Neither candidate’s averse to this offshoring

Al Kamen
Columnist October 10, 2012

The quest for campaign cash knows no shame — and no borders. The camps of both President Obama and his Republican challenger, Mitt Romney, are holding fundraisers abroad as the days before the election dwindle.

Obama’s campaign is tapping his roots at an Oct. 14 reception for U.S. citizens in Dublin (that would be the one in Ireland, not Ohio). The president touted his Irish heritage during a trip to the Emerald Isle last year, during which he drank the local brew and joked that he had “come home to find the apostrophe” his family had lost somewhere in its history. (It’s worth noting that Obama’s Irish ancestor was born in the auspicious-sounding town of Moneygall.)

Al Kamen, an award-winning columnist on the national staff of The Washington Post, created the “In the Loop” column in 1993. View Archive

The Romney camp, too, is casting an international net to draw in dollars, by holding a series of fundraisers for U.S. citizens across Asia this month. According to an e-mail sent to potential attendees by former undersecretary of commerce and former U.S. ambassador to Singapore Frank Lavin , who’s volunteering on the fundraising front, there will be events in Beijing, Shanghai, Singapore, Thailand, Tokyo, Manila and Taipei as well as in South Korea.

We hear the events are a thousand bucks a head and are expected to bring in between $500,000 and $1 million. They were apparently inspired by the success the 2008 Obama campaign had in raising money in Asia.

Interesting that Romney, who’s been talking tough on China, is going into the belly of the beast in search of donations.

The gang’s all here

Wednesday’s hearing on Capitol Hill examining the attack on the U.S. post in Libya was a well-attended affair.

It’s not surprising that the audience was at capacity — after all, it’s been so quiet around Washington these past few weeks, and lobbyists have got to get those billable hours in somehow. But it’s interesting that so many members — more than 20, or nearly half the committee — took time off the campaign trail, leaving all those babies unkissed for now, all that the money unraised. Most of those attending were Republicans.

But the calculation must have been that it was worth it to take the time to come beat up on the administration for its handling of the attacks — the hearing was titled “The Security Failures of Benghazi.”

House Oversight and Investigations Chairman Darrell Issa was there, of course. So was Rep. Jason Chaffetz (R-Utah), who has also been campaigning of late for Romney. Both are in safe seats. Ditto many of the other attendees. Heck, some of the Republicans sitting in on the hearing aren’t even on the committee — they just didn’t want to miss out.

Even Rep. Scott DesJarlais put in an appearance, despite the scandal swirling around him that one might think would make him want to duck for cover. The Huffington Post reported Wednesday that the Tennessee Republican had urged his pregnant mistress to get an abortion.

DesJarlais is publicly anti­abortion, and the woman was his former patient — double uh-oh. (Our colleagues at the Fix report: “When asked for a comment on the Huffington Post story by the Fix, a DesJarlais spokesperson didn’t deny the report but wrote off the new development as old news.”)

Democratic attendance wasn’t as strong, with locals such as Rep. Elijah Cummings of Maryland, the District’s Del. Eleanor Holmes Norton and Rep. Gerry Connolly of Virginia in attendance, backed up by a few colleagues in safe districts farther afield.

Have a blast at the museum

Some details are trickling in about a bomb scare a week ago, when a suspicious crate was found at the Capital Gallery office building near L’Enfant Plaza — where the Smithsonian Institution leases several floors for office space.

The building was evacuated, we’re told, nearby streets were closed for a few hours, and Metro closed the Maryland Avenue SW/Seventh Street entrance to the L’Enfant Plaza station.

Seems the Smithsonian is putting on an exhibit in November at the Sackler Gallery of ancient art and artifacts from Saudi Arabia.

The Saudi museum that put the exhibit together may have provided samples of items it had sold in its gift shop in conjunction with the show — or a vendor may have sent some unsolicited samples.

The problem, apparently, was that the crate didn’t arrive at the office that was handling the exhibition, but rather at the Smithsonian office that runs the gift shops for the museums. Worse yet, the crate was, naturally, covered with Arabic script. Uh-oh.

Building security personnel were called. The security folks, our colleague Peter Hermann reports, then called in the D.C. police bomb squad. We’re told the squad detected wires among the contents of the crate. A spokesman said only that “miscellanous items, no hazardous material” were discovered.

The crate was safely exploded outside, near or on the loading dock. (So much for the lovely trinkets.)

All in a day’s work.

With Emily Heil

The blog: washingtonpost.com/
intheloop
. Twitter: @InTheLoopWP.

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