Cheney Makes Appearance for House Hopeful

Greg Davis could keep the seat in GOP hands.
Greg Davis could keep the seat in GOP hands. (Greg Jenson - AP)
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By Dan Eggen
Washington Post Staff Writer
Tuesday, May 13, 2008

SOUTHAVEN, Miss., May 12 -- Vice President Cheney traveled to this Memphis suburb on Monday in an eleventh-hour effort by the Republican Party to hang on to a U.S. House seat that it has long held but that appears at risk of becoming the third Democratic gain this year.

Cheney campaigned on behalf of Southaven Mayor Greg Davis ahead of a special election Tuesday in Mississippi's 1st District. He sought to tie Davis's opponent, Travis Childers, to Senate Majority Leader Harry M. Reid (Nev.), House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (Calif.) and other congressional Democrats.

"What we need in Washington is a strong conservative congressman from Mississippi, not another Democrat going to bat for Nancy Pelosi," Cheney said to a crowd of several hundred at the DeSoto Civic Center here.

That Cheney would travel so far for a special election underscores the extent of concern within GOP ranks over recent losses in districts long considered Republican strongholds and whether they portend bigger problems in November. Democrats won the Illinois seat vacated by former House speaker Dennis Hastert and, last week, a Louisiana seat that had been Republican since 1975.

Childers came within a few hundred votes of winning the seat outright in a special-election ballot in April. He and Davis are vying for the seat previously occupied by Roger Wicker, who was named to the U.S. Senate to replace Trent Lott, who retired.

Republicans have poured more than $1.3 million of scarce campaign money into the race, and Cheney's appearance was aimed at solidifying their portrayal of Childers as a closet liberal. In introducing Cheney, for example, Davis linked his opponent to Pelosi and Sens. John F. Kerry (D-Mass.) and Barack Obama (D-Ill.), calling them "liberals with liberal ideas who do not represent our Mississippi values."

Childers, Prentiss County's chancery clerk, who supports gun rights and is antiabortion, said Cheney's visit could backfire among "independent-minded" voters in his district.

"They run the same argument in every race, from president down to county commissioner," Childers said in a telephone interview. "I don't think it's going to work for them here in northwest Mississippi."

Republicans recently and unsuccessfully attempted a similar line of argument in Louisiana, deploying ads featuring Obama against Democrat Don Cazayoux, who won election to the House on May 3.

Davis spokesman Ted Prill said Cheney's visit will cost the Davis campaign about $30,000 but is expected to raise about $120,000.

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