- The Washington Times - Wednesday, October 29, 2008

POLITICS

RNC borrows to help senators

The Republican National Committee is taking out a $5 million line of credit to help Senate Republican incumbents who are facing re-election difficulties.

The national party committee plans to give $2 million directly to the National Republican Senatorial Committee (NRSC) for the final days before the Nov. 4 elections, party officials said Tuesday. It also plans to spend $3 million in coordination with several Senate Republican campaigns. Officials would not disclose which races they intend the money to assist.

At least eight Republican-held seats are in danger, according to polls. The NRSC has been outspent by its Democratic Party counterpart. It also has been short of cash to give a hand to its troubled candidates.



SENATE

Byrd criticizes Reid over report

Sen. Robert C. Byrd, the elderly Democratic chairman of the Senate Appropriations Committee, criticized Majority Leader Harry Reid Tuesday over a news account that said Mr. Reid is plotting to oust him from his post.

The inside-Washington newspaper Politico, citing anonymous sources, reported Tuesday that Mr. Reid is planning to ease Mr. Byrd, the longest-serving senator in history, from the helm of the powerful Appropriations panel and would award the chairmanship to the next most senior Democrat, Daniel Inouye of Hawaii.

That provoked an unusually direct retort from Mr. Byrd, of West Virginia, who mentored Mr. Reid when the Nevada Democrat came to the Senate more than two decades ago. According to the Politico account, Mr. Reid has discussed the scenario with his advisers and with Mr. Inouye.

“I am disappointed that, according to press accounts, the Majority Leader is talking to others about the chairmanship of the Senate Appropriations Committee,” Mr. Byrd said. “This is the sort of Washington back-room gossip which ill serves the Democratic Party in a year when Democratic unity should be paramount.”

COURTS

Authorities dismiss anti-Obama plot

BELLS, Tenn. | Two white supremacists charged with plotting to behead blacks across the country and assassinate Sen. Barack Obama while wearing white top hats and tuxes were likely too disorganized to carry out the plot, authorities said, and their purported planning was riddled with blunders.

Paul Schlesselman, 18, of Helena-West Helena, Ark., and Daniel Cowart, 20, of Bells are accused of dreaming up the plan. While authorities say they had guns capable of creating carnage, documents show they never got close to getting off the ground.

Among the blunders: They drew attention to themselves by etching swastikas on a car with sidewalk chalk, only knew each other for a month, couldn’t even pull off a house robbery, and a friend ratted them out to authorities.

“Certainly, these men have some frightening weapons and some very frightening plans,” said Mark Potok, director of the Southern Poverty Law Center, who studies the white-supremacy movement. “But with the part about wearing top hats … it gets a bit hard to take them seriously.”

Despite making sure the plot was stopped, authorities did not think Mr. Cowart and Mr. Schlesselman had the means to carry out their threat to assassinate Mr. Obama, said a federal law enforcement official who spoke on the condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to discuss the case publicly.

SENATE

Kennedy returns to Washington

Sen. Edward M. Kennedy will return to Washington for his first extended stay since being diagnosed with brain cancer in May, an aide said Tuesday.

Kennedy spokeswoman Melissa Wagoner said the senator planned to leave the family’s Hyannis Port, Mass., compound on Tuesday afternoon for Washington, weather permitting. She said he would return to Cape Cod around Thanksgiving.

Mr. Kennedy, 76, will continue to receive cancer treatment while at his home in Washington. His spokeswoman said doctors were pleased with the senator’s progress.

Mr. Kennedy had a seizure in May and underwent surgery in June for a malignant brain tumor. After undergoing six weeks of chemotherapy and radiation treatment, he has been steadily increasing his public activity.

POLITICS

Clinton stumps in New Hampshire

DOVER, N.H. | With a week to go before the election, Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton cautioned New Hampshire Democrats not to take the race for granted, even though Sen. Barack Obama is ahead in the polls.

“You know New Hampshire has been tight as a tick in the past two elections,” Mrs. Clinton said, mentioning that in the 2000 and 2004 presidential elections, there was a difference of one percentage point between the winner and loser in the state. “The eyes of the country are on New Hampshire once again.”

Mrs. Clinton beat Mr. Obama in the state’s presidential primary in January, after pre-election polls pegged Mr. Obama as the winner. On Tuesday, she urged her supporters to help Mr. Obama.

POLITICS

‘Joe the Plumber’ endorses McCain

COLUMBUS, Ohio | “Joe the Plumber,” the small-business aspirant and overnight media sensation, endorsed Sen. John McCain’s presidential campaign Tuesday and said Sen. Barack Obama would make America a socialist nation.

The Ohio plumber, whose real name is Samuel Joseph Wurzelbacher, became famous after he was referred to constantly in the final presidential debate. Mr. McCain has been portraying the plumber as emblematic of people with concerns about Mr. Obama’s tax plans.

Mr. Wurzelbacher’s first trip to the podium was without notes. “I love America. I hope it remains a democracy, not a socialist society. … If you look at spreading the wealth, that’s honestly right out of Karl Marx’s mouth,” Mr. Wurzelbacher said.

“No one can debate that. That’s not my opinion. That’s fact.”

Mr. Wurzelbacher was scheduled to make stops in Dayton, Middletown, Milford and Cincinnati. The bus tour included guests billed as Mary the Flag Lady, Mike the Painter and Linda the Fitness Trainer.

POLITICS

5 papers to insert anti-Obama DVD

COLUMBUS, Ohio | Readers of Ohio’s three largest newspapers, along with papers in Florida and Nevada, are finding an anti-Barack Obama DVD in editions this week.

Citizens United, a conservative advocacy group based in Washington, plans to release a 95-minute film in the five swing-state publications to highlight Mr. Obama’s record on abortion, foreign policy and his past associations, including his relationship with his firebrand former pastor Rev. Jeremiah A. Wright. The group said it planned to spend more than $1 million to distribute about 1.25 million copies of “Hype: The Obama Effect.”

“We think it’s a truthful attack. People can take it anyway they want,” said David Bossie, Citizens United’s president.

Readers of the Columbus (Ohio) Dispatch received their copy Tuesday. The Cincinnati Enquirer, the Cleveland Plain Dealer, the Palm Beach (Fla.) Post and the Las Vegas Review-Journal are scheduled to receive them in coming days.

Among those interviewed on the DVD are conservative columnist Robert Novak, former Clinton strategist-turned-pundit Dick Morris, former Ohio Secretary of State Ken Blackwell, former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee and former Pennsylvania Sen. Rick Santorum.

From wire dispatches and staff reports

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