The Note: Bugging Indecisions

WASHINGTON, Oct. 5

Here's a Note exclusive, a joint statement from two gentlemen who wish to demonstrate that there is unity and harmony between the Office of the Speaker and the Office of the Majority Leader:

Dearest Gang of 500:

The most common denominator threaded throughout this story is the question: To whom should those of us in the media assign blame? Our answer is simple: the blame lies squarely with Mark Foley. Mark Foley lied. Mark Foley engaged in widespread deception. Mark Foley disgraced the institution to which he was elected to serve. Mark Foley resigned in disgrace before the entire Congress expelled him from office. Mark Foley should be and will be held accountable for his despicable actions.

Additionally, any individual or individuals with knowledge of these explicit instant messages between Mark Foley and underage pages or former pages should come forward and provide this information to the proper authorities. These witnesses must cooperate with law enforcement about their knowledge of these explicit communications. Also any individuals who had prior knowledge of these instant messages and provided them to the media instead of alerting the proper authorities must answer questions about their motives and the possibility that they put others at risk.

House Democrats interested only in tearing down reputations in order to make a power grab will be sorely disappointed. Republicans are unified in our outrage against Mark Foley and resolute in our determination to complete a full and thorough investigation of the facts. That House Democrats have decided to merely resort to crass political maneuvering indicates they are motivated only by their political self-interest.

Ron Bonjean

Communications Director

Office of the Speaker

Kevin Madden

Press Secretary

Office of the House Majority Leader

Speaker Dennis Hastert (R-IL) has no public events scheduled for today and was expected to remain at home in Illinois.

But a green town car left Hastert's residence this morning around 6:00 am local time with a woman driving. It was too dark to tell if anyone was huddled in the back but the stake-out crew speculation is the car was perhaps headed to the small local airport and the Speaker may be enroute back to DC.

(If you have never been at a media stake-out, however, you can't appreciate how wild -- and often baseless -- such speculation can be. Still, some have wondered why the Speaker was hanging out at home, rather than getting to DC to huddle with staff and try to fix things.)

Lynn Sweet of the Sun-Times has this: "'Denny is reaching out to everyone he can reach out to,' his former spokesman, John Feehery, told me on Wednesday. 'I just don't know how the story plays out, how much oxygen is out there.''' LINK

(In response to yesterday's Note, John Feehery tells ABC News on the record that the Speaker is doing all he can do to address the problem and working to get his message out. And/but he is advising the Speaker on this matters and watching the situation evolve.)

Unresolved: if the ethics committee will move the ball; how bad Republican race-by-race polling data will have to get to move the ball; if any of the House Republican leaders are capable of trust any more; if the base can be sufficiently rallied by attacks on ABCNEWSOROS; and the contradictions between Fordham and Palmer.

An "open letter" was sent by House Majority Leader Boehner (R-OH) to his constituents yesterday. Boehner writes at length about the distinction between the "over friendly" e-mail and becoming aware of that in spring 2006 and the sexually explicit instant messages he learned of when ABC News published the report on Friday. Embedded in the letter is his stated support for Hastert continuing as Speaker.

This Chicago Tribune story is must-reading for anyone following all this closely. LINK

It includes no huge news, but. . .

1. An interview with Hastert in which he renews his accusations that ABC News, Democrats, and George Soros are the real culprits here.

2. A rare on-the-record interview with Hastert's powerful deputy chief of staff Mike Stokke.

3. A quote from an anonymous Republican with close ties to the White House:

"'This is a disaster. It's undermining our base. And it's been handled terribly,' said a Republican official with close ties to the White House. 'Quite frankly, right now, everybody's circling the wagons.'"

"But the official pointed out that a departure by Hastert might not solve the party's political difficulties since Boehner also was in the loop on the complaint. 'The No. 2 supposedly knew about this months ago,' the official said."

Like the Chicago Tribune account, this Bloomberg News story makes clear that Hastert is spending time calling allies to keep them on board. LINK

Note, too, that Bloomberg reports "Human Events, a conservative national weekly, will call on House Republicans to elect new leaders in an edition that goes to press today, said Tom Winter, the editor-in-chief. 'I don't think Hastert will be there much longer,' Winter said."

And don't miss the important on-the-record quotes from Republican members Porter and Franks talking, well, frankly about how bad this is for the party.

The House ethics committee meets at 10:00 am ET. Pool camera coverage is expected for entrances and exits. The committee meets in executive session. Members are not expected to address the cameras.

Rep. Tom Reynolds (R-NY) is scheduled to appear on National Public Radio at 10:15 am ET on the program "On Point."

President Bush was scheduled to participate in a briefing on No Child Left Behind at 9:15 am ET followed by a visit to Woodbridge Elementary and Middle Campus Schools in Washington, DC. President Bush makes remarks about his education agenda at 11:00 am ET.

Later, Mr. Bush meets with the National Commander of the American Legion at the White House at 1:55 pm ET.

Vice President Dick Cheney addresses the Michigan Congressional Victory Committee 2006 at 12:30 pm ET in Bath, MI. He then heads off to a reception for the Allen Victory Committee at 5:00 pm ET in McLean, VA.

First Lady Laura Bush speaks at two events today, the Preserve America History Teacher of the Year Awards at 12:30 pm ET and the National Parks Foundation Gala at 7:00 pm ET, both in New York City.

House Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) delivers an address at 11 am ET concerning the economy at Georgetown University in Washington, DC. The Associated Press has a preview of her remarks. LINK

Former President Bill Clinton campaigns for congressional candidate Joe Sestak at 12:00 pm ET in Wayne, PA while across the state, in Gladwyne, PA, Former President George H. W. Bush a fundraiser for Sen. Rick Santorum (R-PA).

The pair meet up at the National Constitution Center in Philadelphia, PA to receive an awards former for their fundraising work. Be sure to watch "World News with Charles Gibson" tonight from Philadelphia including an interview with President George H.W. Bush.

Michael J. Fox campaigns with Claire McCaskill and highlights her position on stem-cell research at 5:30 pm ET at the Monarch Restaurant in St. Louis, MO.

Ethics committee convenes:

The Associated Press tees up today's ethics committee meeting and reports, "Republican officials said at least a few disgruntled members of the GOP rank and file had discussed whether to call on the speaker to step aside." LINK

The AP Notes, too, that the Wright and Gingrich investigations were conducted by outside counsel. The Hill's Josephine Hearn reports that Rep. Patrick McHenry (R-NC) called on Leader Pelosi and Chairman Emanuel to "offer a 'yes or no' answer as to whether they would go under oath 'to assure the American people that neither you nor your staffs had prior knowledge or involvement -- at the strategic or tactical levels -- with the release of Foley's e-mails and/or instant messages.'" LINK

"Representative Deborah Pryce of Ohio, a member of the leadership, asked the current clerk of the House, Karen L. Hass, to investigate reports raised this week in a party conference call that Mr. Foley was once turned away from the pages' living quarters and that the staff in the page program had raised concerns about him with the former clerk," reports the New York Times' Zeleny and Hulse. LINK

Foley: Hastert's timeline:

ABC News' Brian Ross reports on former Foley chief of staff Kirk Fordham's claims to have brought Foley's contact with former pages to the attention of the Speaker's office in late 2003. LINK

"What Kirk Fordham said did not happen," said Hastert's chief of staff Scott Palmer in a written statement last night. The Los Angeles Times on the Fordham claim and pushback from Hastert's office: LINK

"Despite claims by senior congressional aide Kirk Fordham that he notified House Speaker Dennis Hastert's office more than two years ago about possible inappropriate contact between former Rep. Mark Foley, R-Fla., and underage congressional pages, the Speaker's office insists it did nothing wrong in the way it handled the investigation," write Jake Tapper and John Yang of ABC News. LINK

And in case you thought the leadership infighting had subsided, Yang and Tapper have this: "Asked to describe the mood among the Hastert team, the aide said they were 'frustrated' and 'deeply disappointed that so many people are willing to throw Denny to the sharks,' a reference to conservatives who have called for Hastert's resignation, as well as to comments by Reynolds and Majority Leader John Boehner, R-Ohio, distancing themselves from Hastert.

"'Boehner's instincts are the same he showed back in '98,' the aide said, referring to the time Boehner pleaded ignorance about an attempted coup of then-Speaker Newt Gingrich, R-Ga., and was defeated in his re-election to House leadership largely as a result." The Hill's O'Connor has more pushback from a House leadership aide against Fordham's claims. LINK

Foley: Kirk Fordham profile:

The Los Angeles Times' Wallsten and Hamburger write of the commonality between Mark Foley and Kirk Fordham. "Both were gay men with private struggles, trying to make their mark in a party that was anything but hospitable to homosexuals." LINK

Foley: the messages:

The Hill reports that the source who -- in July -- gave news media Rep. Mark Foley's (R-FL) suspect e-mails to a former House page says the documents came to him from a House GOP aide. LINK

"These revelations mean that Republicans who are calling for probes to discover what Democratic leaders and staff knew about Foley's improper exchanges with under-age pages will likely be unable to show that the opposition party orchestrated the scandal now roiling the GOP just a month away from the midterm elections."

After reviewing some of then-Rep. Foley's instant messages, the Washington Post's Jonathan Weisman and Juliet Eilperin write: "Foley appeared aware that he was behaving badly, chastising himself but unable to stop. It was that behavior that his former chief of staff, Kirk Fordham, seemed to allude to when he said yesterday that he turned to the most senior House leadership officials to intervene when his own efforts to stop Foley's actions had failed." LINK

Foley: Republicans weighing in on Hastert:

The Wall Street Journal's ed board comes to Hastert's defense on the Foley matter: "What is Mr. Hastert's supposed firing offense, anyway? We've seen no evidence to date that he lied or attempted a cover-up. His office responded to complaints from the parents of a former page by having the head of the page board and clerk of the House speak with Mr. Foley and order him to stop communicating with the minor. Republicans should also have alerted the Democrat on the page board to the warning, but to force a Speaker's resignation because he didn't demand an investigation into every communication between Mr. Foley and current and former pages is politically convenient hindsight."

But the Journal slips in that maybe Hastert should be out in the next Congress because of the party's legislative record.

From the Washington Examiner's interview with Vice President Cheney: "'I'm a huge Denny Hastert fan -- I think he's a great speaker,'" Cheney said in his private cabin aboard Air Force Two. 'And it makes no sense at all for him to think about stepping down.'" LINK

On ABC News' "Good Morning America," Diane Sawyer asked former Secretary of State James Baker if Speaker Hastert has to go. "I really don't know the answer to that. I don't think he ought to be hounded out of office. It depends on what's there," Baker said. He also praised the Speaker for calling for a full investigation of the matter.

The Wall Street Journal's David Rogers bides his time another day and focuses on Majority Whip Roy Blunt (R-MO) "implicitly" criticizing the Speaker for "deferring to the parents when more answers were needed. 'You have to ask all the questions you can think of,' Mr. Blunt said. 'You absolutely can't decide not to look into activities because one individual's parents don't want you to.'"

The Washington Times' Charles Hunt also ponders the impact of Blunt's comments. LINK

Foley: Reynolds' role:

The New York Times' Hernandez writes up how the Foley scandal has dogged Rep. Tom Reynolds (R-NY) back home around Buffalo. LINK

Foley: political fallout:

The Wall Street Journal's Jeanne Cummings looks at the political fallout with a heavy emphasis on MN-06. LINK

In a must-read, USA Today's Judy Keen looks at the politics of Foley. LINK

"In Tennessee, Republicans are running an ad that says Democratic Rep. Harold Ford, who's running for the Senate, attended a party with Playboy bunnies. 'I'm not going to take a lecture on morality from a party that took hush money from a child predator,' he said in Memphis."

House Majority Leader John Boehner (R-OH) continued to draw a distinction between the "over friendly" emails and sexually explicit instant messages in an open letter to his constituents. Boehner also expresses support for Speaker Hastert in the letter. LINK

Sen. Mike DeWine (R-OH) and Rep. Deborah Pryce (R-OH) have both called for the resignation of any House GOP leader who knew about the sexually explicit messages but failed to act, Notes the Columbus Dispatch. LINK

Pennsylvania's Daily Item reports that Rep. Don Sherwood (R-PA) said "he felt Rep. Mark Foley, the Republican congressman who resigned last week amid allegations he sent lewd e-mails to teenage male pages, did properly leave his seat since he is accused of illegally soliciting a minor. However, Mr. Sherwood described his sexual affair as a 'mistake' and denied the woman's allegations that he assaulted her." LINK

Foley: profile:

The New York Times takes a look at Foley's "compartmentalized life." LINK

Foley: follow the money:

Many Republican candidates are returning some of the more than $700,000 dollars Mark Foley had contributed over the last 10 years. LINK

The NRCC continues to say that they will keep the Foley green.

Foley: op-eds and editorials:

The Washington Post's George Will describes Speaker Hastert telling Rush Limbaugh, "We have a story to tell, and the Democrats have -- in my view have -- put this thing forward to try to block us from telling the story. They're trying to put us on defense." Will paints Hastert's words as being "not just" a confession of "a coverup but also" a complaint "that the coverup was undone by bad manners. Were it not for Democrats' unsportsmanlike conduct in putting 'this thing' forward, it would not be known and would not be disrupting Republicans' storytelling." LINK

Will concludes -- a la James Carville -- that Democrats should go into another line of work if they can't retake the House in this climate.

Foley: FL-16:

Kevin Dale of the Herald Tribune writes that Democratic candidate Tim Mahoney avoided discussing Foley during a campaign stop in Charlotte County saying "'Actually, I am getting a little fatigued talking about it. . .'" LINK

Foley: legal:

"Although the Justice Department's inquiry is still defined as a preliminary investigation, the demand to preserve records and other moves by Justice investigators significantly increase the likelihood that prosecutors will soon open a full criminal investigation and bring the case before a grand jury, several officials said," reports the Washington Post. LINK

Richard Schmitt of the Los Angeles Times takes a closer look at the legal challenges for prosecutors in the Foley matter. LINK

Foley: Bush Administration agenda:

". . . the Mark Foley scandal is rendering that [presidential] megaphone practically useless, just as the president is trying to turn up the volume to help his party beat back Democratic efforts to take control of Congress this November," writes Jim Rutenberg of the NY Times. LINK

The Way to Win:

You have the power, Note readers. They say Oprah can make books, but so can you.

The Way to Win: Taking the White House in 2008, the new Random House book by Mark Halperin of ABC News and John F. Harris of the Washington Post, is now a top 100 book on Amazon in its first week of release. LINK

But if you are

-- a parent who wants John Harris' three beautiful children to be able to go to the college of their choice; or

-- a liberal who would like The Way to Win to pass Bill O'Reilly's book; or

-- a conservative who would like The Way to Win to overtake works by David Corn and Al Gore; or

-- an ironist who would like to see Halperin and Harris climb over authors such as Albom, Grisham, Chomsky, Ephron, Musharraf, and Steven King….

….Then now is your chance to buy a copy of The Way to Win and prove that Note readers can move the needle. LINK

The book is based on interviews about political strategy with Bill Clinton, Karl Rove, Dick Cheney, and many others, and includes extensive reporting on Hillary Clinton, Matt Drudge, Al Gore, John Kerry, and the other leading figures in today's world of presidential campaigns.

Buy copies here now before noon ET today and watch your cumulative efforts in action. (With apologies -- and homage -- to Joe Trippi.) LINK

The book has been featured on Good Morning America (watch the segment here under "BOOK EXCERPTS" LINK), Imus (LINK and LINK), and, tonight, on Charlie Rose. LINK

Publishers Weekly says about The Way to Win: "Though very topical, the book's comprehensiveness should make it a lasting piece of scholarship—an in-depth, indefatigable examination of American media and politics at the turn of the millennium." LINK

The dispassionate Chris Cillizza of the Washington Post seems to like it to. LINK

And the Post has an excerpt from the book. LINK

If you missed Halperin and Harris on NPR's Fresh Air, you can hear them here. LINK

Halperin and Harris appear to be everywhere promoting their book.

Today's appearances include Halperin at noon at the Makor/Steinhardt Center of the 92nd Street Y at noon at 35 W. 67th Street in Manhattan and both gentlemen on Lou Dobb Tonight on CNN around 6:30 pm ET. LINK

At the latter appearance, don't mishear: the two authors won't be saying "boooo" -- they will be saying "Looooouuuu."

2006: landscape:

Adam Reilly of the Boston Phoenix wonders what kind of October Surprise Karl Rove may have up his sleeve. LINK

2006: House:

Here are a bunch of House race poll numbers for you, but they are Zogby numbers so many of you will take them with a grain of salt. LINK

Bloomberg News' Litvan wonders if Rep. Heather Wilson's (R-NM) independent voting streak might be enough to maintain her support from moderates despite the current public disaffection with President Bush and his party. LINK

Chuck Muth, the former executive director of the Nevada Republican Party, writes that former Reid spokeswoman Tessa Hafen, a Democratic candidate for Congress against Jon Porter, "may be 'green,' but she's tough, holding her own in a vicious and increasingly petty campaign. Venturing into territory usually avoided by seasoned campaign pros, Ms. Hafen (and Mr. Reid) has raised questions about Mr. Porter's marital woes (he's recently divorced, for the second time). The Porter campaign has responded in kind, focusing on the dubious issue of Ms. Hafen's residency. Her eight years in Washington, they impute, makes her a feckless carpetbagger (despite being born and raised in the district)."

The Herald-Tribune reports that Vice President Dick Cheney plans to visit Sarasota, FL on Friday to campaign for congressional candidate Vern Buchanan for the seat being vacated by Senate candidate Rep. Katherine Harris (R-FL). LINK

2006: Senate:

"The national Democratic Party has scaled back by $1 million the support it had planned to provide for U.S. Senate candidate Jim Pederson's effort to defeat Republican Sen. Jon Kyl," writes the Arizona Republic's Kamman. LINK

The Cleveland Plain Dealer's Koff Notes Rep. Sherrod Brown (D-OH) is making an issue of Sen. DeWine's attendance record at public hearings of the Senate Intelligence Committee. LINK

Sen. Ted Kennedy doesn't seem to think Sen. Joe Lieberman is a JFK Democrat when it comes to his position on Iraq. The Massachusetts Senator was in Connecticut campaigning with Ned Lamont yesterday. The Hartford Courant has the story. LINK

2006: Governor:

The Washington Post's David Broder predicts that "starry-eyed Democrats across the nation" are going to be clamoring for Deval Patrick if he wins the Massachusetts governorship. LINK

After being question by the Boston Globe over his involvement in a campaign to free a convicted rapist, Deval Patrick has admitted that in 2001 he did indeed make a financial contribution to help pay for a DNA test of an inmate he hoped would be released from prison. LINK

As for Patrick's opponent, Massachusetts Lt. Gov. Kerry Healey, today's Boston Herald's headlines reads: "Cop killer got state house duties: 'Tough on crime' Healey/Romney administration doled work to violent criminals." LINK

The Columbus Dispatch reports that gubernatorial candidate Ted Strickland (D-OH) swamped his Republican opponent, Ken Blackwell, in fundraising with a 2-to-1 ratio during the month of September. LINK

The Cincinnati Enquirer's Wilkinson writes that Blackwell and Strickland got personal in last night's debate on the Ohio economy. LINK

Michigan Democrats continue to try to turn up the heat on Dick DeVos' failure to completely disclose all of his finances, but as the Detroit News reports, Michigan is one of three states without any financial disclosure law. LINK

The Detroit News' Josar reports that Muhammad Ali endorsed Gov. Jennifer Granholm (D-MI) because of her support for stem cell research. LINK

Angela Couloumbis reports in the Philadelphia Inquirer that Lynn Swann (R-PA) accused Gov. Ed Rendell (D-PA) of reneging on his 2002 promises during their debate. Rendell responded by saying "Well, Lynn, you'll learn that the people of Pennsylvania don't elect you king." LINK

And Rendell's use of Notes during the debate is causing a kerfuffle.

2008: Republicans:

Roll Call's Emily Pierce reports that Sen. McCain "has been meeting quietly for the past several months with a group of Republican Senate supporters to plot campaign strategy and build a wider base of support among influential party figures."

Kathleen Gray of the Detroit Free Press writes that former Mayor Rudy Giuliani "seemed as interested in the home-run distances at Comerica Park, where his New York Yankees will play the Detroit Tigers on Friday, as he was in the campaign of U.S. Senate candidate Mike Bouchard." LINK

2008: Democrats:

A new Quinnipiac University poll out today shows Sen. Hillary Clinton trouncing her Republican opponent John Spencer 66 to 31 percent among likely voters. The poll also shows Clinton with a 65 percent approval rating, matching her all time high in Quinnipiac's polling.

The Union Leader's Mike Kalil writes that while campaigning for state Democrats in New Hampshire, Sen. John Kerry (D-MA) spoke out against corruption in Congress saying, "I've never seen. . . more willful denial of a fundamental responsibility to heed the law and live by a certain standard. . . " LINK

Political potpourri:

Roll Call's Susan Davis profiles Rep. Tom Cole's (R-OK) bid to chair the NRCC next year.

With the 2006 voter registration deadlines quickly approaching, Rock the Vote announced yesterday that voters can now register to vote online through Facebook, which the group calls "the Internet's leading social utility."

R.W. Apple, Jr.:

Johnny Apple was one of the most inspirational figures in modern American political journalism. His bigger-than-life presence will be missed by everyone in the extended Note family.

Here are some of the best tributes to the Legend, starting with the best, from his friend Todd Purdum of the New York Times. LINK

The Washington Post: LINK

The Los Angeles Times: LINK

Associated Press: LINK

More schedule items:

Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) campaigns for Alabama Republicans in Birmingham, AL.

New Jersey Republican Senate candidate Tom Kean Jr. hosts a 1:30 pm ET roundtable discussion with Sen. Lamar Alexander (R-TN) to discuss globalization at the Gavan-Graham Electrical Products Corp. in Union, NJ.

At 1:45 pm ET Rudy Giuliani campaigns for Rep. David McSweeney (R-IL) at Chandler's in Schaumberg, IL. Giuliani first campaigned with Rep. McSweeney in June of 2006 in Chicago, IL.

Sen. Evan Bayh (D-IN) campaigns today with Democratic congressional candidate Joe Donnelly and Brad Ellsworth in La Porte, Mishawaka and Terre Haute, IN.

Sen. Hillary Clinton (D-NY) join Arnold Fisher at the Intrepid Sea, Air and Space Museum's "Salute to Freedom" gala at 6:45 pm ET in NY.

Gov. Mitt Romney makes an 11:15 am ET announcement regarding Homeland Security.

Republican National Committee (RNC) Chairman Ken Mehlman is campaigns for GOP congressional candidate Bill Sali at the Idaho Republican Party Headquarters in Boise, ID.

New York University's School of Law's Brennan Center for Justice had a 9:00 am ET scheduled briefing "Cast Out: New voter suppression strategies 2006 and beyond," at the Brennan Center in New York, NY.

The Center for American Progress holds their 2006 Progress Dinner in Washington, DC.

The CalTech/MIT Voting Technology Project presents the Voter Identification Registration Conference in Cambridge, MA.

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