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Insider Interview: Nevada's Paul Adams

When Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid called President Bush a "liar" and a "loser" last spring, Paul Adams sprang into action.

He started a website called "Reid's Retchings", hoping to make it a clearinghouse for comments made by the Nevada Senator that Adams believed were not getting enough attention from the media. "I was pissed," recalls Adams, the chairman of Nevada's Republican Party. "I thought it was completely inappropriate to say that on the national stage especially in a time of war."

"Reid's Retchings" soon became "The Reid World" a compendium of Reid comments and commentary maintained by Adams and sponsored by the Republican Party. Adams makes no apologies for his coordination with the Republican National Committee and the National Republican Senatorial Committee -- both of whom supply him with occasional material and research. The goal? "An erosion of his stature," said Adams. "Long term we'd like to knock him off and put a good Republican in there."

Welcome to the Daschle-ization of Harry Reid -- Nevada style. Long before Senate Minority Leader Tom Daschle (D) stood for re-election in 2004, Republicans used a coordinated effort on the state and national level to paint him as out-of-step with the conservative-minded electorate of South Dakota. Although Daschle and his operatives insisted that South Dakotans knew partisan rhetoric when they heard it, the drumbeat damaged the incumbent. He lost a bid for a fourth term in November 2004 to Sen. John Thune (R).

In the hours following Daschle's defeat, Reid quickly lined up the necessary support to become Minority Leader -- and immediately became the new favorite target for Republicans. While no serious Republican appears to be readying a bid against Reid in 2010, GOPers hope to soften the Nevada Democrat's numbers enough to entice someone to do so down the road.

Adams is an unlikely foil for the ultra-political Reid, who has been running office or serving in office for more than three decades. Prior to being elected party chairman in late 2004, Adams had never been seriously involved in politics. Adams spent his formative years in the military, graduating from West Point in 1976 and then going on to a career as an Army lawyer. He left the military in the mid 1980s and went to work for a law firm in California. Adams came to Nevada just four years ago (the rule not the exception in the fastest-growing state in the country) and served as chairman of the state's Veterans for Bush group in 2004.

Following that election the job of state party chairman was seen as something less than a political plum. "I had a lot of people say 'You don't want to get involved in this,'" recounts Adams. "I looked at it as a challenge."

And a challenge it has been. Hearing criticism that the state party had ignored down-ballot races in 2004, Adams huddled with the state Assembly Republicans in hopes of better coordinating their efforts. He also spent time with Sen. John Ensign (R), who is up for re-election to a second term this November, as well as Rep. Jon Porter (R), a regular Democratic target in the Nevada's 3rd U.S. House district. After those conversations he went to donors to make clear that he had a plan to keep the state party active throughout the two-year cycle as opposed to just the few months before an election. "That will work in most states but not in one where you get 5,000 new people a month," said Adams.

That strategy has delivered mixed results -- at best.

On the candidate recruitment front, Adams admits that his efforts have been complicated by two surprise retirements. The first came in mid-March when state Attorney General George Chanos, who has been appointed to the position by Republican Gov. Kenny Guinn, shocked the political world by announcing he would not seek a full term. That move left the party in a lurch and no top-tier candidate stepped forward, leaving former prosecutor Catherine Cortez Masto (D) as the heavy favorite in the fall.

Then just days before the May 12 filing deadline Clark County Sheriff Bill Young (R) decided not to run again despite having a war chest of more than $900,000 and no significant opposition. According to Jon Ralston, Nevada's leading political reporter, 14 of the 26 Democrats in the state Assembly face no opposition and several others have only token opposition. Ralston notes, however, that the blame should not fall entirely on Adams' shoulders as the GOP leaders in the state Assembly did little to help.

The party has also struggled to raise money -- perhaps because Adams did not come into the job with the political connections that most state party chairmen enjoy. In 2005 the state party raised just $50,000 and spent $56,000. Contrast that with the more than $900,000 raised by the state Democrats.

Adams' chance at redemption this November is tied closely to his daily campaign against Reid. Reid has been heavily involved in the recruitment of Democratic candidates for three offices: attorney general, secretary of state and the 3rd district U.S. House seat. Reid is behind Cortez Masto for AG, Ross Miller -- the son of former Gov. Bob Miller -- for secretary of state and former staffer Tessa Hafen for the 3rd district.

"He's got three candidates, none of whom are qualified for office," said Adams. The online onslaught, Adams hopes, will make it more difficult for Reid to serve as a validator of those candidates in the minds of voters. The message boiled down? "Harry Reid is not who you think he is," said Adams. "Look at his track record, look at what he's said, don't just blindly support [him]."

Should Adams run the table against Reid's chosen candidates, his first two years would likely be seen as a success despite the setbacks. But should Reid help Democrats win all three races, Adams' days as chairman may be numbered.

By Chris Cillizza  |  June 26, 2006; 6:00 AM ET
Categories:  Insider Interview  
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I agree Andy. I think what Dean is doing will pay dividends to the democrats down the road. A strong Democratic base in every state will mean more electoral votes for Democratic presidential candidates. In Montana, the Democrats have ignored us nationally. The last candidate to visit the state was LBJ in 1964.

The national party has assumed Montana's electoral vites are permanent property of the REpublicans, yet we are a state that often gives local democrats big majorities in state-wide elections. I'm convinced that the same majority that elects Max Baucus to the Senate and Brian Schweitzer to the Governorship, can be persuaded to vote for a Democrat for president. But the national party has to show they care about the Montanas, North Dakotas etc. If the national Party puts on a serious campaign for Montana's votes, it will get them.
How important are Montana's three electoral votes? If Gore had them in 2000, the Florida debacle would be a small footnote in history and Gore would be in the middle of his second term.

Posted by: alan in missoula | July 1, 2006 12:52 PM | Report abuse

My vote of course is for Hillary Clinton (Girl Power). She flexed her muscle as the wife of President Clinton the best President since I could remember.

I have forgiven Vice President Gore for betraying Clinton. If push came to shove I'd vote for before I would vote for anyone that is serving in the W (for what is he talking about, what did he say, who, why) era.

Posted by: Anonymous | June 30, 2006 9:56 AM | Report abuse

At least with Hitler everyone knew they were dealing with a monster. I see there a still a few of you out there who believe George Bush and Dick Cheney have some sort of moral code and belief in this country. I stopped any such silly notions about two years into the first term. George Bush believes in nthing at all except for humself. He is the single greatest terror threat Amercia has today.

Posted by: Mike Brooks | June 26, 2006 6:28 PM | Report abuse

"Compared to what Dems have to offer right now, the general public may even prefer Hitler " - SandyK

I think this is the dumbest, most ignorant statement I have ever read on this post. SandyK yet again proves herself to be nothing more than a wingnut screamer.

Sandy, what are the Democrats proposing that is anything like Hitler or worse for that matter??

Are you saying Americans would prefer Nazi death camps, burning of books, experimenting on Jews, and totalitarian governemnt over implementing the 9/11 Commission reccomendations (checking 100% of incoming cargo, etc.), raising the minimum wage, having a timetable for withdrawing from Iraq, rolling back the Bush tax breaks for Big Oil and the wealthiest 1%, pay-as-you-go fiscal policies, and securing our borders and ports? Because those are a few of things Democrats are proposing, and I doubt any sane person (which does not include you) would choose Hitler over these proposals.

Posted by: Ohio guy | June 26, 2006 5:29 PM | Report abuse

Hitler? Please.

Also, WWIV? What happened to III? When I was learning to count, I remember 3 coming after 2 and before 4. Maybe it's just that Louisiana education...

Finally, where do you get off saying that the Dems are "giving the country away to terrorists?" There is a very bold line between fighting terrorism and infringing on the rights of every American. You want scare tactics? How about announcing the capture of 7 "terrorists" who planned to level Chicago, when they were really only as organized as a game of pickup basketball? How about announcing an arbitrary color to designate the level of threat of the day? How about more Republicans in the government? Ouch, that's scary...

It really isn't about having anything to hide. If we give up a little privacy here, a little freedom there, won't it all add up? I doubt it's so much that the government is watching us so closely. I think the biggest problem is that they did so without getting our approval. You're right, most of us would gladly allow the government to patrol our financial transactions if it meant catching a few terrorists. But I draw the line at infringing on our privacy.

One big argument is that terrorists will find other ways of getting the money if they know their bank accounts are being monitored. And? If any real terrorist is stupid enough to use his local Bank One to purchase massive quantities of C4 in an effort to bring down the "infidel," then our country is already safe. Please, your average American isn't stupid enough to believe that these financial trackers will work any more than the wire taps have. Bush-backers will say anything to keep even a semblance of composure. Face it, what the administration is doing is downright illegal, and it is only getting worse with every new bit of info that leaks.

Posted by: Jack in New Orleans | June 26, 2006 4:43 PM | Report abuse

>>>other nasty "in-your-face" terror tactics

You mean like Orange alerts? Or like "we'll fight them over there so we dont have to fight them here at home?" Or do you mean like, let's go to the poorest minorty neighborhood we can find and pick out a few brown people to indict who look scary to ignorant white folk?

If you really think that the USA would prefer Hitler to Dems, you are just as dangerous to Democracy in this country than any adversary of ours has ever been.

Posted by: FairAndBalanced? | June 26, 2006 3:56 PM | Report abuse

Mike Brooks wrote:
"This is all too much. I think the Bush White House has taken a page right out of Hitler's Germany and is intent on permanently taking over this government."

Compared to what Dems have to offer right now, the general public may even prefer Hitler (as at least he's predictable, a safer alternative to WWIV, and there's comfort in a lock down than giving away the country to terrorists).

Years ago a woman I met online I warned about revealing too much personal info online. Her response was, "I have nothing to hide." That's a mindset of a lot of folks who think that as long as they're not doing anything illegal they're safe. Most folks aren't into conspiracies, setup games and what not dirty people do. Because they don't they'll allow more privacy invasions -- and no amount of scare tactics will cause them to change their viewpoint (as they won't be tinfoil believers, and the "Sopranos" and "24" scenerios are just TV hijinx).

The only way to get the general public to wise up is when they're victims (like with identity theft, stalking and other nasty "in-your-face" terror tactics). Otherwise, Dems can beat the scare drum and no one will be around to hear it.


Posted by: SandyK | June 26, 2006 3:39 PM | Report abuse

the same thing will happen in Nevada that happened in New Hampshire. The flood of Californians and Oregonians will change its color to blue. Massachusettsians and Vermontians did the same thing to NH and are making Maine more blue as well.

Posted by: Rob Millette | June 26, 2006 3:38 PM | Report abuse

What would be truly hilarious is if somehow Jack Carter were able to upset John Ensign. On top of the three Nevada races already mentioned (AG, SoS and NV-03), this would be the final nail in this guy Adams' coffin. I'm not sure Harry wants Adams out of office, however. If he is truly as ineffective and incompetent as this post makes him out to be, Reid probably wants him to stay right where he is and continue his horrible fundraising and candidate recruitment. It's better for your opposition to waste all their time creating silly websites and condemning you when you speak the truth than actually being an effecive political force.

Posted by: Ohio guy | June 26, 2006 3:28 PM | Report abuse

Sorry, FH... It's just getting easier and easier for people of all stripes to see thru these shallow tactics. :)

Imho, Dean's 50-state strategy is paying off by hitting the GOP where it hurts most - right in the Red State.

Posted by: FairAndBalanced? | June 26, 2006 3:28 PM | Report abuse

"As a genuinely competetive state, Nevada should have strong, viable major-party candidates for every important office. A party chief who can't provide that is on a greasy waterslide out of town real quick."

Great post...couldn't agree more!!!

Where is KOZ when you need him...this seems like too much of a dem. love-fest.LOL

Posted by: FH | June 26, 2006 3:08 PM | Report abuse


How DARE Harry Reid call President Bush a liar and a loser!?!?

Waaaaahhhhh!!! (Stamping my feet and screaming and crying)

Where does Harry get such wild and crazy ideas!!??

What has Bush ever lied about? WMD's? - wsan't his fault - he was given faulty intelligence!! Iraq - 9/11 link? - don't you idiots know Saddam DID help plan 9/11? Needing a "court order" to wiretap your phones - ok he lied about that one but he's protecting you LIBURULS from the evildoers!!! Lying about listening to the generals on the ground who say we need more troops and now our presence is causing the violence in Iraq? - what do thos idiots know, Bush was in the Texas Air National Gaurd!! Oh, and speaking of the Gaurd, he din't lie about not using his father's connections to get into the Champagne Unit of the Air Gaurd, he got in even though there were hundreds if not thousands on the list ahead of him b/c he is so smart he blew all thos other losers away!!!


And calling Bush a loser?! Sure, he was AWOL from both the Air Gaurd and the Alabama National Gaurd, but that's b/c he had better things to do!! Starting failed oil businesses that lost his father and his father's friends in Saudi Arabia and the Carlisle Group millions of dollars?? - that dosen't mean he's a loser he just wasn't cut out for that type of thing. Getting into Harvaed Business School somehow even though he had a C- average at Yale? - he's not a loser who used his daddy, those admissions people at Harvard just recoignized his brilliance!!! As governor of Texas, running one of the worst states in the country in terms of education, graduation rates, pollution, and having one of the worst governor's records imaginable? - that dosen't make him a loser, it just showcases his brilliance b/c he was still able to steal the election in 2000!!


Harry Reid said things about Bush that everyone in the world knows are true but I'm going to act all upset and indignant b/c I'm a whiny baby!!!!


Posted by: Paul Adams | June 26, 2006 2:26 PM | Report abuse

Chris, to set the record straight, Reid took back the "loser" comment, but not "liar," which referred to Bush's failed pledge to let sound science govern Yucca Mountain (the proposed nuclear waste repository) policy. News of unoriginal, unfounded attacks on Reids is about as meaningful as Santorum's phony story on 15 year-old shells containing degraded residue of sarin.

Posted by: tailspinterry | June 26, 2006 2:23 PM | Report abuse

That's really funny what you say about Adams when he was in the military, "old friend"!!! Take a look at the guy's mug shot: He really does look like just another Karl Rove/Ralph Reed-style wimp who thinks he can turn himself into a real man by bashing political opponents. I bet if you threw sand in any one of these "men's" eyes, they'd actually cry. They know this about themselves, and they hate it, which is why they're so happy to play soldier by sending other real men off to die in war. Despicable.

Posted by: Brooklyn, New York | June 26, 2006 1:58 PM | Report abuse

Funny how the Republican's have nothing but hate and scaremongering to work with. Their so called Neo Conservative ideas turns out just like supply side economics...a voodoo of lies that helped the biggest re-allocation of wealth in US history taking from the poor and giving to the rich. never mind their moral corruption and emptiness of values.


I still love to gamble though in those casinos!

Posted by: Loki in Los Angeles | June 26, 2006 1:21 PM | Report abuse

This is TODAY's big story.

MN governor's race is now looking like a DEM pickup.

Former State Auditor Judi Dutcher will announce her return to politics Sunday as the running mate of DFL gubernatorial endorsee Mike Hatch, the state's two-term attorney general.

Rumors about the political pair have intensified since the DFL convention in Rochester, where Dutcher, a former Republican who unsuccessfully sought DFL endorsement for governor in 2002, showed up in support of Hatch. He has courted Dutcher publicly and privately for weeks to join his campaign as a candidate for lieutenant governor.

Sources close to Hatch confirmed the pairing Friday, but Dutcher and a Hatch campaign spokeswoman declined to speak for this article about their plans.

Hatch's campaign gave notice Friday of a "major announcement" scheduled for 3:30 p.m. Sunday at Hatch's Burnsville home. On Friday, it also was announced that Dutcher has resigned as president of the Minnesota Community Foundation.

The Hatch-Dutcher ticket is a potentially potent one for the DFL. The two telegenic politicians have track records as populist advocates. They also could make a volatile combination because both have strong personalities.

Both are proven vote-getters with wide name recognition from previous campaigns.

Posted by: Wells | June 26, 2006 1:08 PM | Report abuse

I think this shows how the chairman of state committee can have a pretty big influence on the general mood of thier party. It strengthens my feeling that Dean is on the right track of training and making sure the Dems have a strong state party presence in every state. If folks like this clown can get through in a purple state like Nevada, imagine who could get through in deep blue or red states. Scary.

Posted by: Andy R | June 26, 2006 1:07 PM | Report abuse

Adams seems like a d bag.

Posted by: Adams | June 26, 2006 1:00 PM | Report abuse

I applaud the washingtonpost for doing something about calls for violence. Such garbage is totally unnecessary and unwelcome.

I also applaud their restraint; I would've banned stream-of-consciousness-anonymous-poster months ago.

Keep up the good work Chris and WaPo.

Posted by: Will in Texas | June 26, 2006 12:37 PM | Report abuse

oops. PREVIEW not SUBMIT! Sorry, let me finish my thought!

When about 3/4 of the country thinks we are on the "wrong track" childish smears will only damage their cause.

Posted by: FairAndBalanced? | June 26, 2006 12:29 PM | Report abuse

>>> "Long term we'd like to knock him off and put a good Republican in there."

The GOP can HAVE the Minority Leadership. They better be careful what they wish for b/c they just might get it.

MB, I agree with you that smears are the GOP's main political tactic and that such rhetoric is are extreme and dangerous... but it doesnt work nearly as well when their policy agenda is completely off-target from the mainstream issues in the USA, as indicated in poll after poll. When about 3/4 of the country thinks we are on the "wrong track" childish smears will only

To the WaPo editor, thank you for eliminating despicable advocation for violence against members of the government. Such behavior is patently anti-American.

Posted by: FairAndBalanced? | June 26, 2006 12:26 PM | Report abuse

This post is most certainly not a "fluff" piece. IF, and that's a big "if," the Dems take the Senate in November, Harry Reid will be right there to step up as Senate Majority Leader. If, indeed, Adams is a contender for 2010, the Dems may not want to see their Majority Leader fall to a virtual rookie - it would be an embarrassment. For the sake of the Senate in general, let's just hope Adams is not a contender. He seems like a scumball, but that's just an outsider's observation. Chris, you're doing a great job. Keep it up; bored people at work like myself want to read more!

Posted by: Jack in New Orleans | June 26, 2006 12:19 PM | Report abuse

This is very dangerous stuff. The Busg Republica's appear to have discofvere3d that concerted smear campaigns, if done long enough, appear to work. It is straight out of Joseph Goebels writings on propaganda and I suspect, since a very serious student of his was Karl Rove, that Rove and the Whitehouse is behind all of this. Also disturbing, and *onnected*, is Rep. King, Attorney Generalisimo Gonzales, and the Whitehouse threats of legal action against newspapers who publish one of their illegal trawlings through the records of private citizens. Let's see, is was telephone records, and before that library, credit card purchases, health and employment records, internet records, chat room postings, even letter to the editor. Now, it's financial records. This is all too much. I think the Bush White House has taken a page right out of Hitler's Germany and is intent on permanently taking over this government. They are Nazi's, new Nazi's called "neocons", but Nazi's nonetheless. I'm a little sick of reading about their doing something simply outlandish, then ling about it, then claiming they are doing it in the nations interests, then claiming there are all sorts of protections to guard the privacy rights of ordinary citizens and, at the same time, threats for legal action against those who exposed their dirty little secret. Later, we all discover that their trolling is a lot mroe widespread and incidious than first published. By then, he press has moved on to the nexrt scandle, and it goes on and on and on. Chirs, dod you know that right his minute there is a government dwarf reading this forum and postings and identifying those doing the postings. Get the Post to use a "sniffer" and watch them!

Posted by: Mike Brooks | June 26, 2006 12:16 PM | Report abuse

Some comments posted over the weekend seemed to advocate violence toward members of Congress and other government officials. Those comments have been deleted and the commenter has been banned from posting on

We encourage robust political debate, but will not tolerate threats of violence toward anyone. Please do your part to keep the conversation within the appropriate realm of political debate.

Thank You,

-- Editors,

Posted by: Editors | June 26, 2006 12:14 PM | Report abuse


I agree with an earlier post. This story seems so irrelevent at this time and date. Are you soon to write about prospects for the 2012 Olympics. Saying that, Harry Reid is a master of Nevada politics and has gotten a pretty good hand in Washington as well. Navada politicians are not as partisan at home with gaming issues, nuclear waste issues, labor issues and others keeping most politicos on the same page.

As a person who spent many years in DC and Nevada politics and often see DC pundits mis-read state and local politics, I am afraid Chris that you have fallen into the same trap.

Leave the mastering to the masterful.

Posted by: Lawrence Frogg | June 26, 2006 11:42 AM | Report abuse

HAHA, that is hilarious. Thanks for sharing "old friend." I think it is a rather badly hidden secret that a large chunk of those who journey into politics are simply looking for redemption or approval through the biggest popularity contest they can find.

Harry Reid will be fine. He has actually shown some teeth which has endeared him to the base, unlike the meek Daschle.

Posted by: Mike W. | June 26, 2006 11:36 AM | Report abuse

I knew Adams when we served in the military together. Let's just say he wasn't the manliest soldier among all U.S. troops. More like someone who got bullied a lot in grade school trying to prove himself, however pathetically. Although I'm not very politically minded myself, I interpret the boy's latest move into that arena in a similar light. And I think it's hilarious.

Posted by: An old friend | June 26, 2006 11:25 AM | Report abuse

Disagree with Wells: I like change of pace pieces to break up the constant reasking and reanswering of the same questions. Endlessly redebating the same polls and press releases while waiting for the next wave of them is what makes campaigns seem so long.

As for the Nevada guy: he sounds like a complete amateur, and a particularly whiny one at that. As a genuinely competetive state, Nevada should have strong, viable major-party candidates for every important office. A party chief who can't provide that is on a greasy waterslide out of town real quick.

Posted by: Staley | June 26, 2006 10:44 AM | Report abuse

Sorry for my typos in last post--eek. What I thought was funny about this piece was 'Paul Adams sprang into action' --[sounds like a superhero, don't it?] --by starting a smear website. Really heroic. Just like all the rest of the Fighting Keyboardists of the Armchair General Chickenhawks Brigade out there.

Posted by: Drindl | June 26, 2006 10:36 AM | Report abuse

"Look at his track record, look at what he's said, DON'T JUST BLINDLY SUPPORT HIM"..hmmm at least gop'ers all have one thing in common there all hypocrites..isn't BLIND SUPPORT been the problem over the last 6 1/2 years? the repugs are so fast to rubber stamp and kow tow to all things Shrubya that checks and balances are a thing of the past..

Posted by: TheIrishCurse | June 26, 2006 10:21 AM | Report abuse


We are 4 months away from a national elections in November. And, Chris is writing a fluff story about Reid and Nevada in 2010 senate race. HELLO Chris, how about the election in 2006 in 4 months. Chris, stop planning your 4th July vactation and start writing some serious blogs.

Posted by: Wells | June 26, 2006 10:08 AM | Report abuse

'Adams is the Goebbels of Nevada politics' --agree with you there, except that's the entire modern republican party, ain't it?
Gutter politics and slimeball politicians?

Funny how sensitive they are to their president being called names in 'wartime'. We had troops in action during the Clinton administration too, and were just as much at 'war' --yet they trouble attacking Clinton constantl and trying to take him down. Why, I'd call it treason, myself.

Posted by: Drindl | June 26, 2006 9:56 AM | Report abuse

Sometimes chasing windmills is a good thing - one man's windmills is another man's attainable goal. while I have nothing but distain for the Republicans - a good fight is always interesting to watch

Oh, I point this out because even with great editors - none of us are perfect - imperfection is what makes us interesting.

"National Republican Senatorial Comittee"

should be two "M"S - Last week the Brownsville Herald had a headline "SEPERATION"

BObby Wightman-Cervantes

Posted by: Bobby Wightman-Cervantes | June 26, 2006 9:40 AM | Report abuse

I must agree with Andy R. Nevada is becoming a less red and more blue state. The large increase in Hispanics as well as the people moving from places like California only makes the state more of a tossup.

I think the GOP is wasting there time with Reid. Daschle only lost by 2% points in a state Bush carried by 22% points. In 2000, Bush won Nevada 50% to 46% while in 2004 it was only 50% to 48%. With Reid in position to bring considerable amounts of pork to the state as well as the fact that he and John Ensign have a non-agression pact, I think it is very unlikely for Reid to be knocked off.

Posted by: H.L. | June 26, 2006 8:45 AM | Report abuse

Adams is the Goebbels of Nevada politics.

Posted by: Intrepid Liberal Journal | June 26, 2006 7:59 AM | Report abuse

What you forgot to mention is that the majority of those 5000 new voters a month are making Nevada bluer and bluer everyday. Also Harry Reid could eat this guy for lunch. He is a political pro and probably has some way to use this clown to his advantage.

Also did anyone else see Mitch McConell say he wouldn't support Chafee as an independent, on This Week? Threw him under the bus if you ask me.

Posted by: Andy R | June 26, 2006 7:18 AM | Report abuse

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