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Leak Case: 2008 Dems Attack, Republicans Mum

Not surprisingly, a handful of Democratic senators contemplating the 2008 presidential race quickly sought to score political points off of Friday's indictment of I. Lewis "Scooter" Libby, while Republicans eyeing national office remained largely out of sight.

For Democrats, condemning Libby and the White House is a no-brainer. The Democratic base is lustily energized over the whiff of scandal among top administration officials.

"Today's indictment of the vice president's top aide and the continuing investigation of Karl Rove are evidence of White House corruption at the very highest levels, far from the 'honor and dignity' the president pledged to restore to Washington just five years ago," said Sen. John Kerry (D-Mass.).

Sen. Joe Biden (D-Del.) used his statement to wonder whether the indictment of Libby would damage the United States standing in the world. "America faces enormous challenges at home and abroad, and I worry that the credibility of the Office of the President is diminished at this critical time when we need it most," he said.

Similarly, Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton (D-N.Y.) said that indictment of Libby "raises serious national security concerns."  She added, "Taking such action for political purposes is simply reprehensible and should never be tolerated."

Republicans' thoughts on the indictment were few and far between. Sen. Chuck Hagel (R-Neb.) was in western Nebraska with Japanese Ambassador Ryozo Kato and unreachable at press time, his office said.  Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) was on a plane.  Neither Sens. Bill Frist (R-Tenn.) nor George Allen (R-Va.) has put out a statement on the matter as of 4 p.m. ET Friday.

Vice President Dick Cheney issued a short statement about the indictment, saying, "Scooter Libby is one of the most capable and talented individuals I have ever known. He has given many years of his life to public service and has served our nation tirelessly and with great distinction. In our system of government an accused person is presumed innocent until a contrary finding is made by a jury after an opportunity to answer the charges and a full airing of the facts. Mr. Libby is entitled to that opportunity."

President Bush, in a statement before heading to Camp David for the weekend, praised Libby's past service before sounding a similar note, "Special Counsel Fitzgerald's investigation and ongoing legal proceedings are serious. And now the proceedings -- the process moves into a new phase. In our system, each individual is presumed innocent and entitled to due process and a fair trial."

By Chris Cillizza  |  October 28, 2005; 4:28 PM ET
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