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Specter Piles Up Lead in Tough Fight for Fifth Term

By Helen Dewar and Brian Faler
Monday, October 25, 2004; Page A06

After barely surviving an attack from the right within his party six months ago, Sen. Arlen Specter (R-Pa.) has amassed a substantial lead in polls as he heads into the final stretch of his long, difficult campaign for a fifth term.

Specter is leading his Democratic challenger, Rep. Joseph P. Hoeffel, 51 percent to 36 percent, with Constitution Party candidate Jim Clymer getting 6 percent, according to an Oct. 16-20 poll by Quinnipiac University in Connecticut. Most other independent polls have shown similar results.

But Hoeffel contends the race is tightening and will be even by Election Day. "It's narrowing; Democrats are coming home," he said in an interview.

Although he trails Specter in fundraising, Hoeffel said he expects to have enough money to increase his exposure by the Nov. 2 election. The Quinnipiac poll found that 53 percent of Pennsylvania voters do not know enough about Hoeffel to form an opinion of him. G. Terry Madonna, professor at Franklin & Marshall College and director of its Keystone Poll, said the fierce presidential battle in Pennsylvania has "drowned out everything else," making it difficult for a challenger to become known.

Specter, a senior member of the Senate Appropriations and Judiciary committees, has touted the benefits he brings to Pennsylvania as a senior lawmaker and has won important labor and other endorsements, while portraying Hoeffel as too liberal for the state. Specter defeated Rep. Pat Toomey (R) 51 to 49 percent in the April primary.

Those White House Links to Nothing

The Coalition of the Willing has disappeared.

The list of names of countries supporting the U.S.-led military action in Iraq has been removed from the White House Web site. Blogger Brad Friedman, who noticed the disappearance, believes this is part of a widespread "scrubbing" of documents on the government site. Gone are links to the audio and video of President Bush's statement that "I'm not that concerned" about Osama bin Laden, a Q&A when Bush said "misunderestimate" and Bush's acknowledgment that his decision making on stem cell policy was "unusually deliberative for my administration."

Jimmy Orr, who handles the content for the White House site, said nothing nefarious was intended. "We have some 80,000 pages and 3,000 video and audio links," he said. "When we republish pages and move files, some links are bound to go down, and there are bound to be dead pages." So staffers are "clicking on every single audio and video link on our site" to make sure they work.

As for the Coalition of the Willing? "This coalition list was dated and inaccurate," Orr said. He said another will be posted "as soon as we get a new one" -- without countries such as Costa Rica, which last month asked to be removed from the list.

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