Honest John McCain ducks out of a commitment to campaign for Foley-damaged Tom Reynolds:
WASHINGTON – Erie County Republicans on Tuesday quickly recruited White House power hitter Karl Rove to speak at their annual black-tie dinner Oct. 20 after the front-runner for the party’s presidential nomination, Sen. John McCain, dropped out unexpectedly.
In addition to speaking at the dinner, McCain was scheduled to lead a rally in Buffalo for embattled Rep. Thomas M. Reynolds, R-Clarence. McCain’s office Tuesday scrubbed both events, claiming that the popular Arizona Republican had a scheduling conflict.
Rove is President Bush’s closest political and policy adviser. Carrying the title of deputy White House chief of staff, Rove is sometimes called “Bush’s brain” by friends and adversaries.
Rove is also a close friend of Reynolds, whose job of re-electing a GOP House majority and even his own return to the House are threatened by a steep downturn in Bush’s standing in the polls and the scandal that forced the resignation of Rep. Mark Foley, R-Fla.
McCain, who weeks ago had promised to speak Oct. 20, backed out sometime between Monday afternoon and Tuesday morning. The call conveying McCain’s regrets came to Reynolds, who was counting on McCain to showcase his influence in the capital.
It took Reynolds’ re-election team by surprise. Reynolds’ spokesman Lawrence D. Platt told reporters Monday that McCain would be coming to the dinner and the re-election rally.
Though McCain changed his schedule two days after a Buffalo News-commissioned Zogby poll showed Reynolds trailing in his race with his Democratic opponent, Jack Davis of Clarence, by 15 points, McCain’s office said the senator is still a strong Reynolds supporter.
“We definitely will come up for Tom Reynolds’ luncheon in Rochester” on Oct. 20, which includes a press availability afterward, said Craig Goldman, spokesman for Straight Talk America, McCain’s national political action committee.
Goldman acknowledged McCain’s speaking date was confirmed with the county Republican organization.
“But we had so many other requests for the senator to appear,” McCain couldn’t keep the engagement, he said.
Asked where McCain plans to be instead of Reynolds’ $250-a-plate dinner in the Statler Towers, Goldman said, “We haven’t figured that out yet.”
Now that’s what I call “straight talk.”
Footnote: This reminds me of the story of a conservative Democratic Congressman from Ohio (it might have been Wayne Hayes) invited to make an appearance in his district with George McGovern in 1972. When the Congressman said he was going to be in Brazil on the proposed date, the McGovern folks asked about alternative dates. The Congressman’s office replied, “The Congressman is going to be in Brazil anytime the Senator comes to town.”
Hat tip: The Plank