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NRSC's Elizabeth Dole Dismisses Corruption Issue

Sen. Elizabeth Dole (R-N.C.) today dismissed concerns that congressional ethics issues could endanger the Republican Senate majority in 2006 and said her party is targeting a number of seats in Democratic-leaning states in the upcoming elections.

"This is a bipartisan problem that requires a bipartisan solution," said Dole of the current corruption furor, mimicking similar comments made lately by Republicans. GOP officials have noted repeatedly that the clients of lobbyist Jack Abramoff gave money to politicians of both partisan stripes. (Abramoff himself, however, only donated to GOPers.)

Dole said that while "ethics is going to be [Democrats'] issue in 2006," the National Republican Senatorial Committee's internal polling showed voters were not tuned into the issue and corruption was "not something that is going to get a lot of traction." Dole, who's heading the NRSC during the current cycle, briefed reporters this afternoon on the midterm election.

Democrats, no surprise, have an entirely different take.  A memo by  Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee Executive Director J.B. Poersch, circulated prior to Dole's briefing, pointed to a recent poll that showed voters gave Democrats a double-digit advantage when asked which party would do a better job of dealing with corruption in Washington. In the memo, Poersch called the current political atmosphere "one of the worst in decades for a majority party."

Dole sought to paint a far rosier picture, arguing that Republicans hold an edge over Democrats on the two key voting issues in November -- national security and the economy.  "The first issue Americans are concerned about is their safety and security," said Dole, adding that the recent revelations that President Bush had authorized the National Security Agency to wiretap American citizens as consistent with an effort the general populace. (In this, Dole was echoing a similar argument made by White House adviser Karl Rove last week.)

Many Democrats -- led by former Vice President Al Gore -- have condemned the NSA program and accused Bush of knowingly breaking the law. A Senate panel will investigate the matter next month.

On a race-by-race basis, Dole argued that Republicans were on "offense" heading toward November. She listed open seats in Maryland and Minnesota as well as Sens. Bob Menendez (N.J.), Maria Cantwell (Wash.) and Debbie Stabenow (Mich.) as examples of blue-state seats that are top targets for the NRSC. "The Democrats are going to have to spend money to defend [these seats] before they can take on any of our incumbents," said Dole. Republicans currently hold a five-seat Senate majority.

The focus on blue states is a relatively new talking point for Senate Republicans, who came into the 2006 cycle with their eyes on seats in North Dakota, Nebraska and Florida  -- all of which Bush carried in 2004.

Dole insisted that Nebraska and Florida would both be competitive in the fall -- although national Republicans failed to convince the preferred Republican candidate to run in each state.

The strangest moment in the briefing came when Dole was asked whether she was endorsing Rep. Katherine Harris, the lone Republican challenging Sen. Bill Nelson (D-Fla.).  Dole, whose committee spent months publicly recruiting an alternative to Harris, said that Harris is a "great" candidate who is "passionate" about running for Senate. "That's where we'll leave it," she added. Pressed on whether she was endorsing Harris, Dole repeated that Harris was a "strong" and "good" candidate but offered no formal backing.

By Chris Cillizza  |  January 23, 2006; 5:24 PM ET
Categories:  Republican Party , Senate  
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Posted by: John S | August 19, 2006 8:00 PM | Report abuse


Posted by: LIBERAL PATRIOT | February 3, 2006 10:46 AM | Report abuse

Where have American Statesman gone? It is a sad day for American when all we have left are Money grubbing Corrupt Politicians. The Nation cries out for leadership by men of Vision & Integrity that believes in Duty, Honor, Country & service to the Nation! There can be no higher calling than Statesmanship & Service to ones country but there can be no lower calling than the Corrupt Money grubbing Politicians like we have now!

The Republican party is nothing but Lackeys & Servants to greedy Companies & Businesses & the Democrat Party is nothing but Servants & Lackeys to the Left Wing like the ACLU and other American Haters! Both Parties would sell their first born for money & both are selling this Country out for money!

Recent polls indicate Congress receives an 30% approval rating. What is surprising about that is how they did the ever get such high rating? Even worse Bush is in the 40,s either he or they deserve rating that high most don't even deserve a job and sure not approval. In fact, if terrorist do cross our open borders they would be doing American a great favor if they wiped out about 90% of the Corrupt Nest of Vipers in Washington DC.

There is no Political Party to represent the vast Majority of American that are in the middle and that are either Left or Right Wing & only want a decent honest government working together for Americans & quite Pandering to either the Right or Left Wing of their parties.

Both Parties are supporting an Illegal Invasion by Mexico and Latin American countries, in fact, anyone in the world that wants to can cross unprotected Southern Borders including Terrorist with WMD! Now there are more and more reports of the Mexican Army providing protection for Drug dealers crossing our borders!

Poll after National Poll indicates over 80 percent of Americans want our borders closed to Illegal Aliens, Drugs and Terrorist & do not want rewarding people coming here Illegally taking American jobs while sucking at the Tough of Public Welfare & costing tax payers 100 of Billions of dollars while lowing our Standard of living by another 200 billion per year & increasing!

But our corrupt out-of-control politicians could care less what American Citizens want! They think as long as they get the money we have no choice but to vote for one or the other. In other words our choices are always between bad and worse!

I for one will no longer be a member of the Republican Party. I though know President could possibly be worse then Jimmy Carter in my life time but President Bush wins hand down. He is without Doubt one of the most Stupid, Corrupt, Incompetent Presidents in American History!

I would urge all Americans Citizens to do as I am doing and change to independent, even if we do vote for the same political party as now it will make then quit taking our votes for a given & make them start listening to the voice of the people & shaping their polices for the middle instead of the nuts on the extreme wings!

Posted by: Rod Burns | January 25, 2006 7:46 PM | Report abuse

I wonder why Elizabeth Dole gets such a free pass when Hillary Clinton does not. The GOP has constantly put out there that Clinton doesn't care about NY, she only wants to be president, she's bad, bad, bad. Yet, Dole gets none of this attention. She also benefited from her husband's coattails, she had not lived in NC in years (since bob dole didn't live in Kansas either, I guess that is okay) but the GOP trashes Clinton for the exact same things that Dole has done. Even rewards her with this national post in the senate. If that is not the definition of hypocrite, I don't know what is.

Posted by: jenniferm | January 25, 2006 10:17 AM | Report abuse

No one in North Carolina can think of any thing Elizabeth Dole has done for the people of this state except to be fooled to vote for her. I remember she did come down one time to shed alligator tears at a big textile plant closing.

Posted by: Emily | January 24, 2006 8:39 PM | Report abuse

If Senator Dole really doesn't think the ethics problems have any traction, why did she send out an e-mail on ethics on behalf of the NRSC yesterday? She tried to nitpick some Dems (Reid, Menendez), and seemed to be trying to downplay the ethics story while using it to throw manufactured mud. I guess the issue must have some traction if the NRSC is wasting time twisting it to help their fundraising.

This type of garbage is dangerous and false (and also shows why so many got upset at deborah Howell's column the other day - if asked, the NRSC will probably point to her column as factual support for the assertion in this letter about Abramoff's so-called contributions to Dem campaigns):

"And what sort of pay-to-play system are they talking about? The kind that saw a former Senate Minority Leader Reid (D-NV) staffer hired by Jack Abramoff's lobbying firm? Or perhaps the kind that saw 40 of the 45 sitting Democrat Senators receives funds from Jack Abramoff associates or clients? Or perhaps the kind that saw that same indicted lobbyist and his cronies channel more than $1 million to Democrat national campaign committees?" (from the e-mail)

Senator Dole should clarify her comments; it seems the ethics issues only have traction for opposition to Democrats, not Republicans. I hope the public proves her wrong come November.

Posted by: Puzzled | January 24, 2006 12:51 PM | Report abuse

The comment that grabbed me was when she said that Republicans are leading in the area of the economy. I was under the impression that last election until now all the polls say that people beleive that Democrats are better prepared to help our economy. I hope that the democrats learn to start hitting on this point hard, we are running record deficits and the republicans aren't doing a thing about it. People vote their pocketbooks especially in midterm elections. The security issue is only a big card when the president runs. Howard Dean if you are out there start hitting the stump now on this topic. It will pay tremendous dividends in 9 months.

Posted by: Andy R | January 24, 2006 10:19 AM | Report abuse

What people like Dole fail to understand is that corruption, arrogance and incompetence go hand in hand, and all undermine national security. The Republicans can bleat on about national security all they want, but their own mismanagement of Iraq has left the nation far weaker than it would have been had the Administration actually given some thought to reconstruction and fighting a potential insurgency. With Iraq in flames and Iran given precious time to fulfill its nuclear ambitions while we were bogged down in Iraq, the Republicans have no national security card to play.

Posted by: Elrod | January 24, 2006 9:46 AM | Report abuse

Liddy Dole has never been anything BUT a (Republican)party hack, going all the way back to her days as head of the Red Cross, which she managed to nearly destroy as an effective agency to help those in distress or dire need.
As a US Senator from NC, who hasn't actually LIVED in NC for decades, she is the very antithesis of the notion of "representative government". As a former NC resident, I am still quite baffled by the fact that she and the Repugnican propaganda machine were able to bamboozle the voters of NC into thinking she would represent their interests/concerns. OUT WITH HER, and the rest of these toadies!

Posted by: gjohnson | January 24, 2006 9:45 AM | Report abuse

I totally agree, as a Dem. I quicker vote for McCain than that two face sen. Rick Santorum.
Which the people in his state can really open there eyes and see him for who he is.He was so friendly with the administration in the past. everything bush did he agrees.. Now he's up to reelection is sing a different tune.he's so deceptive.
I wish there can be more honest senators like McCain.But it seem like he will never been president because he's not dishonest and religiously right for the South.

Posted by: Brent | January 24, 2006 9:09 AM | Report abuse

Lis Dole is just part of the Fascists Disinformation Machine. The Democrats made me do it. Wow, is that all you Repugnants can come up with? I'm surprised they haven't blamed Abramoff on Clinton, Bill that is. It's coming I'm sure.

I wonder if everyone in the media is going to give her a pass and let this baloney stand unchallenged

Howell really surprised me too, like Miller from the NYT, but i know its really different, but the same tremd. No one is thinking internationally about our image and image is a lot. Shows how cluelessly provincial everyone's timing is in Washingon. DC is in a rut of thought, where are the smart people? The world is changing fundamentally and fast, we need to embrace it. DC is out of touch, no new ideas to grow abundance for all, just fear and loathing. Maybe Bush has an unwritten law like with his Bike Riding, no goes faster than the Pres. Maybe this applies to intellect too. No one is allowed to be smarter than the President, now there is a scarey thought.

Besides a very inaccurate editorial point of view Howell also forget to discuss how the K street lobbists pay the media for biased pro-industry talking point stories without tell us why they are writing these stories the way the are.


ALSO: If Bush as nothing to hid why is he hidding everything. You hear this from the pro-NSA wiretap crowd: If you have nothing to hid, there should be no problem with the kind old government NSA spy-boys from listening to you talk about your latest case of the clap.

But does that same rational apply to Bush?
So far, NO. Why not? Because no one is pointing out the Bush adminstration is talking out of both sides of its mouth at once on this issue. Bush wants use to trust him. Ya, sure. Everytime someone says "trust me" to me the RED FLAGS GO UP.

If it has nothing to hid, lets see the records and final out once and for all, was it just terrorist related (OK by me and the Democrats as long as we go through the proper process to ensure no abues) or was it use for economic and political espionage, in which there are serious Constitutional and criminal activity concerns.

Posted by: Dr Murray | January 24, 2006 8:56 AM | Report abuse

Rick Santorum leading the ethics charge is like Hugh Hefner becoming a priest.How is he going to win re-election with no abortion issue? He will show himself standing next to John McCain a million times. One problem! He disagrees with McCain on all the big issues.McCain is honest and Santorum isn't.

Posted by: Paul Hughes | January 24, 2006 8:29 AM | Report abuse

Rick Santorum leading the ethics charge is like Hugh Hefner becoming a priest.How is he going to win re-election with no abortion issue? He will show himself standing next to John McCain a million times. One problem! He disagrees with McCain on all the big issues.McCain is honest and Santorum isn't.

Posted by: Paul Hughes | January 24, 2006 8:28 AM | Report abuse

And Dole thought she could be president. She ran the Red Cross into the ground. FRom reports I hear, she has fallen out of favor with many in North Carolina as she is not tending to the constituants rather seems focused on National matters. However, I dont live in NC so what do I realy know.

Notice what is missing: No mention of Santorum, Dewine, or Chafee being under seige or Burns or other Abraham connections

What happens next when more revelations break about Abramoff.

Add to this point, new Post story that Bush Administation was given report on Katrina two days before it hit and yet Bush feigned ignorance that no one expected the levies to break. Yet the Homeland security report specifically detailed what was most likely to happen and this report was sent to the situation room where it sat because Washington was all on vacation. This fact when made public in NO will move some of the criticism away from LA governor and NO Major Nagrin If anything, it says to America, we dont take issues serious unless it is our enemy. Now if a critic of he administration had said something utowards about how unprepared FEMA was before katrina, they would have been ran out of town. So why doesnt the President admit that he blew it. Too busy chopping wood to worry about losing one of Americans top 25 cities to devastion. Pathetic isn't it.

Yet here ole Dole her self our characterizing the GOP as the party for the people. WHich people, the top 1%, Yet dont evern bother planning to help salvage black communities. One does not need to be a liberal to see the racial overtures.

I can not personally vouch for this, but a story was told to me fourth hand that Ann Coulter in the company of Bill O' Reilly, one of his producers and a prominent politican made the statement about how it was long overdue for New Orleans to recieve a good enema. And Bush says he is not a racist. You dont have to say racist jokes or even laugh as racist jokes to be a racist. A racist comes in the form of derpiving minorites of their civil liberties (government justic department approving the license requirement; no to less than decent response in to Katrina, opposition to any form of affirmative action. Pressing for a gay marriage ban. What this says is this. the GOP is a white, male demonint party that is insentitive to minority needs. Lets get rid of the whp damn bunch in 2006. It long over due.

Posted by: db | January 24, 2006 1:03 AM | Report abuse

As the head of the Republican Senate Campaign Committee,Dole will lose tremendous prestige and influence this November. Schumer of New York is very off putting but because he's directing the Democrats Senate campaign, he will benefit and receive much credit and clout within the Democratic caucus.

Dole, by her dismissive tone about Abramoff comes off as condescending and illustrates that she is just another Brezhnev Republican.

Posted by: Intrepid Liberal | January 23, 2006 9:19 PM | Report abuse

Let the politicians be dismissive of corruption in their ranks. The people will be dismissive of the politicians come election time.
If Senator Dole wants to play an ostrich act when it comes to corruption in the ranks of her own party, let her dig her own grave. This corruption issue will cut into the national security issue and bring into question how seriously the Republicans are about the War On Terror if they've allowed corruption to bloom like this under their watch.
The corruption within the GOP is going to demoralize their base, strengthen their opposition, and lose them the swing vote. Most seats up for grabs are going to go to the Democrats. Katrina was going to give a big boost to the Dems anyway; Now this Abramoff corruption scandal seals the deal. It's all the GOP's fault; They've been in charge and they let corruption run rampant. Govern badly, and you lose elections. That simple.

Posted by: ErrinF | January 23, 2006 8:51 PM | Report abuse

Speaking as one of Sen Dole's constituents, I wonder if she is able to say anything that veers even slightly from RNC talking points. Melman says it one day, Dole says it the next. I'm not a Republican, but at least our other Senator, Burr (R), seems to be able to come up with his own points of view.

Posted by: adam | January 23, 2006 6:38 PM | Report abuse

Republicans can barely pull in a lousy 30% against Stabenow, a blue state with 2 Democrat Senators and a Democrat Governor. Dole is dreaming if she thinks Stabenow is in trouble.

I am also curious as to what happened to the "rule of law" that Dole touted continuously when they impeached Clinton for his blowjob.

Posted by: Monica | January 23, 2006 6:10 PM | Report abuse

Dole's comments come across more like a pep talk to make repubs feel less lousy about themselves and their tenous futures. These scandals are republican scandals because they control every branch of the corrupt national goverement. I wouldn't be surprised to see them lose control of both houses of congress. Time for a change as absolute power corrupts absolutely and this is the best example we have seen since Nixon.

Posted by: Mike | January 23, 2006 5:50 PM | Report abuse

Repubs (especially Sen Dole) will stop smiling when the Dems hold all current Senate seats (including the open Minn & Maryland seats) while picking up five Repub. seats ( Penn. R.I. Ohio Mont. & Missouri) resulting in a 50/50 Senate.

Posted by: Peter L. | January 23, 2006 5:41 PM | Report abuse

ummmm, Chris, why do the Repubs have more money? It's obvious. Jack was a good republican soldier, that's why.

George Bush AND Elizabeth Dole are in deep denial, I say.

And as for the native americans? The "good" indians refuse to take Conrad Burns'(R-MT) slice of the pie ( - but who is their spokesperson - who is helping them with damage control in public? What about the tribes that do not run a casino faction or those not involved in infighting?

Aldo Ray

Posted by: Aldo Ray, APR | January 23, 2006 5:41 PM | Report abuse

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