been known to raise before, reporter Alexander Bolton said.

However, Mr. Rove’s contribution is a drop in the bucket of what White House officials have raised for Republicans in the past 21 months.

President Bush, Vice President Dick Cheney and first lady Laura Bush have raised a combined $239 million since the start of Mr. Bush’s second term, as of last week.

Adviser indicted

A top adviser and fundraiser for Illinois Gov. Rod R. Blagojevich has been indicted on charges of scheming to collect “millions of dollars in undisclosed kickbacks” involving the Illinois Teachers Retirement System, federal prosecutors said yesterday.

Businessman Antoin “Tony” Rezko was charged in the federal indictment with operating a fraud scheme along with millionaire political contributor Stuart Levine and other insiders.

The indictment was unsealed yesterday morning.

The indictment said that Mr. Rezko, Mr. Levine and others schemed to get kickbacks from consultants who represented those seeking business from the pension plan, the Associated Press reports.

Mr. Levine and two other men including Joseph Cari, a former finance chairman of the Democratic National Committee, had already been charged.

Mr. Blagojevich, a Democrat running for a second term, got elected four years ago as a reformer promising to clean up state government, but his administration has been mired in controversy for doling out jobs and contracts to the politically connected.

Polls have shown Mr. Blagojevich with a double-digit lead over Republican opponent Judy Baar Topinka.

Instant carping

“North Korea’s apparent test Sunday of a nuclear device raises large questions with which the United States and the world must now grapple in the months and years ahead. But it may also have finally settled the question of how much time this and future Administrations will have available to deal with genuine foreign policy crises before they become merely political. The answer, it seems, can be measured in milliseconds,” the Wall Street Journal said in an editorial.

Sen. Bob Menendez was not formerly known as an expert on nuclear proliferation or the politics of Northeast Asia. But there was the New Jersey Democrat on Monday delivering the view that Kim Jong-Il‘s latest demonstration of aggressive intent ‘illustrates just how much the Bush Administration’s incompetence has endangered our nation.’

“Not to be outdone, Majority Leader-in-waiting Harry Reid insisted the Administration appoint a ‘senior official to conduct a full review of [its] failed North Korea policy.’

“Mr. Reid performed the rare feat of making Nancy Pelosi sound statesmanlike. Ms. Pelosi at least acknowledged that countries such as China might have played a negative role here,” the newspaper said.

$2 million more

Behind in the polls, Democrat Ned Lamont has given $2 million to his campaign to unseat three-term Connecticut Sen. Joe Lieberman.

Mr. Lamont has contributed $8,751,500 of his own personal wealth to his Senate bid, including a $2 million check he wrote on Tuesday, the Associated Press reports. The latest poll showed him trailing Mr. Lieberman, 48 percent to 40 percent, with Republican Alan Schlesinger at just 4 percent.

Mr. Lieberman launched an independent bid after losing the Democratic primary to anti-war challenger Mr. Lamont in August.

Star power

Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger traded quips with the host one moment and criticized U.S. foreign policy the next during an appearance last night on “The Tonight Show with Jay Leno” that had the Republican governor’s opponents crying foul because his Democratic rival wasn’t included.

When asked by Mr. Leno about TV campaign ads attempting to link Mr. Schwarzenegger to President Bush, the star of the “Terminator” films mocked the notion.

“To link me to George Bush is like linking me to an Oscar,” said the governor, who has never been nominated for acting’s most prestigious award.

On a more serious subject, the governor said a “lot of mistakes” were made during the war in Iraq, and said that “without any doubt, we have to find an exit strategy as quickly as possible.”

His appearance riled supporters of his opponent, state Treasurer Phil Angelides, whose campaign manager Cathy Calfo said she sent a letter yesterday to 11 NBC affiliates in California asking them to give equal time to the state treasurer.

A few dozen Angelides supporters staged a protest outside “The Tonight Show” studio, chanting “Hey, hey, ho, ho, Schwarzenegger’s got to go.”

Wide margin

Florida Rep. Katherine Harris is trailing by a wide margin in her bid to unseat Democratic Sen. Bill Nelson, according to a poll released yesterday.

Mr. Nelson was favored by 61 percent compared with 33 percent who preferred Mrs. Harris, whom party leaders had tried to force out of the race, and 6 percent were undecided. The results were gathered in a random telephone sampling of 783 likely voters, conducted Oct. 3-8 by Quinnipiac University Polling Institute.

In a larger sampling of 968 registered voters, Mr. Nelson was favored by 56 percent to Mr. Harris’ 31 percent with 11 percent undecided.

Greg Pierce can be reached at 202/636-3285 or gpierce@washingtontimes.com.

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