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Partisan Ex-President, Democratic Discord

By Robert Novak


WASHINGTON -- More than just assailing the ABC and FOX networks, Bill Clinton is taking an unusually partisan stance for a former president with a fund-raising attack on the Republican "right-wing."

In a letter seeking $35 to $50 contributions to the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, Clinton charged that Republicans in Congress "exploit wedge issues that divide America, foster fear and promote insecurity." He concluded: "The right-wing will be coming after our candidates a lot harder than they've been coming after me."

The other living ex-presidents -- Gerald Ford, Jimmy Carter and George H.W. Bush -- have engaged in partisan activity but used less strident rhetoric than Clinton.


Rep. Rahm Emanuel, Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee (DCCC) chairman, is unhappy with the lack of support from the Democratic National Committee (DNC) under Chairman Howard Dean for seizing control of the House of Representatives in this year's elections.

Dean pledged just $2.4 million for 2006 House races, about one-tenth of what the DNC has given the DCCC in past campaigns. The Republican National Committee is expected by Election Day to spend at least $2.4 million in each of some 20 competitive House districts.

Dean defends de-emphasis on congressional races. "For the first time in decades," he said in a Sept. 19 e-mail to supporters, "we Democrats have a true 50-state operation on the ground." Dean attached a news report about his decision to organize precincts in heavily Republican Mississippi, though none of the state's four House districts nor the Senate race is competitive this year, and state offices will not be on the ballot until 2007.


George W. Bush moved a step closer to Democratic Sen. Joseph Lieberman's re-election bid in Connecticut as an independent candidate when Tom Kuhn, the president's college roommate and close friend, co-sponsored a Lieberman fund-raising luncheon Thursday in downtown Washington.

Kuhn, president of the Edison Electric Institute, raised more than $100,000 for Bush in the 2000 and 2004 presidential campaigns. Also among the Lieberman event's sponsors was Rick Shelby, a longtime Republican operative who currently is executive vice president of the American Gas Association.

The luncheon's sponsors pressed fellow Republican lobbyists to pay a minimum of $1,000 a ticket. Lieberman has announced he will stay in the Democratic caucus if re-elected. But Republicans backing him against antiwar candidate Ned Lamont, the Democratic nominee, hope for a change of heart by Lieberman.


Sen. Arlen Specter, chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, last Monday delivered an unusually candid assessment of the Senate's notoriously light work schedule.

In a National Press Club luncheon speech, Specter noted it was "very hard to convene a Monday morning hearing" because of extended weekends. He continued: "We've fallen into a routine . . . of starting our workweek Tuesday at 2:15 after we finish our caucus luncheons, and people start to get edgy and heading for the airports early on Thursday. So we might increase the workweek by 50 percent, say, to three days."

Realizing it was highly unusual for a senior senator to talk so frankly of the chamber's work habits, Specter quickly added with a smile: "By the way, that's off the record." The speech was broadcast live on C-SPAN.


In the late rush for 2006 campaign contributions, the Republican National Committee (RNC) is requesting big bucks to attend undefeated Nikolai ("Giant Russian") Valuev's World Boxing Association heavyweight championship title defense against New York's Monte ("Two Gunz") Barrett in Chicago next Saturday night.

A new $50,000 member of the RNC's Regents will receive four tickets to the fight at the Allstate Arena. A $25,000 member of Team 100 will get two tickets, and a $15,000 Eagle will be given one ticket.

The contributors also are invited to a pre-fight "VIP reception" featuring boxing promoter Don King, who in 2004 emerged as a strong supporter of George W. Bush.

Copyright 2006 Creators Syndicate

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