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Murtha Hits Up Once-vulnerable Dems

Rep. John Murtha (D-Pa.) is hitting up once-vulnerable Democrats for spare campaign cash in a late bid to save seat.

A Murtha fundraising aide is contacting members of the Democrats' Frontline program to scare up last-minute campaign donations, according to aides familiar with those solicitations.

The veteran Democrat finds himself in trouble after telling the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette earlier this month that "western Pennsylvania is a racist area." The remarks gave Republican Bill Russell an opening in what had not been a competitive race.

The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee went up on television earlier this week to protect Murtha, spending more than $80,000 to help Speaker Nancy Pelosi's (D-Calif.) close ally - money that otherwise would be directed to a promising challenger or one of the party's few vulnerable incumbents.

Frontline members, who are chosen because they are supposed to have tough reelections, aren't required to pay campaign dues to the DCCC. But many of these members no longer have tight races. Murtha, meanwhile, was supposed to coast to an 18th term in the House.