- The Washington Times - Thursday, October 19, 2006

LA PLUME, Pa. — It is a sign of how bad Republicans’ problems are that President Bush, this close to the election, had to stump yesterday for two men who should have locked up their re-election months ago but are facing difficult campaigns because of scandal or mistakes.

Mr. Bush first campaigned for a Pennsylvania congressman who admitted to a five-year affair with a staffer half his age, though Rep. Don Sherwood has denied her charges that he tried to strangle her.

The president then flew to Virginia to campaign with Sen. George Allen, whose verbal gaffes have left him fighting for political survival against Democrat James H. Webb Jr.

Mr. Bush didn’t refer to Mr. Allen’s gaffes, which included using the word “macaca” — considered a racial slur in some cultures — to refer to an Indian American staffer from Mr. Webb’s campaign. But in Pennsylvania he did refer to Mr. Sherwood’s affair.

He noted that Carol Sherwood, the congressman’s wife, had written an open letter over the weekend about the campaign and said he “was deeply moved by her words.”

In the letter, Mrs. Sherwood said she has decided not to “dwell on” her husband’s infidelity, and she accused his opponent, Democrat Chris Carney, of exploiting the issue.

“Perhaps Carney gets some pleasure out of hurting our family, or maybe that’s what he thinks will make him a winner,” she wrote.

Democrats said Mr. Bush’s appearances yesterday were amusing given that last weekend he had proclaimed this as “Character Counts Week.”

“It is no surprise that President Bush is celebrating Character Counts Week by campaigning today for two ethically challenged Republican incumbents,” said Stacie Paxton, press secretary for the Democratic National Committee.

Mr. Carney said Mr. Bush “chose empty partisan rhetoric instead of addressing the realities facing our nation.”

White House spokesman Tony Snow said Mr. Bush had no hesitation about campaigning for both men. Mr. Snow said last week that Mr. Bush does not think Mr. Allen is a bigot. Mr. Snow also said the president believes everyone sins, noting that Mr. Sherwood has asked for forgiveness.

In 2004, Mr. Bush captured 60 percent of the vote for president in Mr. Sherwood’s district, and he won Virginia by eight percentage points over Sen. John Kerry, Massachusetts Democrat.

Yesterday’s campaigning was a study in the power of the presidency to sway elections, particularly when in territory friendly to him. He emerged from Air Force One in Pennsylvania with Mr. Sherwood, his wife and their daughter Maria, and all of them paused for photos at the top of the stairway.

Mr. Bush then got maximum exposure in the district, taking a 30-minute motorcade route from the airport to the event and a different route back. Hundreds of supporters turned out to watch the motorcade. Mr. Bush also made a stop at an ice-cream store on the return trip, where he mugged for photos and gathered the Sherwoods around him inside the shop for what he called “family-style” ice-cream eating.

In Virginia, Mr. Bush stopped at a pumpkin patch with Mr. Allen along the motorcade route. Asked by the press during the stop about his campaigning for the two men, Mr. Bush demurred, saying instead that he was focused on getting a pumpkin for his wife, Laura.

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