Cheney vs. Times

Robert Novak

5/20/2006 12:05:00 AM - Robert Novak

WASHINGTON -- Vice President Dick Cheney, addressing a closed-door session of Republican fund-raisers and contributors Wednesday, attacked the New York Times report on the NSA terrorist surveillance program that won it a Pulitzer Prize.

 Cheney spoke to 350 high-dollar Republicans over lunch at the Mellon Auditorium in Washington. The news media was barred from the event, and the vice president's office declined to release a text. However, sources present quoted Cheney as saying U.S. security suffered from the leak that won the Times a Pulitzer.

 Cheney aides said that this was an "old story," which he had told Feb. 3 on Laura Ingraham's radio talk show. However, that program preceded the Pulitzer award by more than two months, and Cheney at that time mentioned the Times among several leaks.

DEMOCRATIC TARGETING

 Rep. Rahm Emanuel, chairman of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, showed he is serious in targeting his Republican counterpart, Rep. Tom Reynolds, in this year's election by sending a top Democratic operative to his Buffalo area district.

 Tom Pazzi, a Washington-based campaign consultant with experience in presidential campaigns, is working for Reynolds's opponent: Jack Davis, a multi-millionaire industrialist and former Republican. Spending $1.25 million of his own money in 2004 without help from party sources, Davis held Reynolds to 56 percent. Reynolds in 2002 was elected chairman of the National Republican Congressional Committee, on the assumption that he represented a safe district, permitting him to concentrate on holding the Republican House majority.

 Davis, who supports President Bush's tax cuts and repeal of the estate tax, attacks Reynolds for supporting free trade that costs jobs in upstate New York. Democratic polls give Reynolds 36 percent approval, against 23 percent disapproval. His vulnerability stems mostly from Republican weakness at the top of the state ticket.

CANDIDATE MCCAIN

 Although Sen. John McCain's commencement speech at Jerry Falwell's Liberty University was interpreted as an overture to the Right, the prospective Republican presidential candidate a week later sought support on the opposite end of the GOP ideological spectrum.

 McCain was scheduled as the featured attraction at a May 20 Saturday evening fund-raiser (costing $125 to $1,000 a ticket) for Rep. Michael Castle of Delaware at Dewey Beach, Del. Castle, who leads moderate-to-liberal House Republicans, did not make a pre-convention endorsement in 2000.

 McCain likes to spend weekends at his Cottonwood, Ariz., "cabin" and has been reluctant to schedule events on Saturdays. Dewey Beach, an Atlantic resort, is far from any major airport and is not easy to reach.

DISSING DEAN

 A new television ad by conservatives attempts to use outspoken Democratic National Chairman Howard Dean's own words to discredit his party on the war against terrorism.

 The Americas Majority ad shows a black-and-white still photograph of a sinister-looking Dean. His own voice is heard, with these words: "The idea that we're going to win this war is an idea that unfortunately is just plain wrong, and I've seen this before in my life."

 The ad continues with an announcer saying: "Every time a prominent Democrat tells America we can't win, his words are broadcast around the Arab world." At the close of the ad, the announcer says: "The terrorists know their days are numbered unless the Democratic Party wins the next American election."

UNINVITED LAWMAKERS

 Only two members of Congress attended President Bush's relatively rare black-tie state dinner at the White House Tuesday, honoring Australian Prime Minister John Howard. That contrasted with heavy Capitol Hill representation at past such events.

 The guests were Republican Sen. Lamar Alexander and Democratic Rep. John Tanner, both from Tennessee. Alexander and his family spent six months in Australia in 1987 after finishing eight years as governor of Tennessee. Tanner is a friend of Michael Thawley, the former Australian ambassador in Washington.

 A footnote: The Howard dinner guest list contained nobody from Hollywood, including actors with Australian backgrounds.