New Ad Tests the Strength of Palin's Coattails

Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton (D-N.Y.) attends a memorial service honoring the late Ohio representative Stephanie Tubbs Jones on Capitol Hill in Washington. Tubbs Jones was an ardent supporter of Clinton during the primaries.
Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton (D-N.Y.) attends a memorial service honoring the late Ohio representative Stephanie Tubbs Jones on Capitol Hill in Washington. Tubbs Jones was an ardent supporter of Clinton during the primaries. (By Manuel Balce Ceneta -- Associated Press)
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By Mary Ann Akers And Paul Kane
Thursday, September 11, 2008

Well, that didn't take long: Sarah Palin is now a big-time topic in down-ballot races.

State Rep. Jay Love, a Republican running in Alabama's 2nd Congressional District, hit the airwaves yesterday tightly allied with the vice presidential candidacy of the Alaska governor. Love, who is in a tight race against Montgomery Mayor Bobby Bright, hopes to tap into Palin's popularity after her well-received acceptance speech at the Republican National Convention in St. Paul.

"I couldn't wait to involve her in our campaign and publicly express my belief that she and Sen. McCain are the right people to lead this country. That is yet another difference between my opponent and me," Love said in a statement. He declared himself the first congressional candidate to use images of Palin in a campaign commercial.

The ad shows Palin standing with McCain (R-Ariz.), the GOP presidential nominee, with Love narrating: "I'm supporting pro-lifers John McCain and Sarah Palin. My opponent isn't."

But some Democrats hope to use Palin, who is very popular among conservatives, against Republicans in swing districts.

"There is nothing encouraging about Palin's extreme political views, including her opposition to a woman's right to choose even in the cases of incest and rape, equal pay for equal work, and gun control," wrote 75 female voters to Rep. Mark Steven Kirk (R-Ill.), a moderate facing a potentially tough reelection in Illinois. The women, many of whom supported Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton (D-N.Y.) in the Democratic presidential primary, accused Kirk of not "standing up for women in the 10th District."

"Your support for Sarah Palin shows that you are more concerned with supporting the Republican Party and continuing with more of the same disastrous policies of the last 8 years," the letter said.

Stay tuned for similar lines of attack in other congressional races.

Sept. 11 Remembrances

Just as the presidential campaign is coming to a halt today, Congress will stop its work for most of the morning to mark the seventh anniversary of the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001.

A bipartisan group of House and Senate leaders will gather shortly after 8 a.m. at the White House for a commemoration, followed by the dedication of the Sept. 11 memorial at the Pentagon. Shortly before noon, most members of Congress will gather on the West Front steps of the Capitol for a final tribute.

"We will remember those who were lost and remember those who not only were lost on 9/11 but have been lost as a consequence of that overseas," said House Majority Leader Steny H. Hoyer (D-Md.).

Lieberman's Lunch Bunch

In case you were wondering, Sen. Joseph I. Lieberman (I-Conn.) didn't dine alone Tuesday. On the first day of his self-imposed exile from the weekly Senate Democratic Caucus lunches, Lieberman joined Sen. John W. Warner (R-Va.) in giving a speech to the Pew Charitable Trusts about their stalled bill on climate change.

Given Lieberman's support of McCain, Lieberman has decided to avoid any more awkwardness by skipping the rest of the Democrats' caucus lunches this year.

His decision arose from a gentlemen's agreement with Senate Majority Leader Harry M. Reid (D-Nev.) early last year, according to Lieberman spokesman Marshall Wittman. At the time, Lieberman agreed not to attend meetings about Iraq policy. But now that the caucus meetings will almost surely include discussion of presidential politics, Lieberman, (who is still a registered Democrat), won't be sitting down to free lunches in the Senate's LBJ Room until after the election -- if then.

Democrats heaved a huge sigh of relief over Lieberman's decision, though none dared say so publicly, given the one-vote hold on power Lieberman gives them in the Senate. Reid made a point to say it was Lieberman's decision, not his. In the same breath, however, Reid mocked Lieberman's support of McCain and noted that the senator from Connecticut was too busy Tuesday to even return a phone call from the majority leader.

Republicans aren't saying how open their arms will be to Lieberman next year if Democrats strip him of all his committee assignments. But they sure are sending peace signals. Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.), whose party stands to lose a few seats in November and probably would take whatever additions it could get, called Lieberman "quite courageous" for backing McCain so publicly.

We're thinking the courageous senator is praying that McCain wins and gives him a plum post as a Cabinet secretary.

New Horizons

Meanwhile, Lieberman's legislative director, Joe Goffman, announced his resignation this week in an e-mail to other Senate aides. Goffman was effusive in his praise of Lieberman, saying, "The senator, my colleagues on his staff and all of you have granted me an extraordinarily precious experience that I will treasure for the rest of my life."

Goffman has no job lined up yet. He'll leave on Sept. 30, at the end of this session of Congress. Asked whether his departure had anything to do with Lieberman's support of McCain, Goffman told On the Hill: "My plans have absolutely nothing to do with politics and are based solely on my desire to expand my professional horizons."

A Birthday Memorial

Hundreds of colleagues, family and friends gathered inside the Capitol's Statuary Hall yesterday to pay final tribute to Stephanie Tubbs Jones, the Cleveland congresswoman who died Aug. 20 after suffering a brain hemorrhage.

The service was part memorial, part celebration. And it was held yesterday for that reason: Born Sept. 10, 1949, Tubbs Jones would have been celebrating her 59th birthday.

A former judge who became Ohio's first black female member of Congress in 1998, Tubbs Jones went on to hold a seat on the Ways and Means Committee and became chairman of the House ethics committee. Rep. Gene Green (D-Tex.) was named Tuesday as her replacement on the ethics panel for the final months of this session.

"Though her accomplishments were many, Stephanie Tubbs Jones had a simple wish," House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) said yesterday. "As she said: 'I hope I made you proud.' . . . I know that every person in this room, especially Stephanie's family and certainly her colleagues in the Congress, can say to Stephanie on her birthday: As a chairwoman, as a congresswoman, as a representative of Cleveland who loved her district and constituents, and most of all, who loved her family, you made everyone who cared about you or knew about you, very, very proud. We'll miss you, darling."


© 2008 The Washington Post Company

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