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Foley Fodder For Campaign Ads

Patty Wetterling of St. Joseph, Minn., left, addresses the media at a rally in support of HR 3132, The Children's Safety Act on Capitol Hill in this July 26, 2005 file photo. Wetterling's son Jacob disappeared in October of 1989 and has yet to be found. At right is Rep. Mark Kennedy, R-Minn.
AP
Usually out front in force, national Democrats expressed outrage over the Mark Foley scandal and its aftermath but largely let their candidates and allied groups do the tough talking.

Dealing with a sexually-tinged scandal such as Foley's can be a delicate matter, especially during campaign season. However, some Democrats have not shied away from taking on the issue in campaign ads.

Patty Wetterling, a Democrat running for an open House seat in Minnesota, is airing a hard-hitting television ad charging that Republicans "knowingly ignored the welfare of children to protect their own power."

Referring to the Foley matter, an announcer in Wetterling's ad charges that "Congressional leaders have admitted covering up the predatory behavior of a congressman who used the Internet to molest children."

A candidate whose son disappeared 17 years ago, Wetterling will deliver the Democratic response to President Bush's radio address on Saturday. Her address will focus on protecting children, including Internet safety.

In the meantime, Democratic allies also are pressuring Republicans.

American Family Voices, an independent nonprofit group run by a former aide to President Clinton, made recorded phone calls Tuesday and Wednesday to voters in congressional districts of 50 Republican incumbents, including Rep. John Boehner of Ohio and others in tough congressional races, demanding resignations of Hastert and other leaders.

"Congressman Mark Foley was shielded by Republican leaders for at least nine months after they knew Foley was trying to seduce a 16 year-old boy, a congressional page," the recorded calls say. "Call Congressman (name of member and phone number) and demand he stop the cover-up. The answer is arrests, resignations and a new congressional leadership"

Another pro-Democratic group, FaithfulDemocrats.com, collected signatures from 29 members of the clergy on a letter calling for the "repentance and resignation of all members of Congress who knew about Mr. Foley's misdeeds yet failed to stop them."

Foley's Democratic opponent, Tim Mahoney, began airing an ad Monday whose subtle reference to Foley is only evident in light of the budding scandal. "Every generation," Mahoney says on camera, "has the responsibility of turning over to the next generation an America that's more moral and one that offers greater opportunity to their children."