Running Away From Bush And Foley

With Iraq and the Foley scandal very much on the minds of voters some Republican candidates are finding themselves surprisingly on the ropes.

CBS News correspondent Randall Pinkston reports that even in a traditional Republican stronghold, Democrats think they can make gains.

In Connecticut's fifth Congressional district, incumbent Republican Nancy Johnson – who has been in office for 24 years – is running on her record and what she calls her independent voice.

"I was part of the small coalition that drove the stem cell bill onto the floor of the house and successfully through the house," Johnson said, and she made it clear that was against President Bush's wishes. "Absolutely against the president's opposition," she said.

To underscore her independent streak, Johnson called in the GOP's best known maverick, Arizona Senator John McCain, to campaign for her.

For loyal Republicans, these are tough times. They have to contradict the president of a central issue like the war in Iraq.

Johnson said she has challenged Mr. Bush's policies in Iraq, but she also said, "they won't report what individual congressmen say."

And the Foley-congressional page scandal just made them tougher.

Here's how Johnson answered the question of whether or not House speaker Dennis Hastert should resign.

"It isn't clear to me that a mistake was made by him," Johnson said.

Democratic challenger Chris Murphy claims Johnson's tough talk about independence isn't matched by her deeds.

"I can't understand why there aren't more republicans calling for him to step down," Murphy said about the Speaker.

He said voters are beginning to see the Republican's aren't really independent from the president.

"I think they think she was an independent voice at one time, but they've seen her support for the Bush budget, the Bush energy bill, the Bush policy in Iraq," Murphy said.

Murphy hopes he has caught 'big mo' – the momentum that will carry him to victory over one of Connecticut's best known politicians.

"If somebody like Nancy Johnson loses with her incumbency and a fairly solid Republican district, it tells me the democrats are very likely to take over the House of Representatives," said Larry Sabato, a professor at the Univerity of Virginia's Center for Politics.

With one month to Election Day, anything can happen and in politics, it usually does.
  • James Klatell

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