- The Washington Times - Sunday, October 29, 2006

Democratic and Republican party leaders continue to debate which issues — and scandals — will drive voters to the polls next week for midterm elections.

“I think that there will be different issues in different districts,” Republican National Committee Chairman Ken Mehlman said yesterday on CBS’ “Face the Nation.” “There are two kinds of overriding issues that seem to be applying in most districts, and one is the question of whether Americans want to see their taxes go up. … The other question is, ‘What do we do in the war on terror?’ ”

During his own CBS appearance, Democratic National Committee Chairman Howard Dean said his party would not raise taxes on all Americans and promised to fight a “smarter” war on terrorism.

“We have no intention of raising taxes except on the people who have got enormous tax breaks, like the oil companies, from the Republicans,” Mr. Dean said. “We need a minimum wage [increase]. America needs a raise. The Congress has gotten their raises, but the American people haven’t gotten theirs.”

Mr. Dean denied Republican accusations that his party would try to impeach President Bush if it wins control of Congress.

“I think that is also a scare tactic,” he said.

Meanwhile, House Majority Leader John A. Boehner said he doesn’t think the Mark Foley congressional page scandal will hurt Republicans at the ballot box.

“The House ethics committee is doing a very good investigation in a bipartisan way. I was happy to meet with them, and I believe that they’ll have a report coming soon,” the Ohio Republican said on ABC’s “This Week.” “What the American people want to know is who is going to take care of them when it comes to lowering their taxes, securing our borders and providing the president with the tools to fight the terrorists?”

Mr. Boehner acknowledged that Iraq is a prominent issue but said it won’t work in the Democrats’ favor. “We don’t have a national election. And all these big national polls that show the trends don’t mean anything because what we have are 435 individual races all around the country, local candidates running on local issues.”

The two sides also debated the motives behind a campaign advertisement run in the U.S. Senate race in Tennessee. Critics said the ad, run against Rep. Harold E. Ford Jr., a black Democrat, has racist overtones. The ad was pulled after criticism from both parties.

“The ad that you are talking about is an ad that is being run independently of the Republican National Committee,” Mr. Mehlman said.

Mr. Ford told “Fox News Sunday” that he thinks the ad is racist and is glad it was pulled. “I think it was smut. I don’t think race had anything to do with that ad,” he said. “The party of family values should not have run that in Tennessee, or anywhere for that matter.”

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