News & Election Videos

August 19, 2008

Kagen's Rove Exaggerations

A new fundraising email for freshman Rep. Steve Kagen claims former White House political guru Karl Rove has the Wisconsin Democrat in his sights as the top GOP target for 2008. The only trouble is, Rove denies ever saying that, according to the Associated Press' Frederic Frommer.

Rove, who appeared at a Washington fundraiser for Kagen opponent John Gard and who included Kagen on a list of the twenty most vulnerable freshmen Democrats, doesn't recall singling out Kagen as the top target. National Republicans are confident in Gard, the former Speaker of the Badger State Assembly, who lost to Kagen by a slim 51%-49% margin in 2006.

National Republicans do see Kagen as vulnerable, but House watchers consider other seats a higher priority and of greater likelihood of flipping.

It's not the first time Kagen has invited controversy with his exaggerations, either. Shortly after winning election, Kagen attended a White House reception at which, he later claimed to constituents, he confronted Rove and Vice President Dick Cheney while intentionally referring to Laura Bush as Barbara. Kagen told the same stories to several local media outlets, all of which the White House denied happened.

Kagen also put his foot in his mouth for apologizing he was late because he was running on "Injun time," a comment for which he apologized and was forgiven by area Native American tribes.

Gard, on the other hand, is a polished campaigner who many Republicans think is one of the party's strongest challengers this year. While one made-up story for political purposes is not going to cost Kagen his seat, it could fit a pattern with constituents of a brash, confident member of Congress with a serious chip on his shoulder.