The Foley Fallout: Republicans on Damage Control

Voters could be turned off if they believe Democrats are trying to make political hay out of such a sensitive issue.

Rep. Marsha Blackburn, R-Tenn., said the Foley scandal is "revolting," but she told ABC News that Democrats would make a mistake by trying to capitalize on it.

All that may be true, but Stephen Hess of the nonpartisan Brookings Institution said the Foley affair is still "very bad news for Republicans."

It came, he noted, just as they were starting to make a comeback in the polls.

Gas prices were dropping, which is always good news for the party in power.

And President Bush's vigorous defense of his Iraq and national security policies seemed to have had some success.

Then the GOP got hit with a one-two punch.

First, a leaked National Intelligence Estimate and Bob Woodward's new book cast doubts on the administration's credibility and competence in dealing with Iraq and al Qaeda.

Then, the Foley scandal, which was "a kick in the stomach to Republicans," said Hess, especially because "they felt they were gaining momentum. Now they have lost the Big Mo."

Langer said the GOP still has time to regain momentum.

"After all," he said, "just a week or so ago the big issue was falling prices at the gas pump. Who knows what next week will bring?"

It's hard to imagine that next week could bring any worse news for Republicans.

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