The Note: Woulda, Coulda, Shoulda, Part III

WASHINGTON, Oct. 3

Continue to watch today for Republican calls for Hastert's (and others) resignation. Aside from the high-profile Washington Times editorial calling for Hastert's head, there are other lower profile activists doing the same and the papers are full of conservative quotes expressing concern about how the Foley scandal may cause a depressed GOP turnout in November as conservatives may decide to stay home. The Wall Street Journal, Rush, Hannity, and others are sticking by Hastert, for now.

And/but ABC News' Teddy Davis reports, "In a radio interview with 700 WLW radio in Cincinnati, House Majority Leader John Boehner (R-OH) placed responsibility for the Foley matter not being handled properly on House Speaker Dennis Hastert (R-IL).

"I believe I talked to the Speaker and he told me it had been taken care of," said Boehner. "And, and, and my position is it's in his corner, it's his responsibility. The Clerk of the House who runs the page program, the Page Board -- all report to the Speaker. And I believe it had been dealt with."

Note that by saying that he talked with the Speaker about Foley, Boehner is reversing course and going back to his original position.

On Friday, Boehner told the Washington Post that he "had learned in late spring of inappropriate e-mails Foley sent to the page, a boy from Louisiana, and that he promptly told Hastert, who appeared to know already of the concerns. Hours later, Boehner contacted The Post to say he could not be sure he had spoken with Hastert." LINK

According to today's radio interview, Boehner has gone back to saying that he did talk to Hastert about Foley.

ABC News' Mark Halperin reports a senior Republican House aide familiar with Boehner's thinking when asked if Boehner was throwing the Speaker under the bus said, "No. He is doing his best to relay the facts as to what he knew and when. The truth contained within those facts is our best defense."

Halperin also reports one Republican strategist tells The Note, "I think reporters are beginning to look at who had these IMs and why didn't they come forward with them. Its offense from here on out from us. Making the case that we never knew about the IMs and are outraged by them and want a full investigation. I can't help but wonder if some Ds had this info and only used it politically."

Many Democratic candidates will continue to demand that Republicans get rid of their Foley money and join them in their calls for resignations of leaders who did not do enough to investigate Foley.

The Foley story still continues to dominate most of the political coverage in regional papers across the country, keeping the scandal on the front-burner for many congressional campaigns.

We will also be on the lookout for sound from President Bush and Vice President Cheney who are both on the campaign trail today. The President would clearly rather leave this issue to this colleagues on the Hill, but a presidential remark smacking down Foley and the GOP leadership's handling of the affair (that one is more likely to be a gentle slap than a smack) may help Republican candidates turn the corner.

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