'Dear Katherine' Letter Failed to Dissuade Harris

By Zachary A. Goldfarb
Tuesday, August 1, 2006

Nearly three months ago, the Florida Republican Party told Senate candidate Katherine Harris she wouldn't win the election and the party wouldn't support her.

"Katherine, though it causes us much anguish, we have determined that your campaign faces irreparable damage," said a May 7 letter to Harris obtained by the Associated Press. "We feel that we have no other choice but to revoke our support."

The confidential letter, signed by the party chairman, Carole Jean Jordan, and national committee members Sharon Day and Paul Senft, was sent a day before Harris, who is in the U.S. House, filed to run.

Republicans had tried to get a stronger candidate to replace Harris, but no candidate would agree to run and Harris refused to get out of the race. She currently trails Sen. Bill Nelson, the Democratic incumbent, by double digits in the polls. She faces several challengers in a GOP primary but is leading them by large margins.

"The polls tell us that no matter how you run this race, you will not be successful in beating Bill Nelson, who would otherwise be a vulnerable incumbent if forced to face a stronger candidate," the letter said.

In a statement yesterday, Harris called the letter "old news" and said that Jordan had never expressed concerns about her campaign.

In her own statement yesterday, Jordan said "our concerns about the race and the nominee's ability to knock off Bill Nelson still exist."

Kerry Renews Call for Universal Health Care

Sen. John F. Kerry (D-Mass.) yesterday renewed proposals from his 2004 presidential bid for expanding health insurance to all Americans.

"The health-care crisis has grown steadily worse," he said in a speech in Boston.

Kerry, who is considering another run for president in 2008, said the government should require all Americans to have health insurance by 2012, "with the federal government guaranteeing they have the means to afford it."

Kerry said his proposal could be paid for by repealing tax cuts pushed by the Bush administration for people who earn more than $200,000.

"It is time to jump-start a debate around the country that can shake Washington into action before the health-care crisis devastates millions more of America's families," Kerry said. "We can no longer accept a 20th-century health-care system for a 21st-century economy."

The senator said Medicaid, the insurance program for the nation's poor, could be expanded to cover all low-income children, while states could insure higher-income children. He also said the government should help pay insurance costs when they are so high that employers would have to pass them on to their employees, and suggested that the insurance program for federal workers should be open to all Americans.

Romney's Questionable Word Choice

Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney (R) is in hot water after describing the Big Dig, the massive Boston highway construction project he took control of recently after a tunnel ceiling collapsed and killed a motorist, as a "tar baby."

Romney used the term -- which some consider a racial epithet -- during a fundraiser with Republicans in Iowa on Saturday. "The best thing politically would be to stay as far away from that tar baby as I can," he told supporters in Ames.

Black Republicans criticized the governor's use of the term. " 'Tar baby' is a totally inappropriate phrase in the 21st century," said Larry Jones, a black Republican and civil rights activist, according to the Associated Press.

A Romney spokesman told the news agency that the governor was "unaware that some people find the term objectionable and he's sorry if anyone's offended."

© 2006 The Washington Post Company