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GOP, Dems Slam Each Other Over Foley

For the second straight week, the Mark Foley page scandal dominated Sunday morning airwaves as Democrats and Republicans sparred over the significance of the GOP's apparent cover-up of the ex-Florida congressman's inappropriate e-mails.

"I think they were slow out of the starting blocks, there's no question about it," Rep. Tom Davis, R-Va., told CBS Face The Nation host Bob Schieffer of the House leadership.

Joined by his Republican colleague, Rep. Ray LaHood of Louisiana, the pair attempted to distance the GOP from Foley's actions. Davis said Rep. Tom Reynolds, R-N.Y, who heads the House Republicans' election effort and is alleged to have known about the e-mails, should not have urged Foley to run for re-election.

"You know, hindsight's great in this business," Davis said. "Obviously at this point, knowing what we know now, we wouldn't have urged him to seek re-election. His (Foley) name's on the ballot and it's radioactive."

Despite the negative momentum of the Foley scandal, Republicans are doing their best to hold the party together in the face of the upcoming election in which Democrats are making serious threats to retake control of Congress.

As for Reynolds, his absence on the Sunday talk shows was particularly noticeable. Booked weeks ago for ABC's "This Week," he confirmed his appearance on Wednesday. By Saturday, his office canceled without explanation and arranged for a substitute guest, Rep. Adam Putnam, R-Fla., a network spokeswoman said.

A Reynolds spokesman said the New York congressman had flu-like symptoms. Reynolds, whose district covers an economically distressed stretch of New York between the suburbs of Buffalo and Rochester, is now trailing his Democratic opponent, Jack Davis, by a 48-33 percent margin, according to a poll conducted by Zogby International for The Buffalo News.

On "This Week," Putnam claimed that while newspapers and even the FBI did not deem the e-mails worthy of investigation when they first surfaced, "the only people who acted were the House of Representatives."

Appearing with Putnam was Rep. Rahm Emanuel, D-Ill. Putnam pressed Emanuel over whether Democrats knew of Foley's e-mails before last month.

Emanuel pounced on the question, shooting back, "What you guys want to do is take your dirty laundry and throw it over the fence and try to blame other people for the problems."

Congressman Patrick McHenry, a North Carolina Republican, said Democrats should be investigated to see whether they leaked the explicit e-mails to gain a political advantage before the elections, although the lawmaker acknowledged he had no evidence indicating that was the case.

Responded Democratic Congressman Charles Rangel of New York: "I think it's ridiculous. But if I was in a bind, as the Republicans are now, I guess I would be reaching for straws. But it's sad."

Both men appeared on CNN's "Late Edition."

Almost half of Americans surveyed in a recent Associated Press-Ipsos poll said recent disclosures of corruption and scandal will be extremely or very important to their vote.

A Newsweek poll released this weekend showed more than half of those surveyed believe Hastert tried to cover up news of Foley's messages to the teenage interns. This poll gives Democrats the advantage on handling moral values, normally a Republican strong point.