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Virginia Senate race now a dead heat

Republican Sen. George Allen and his Democratic challenger, Jim Webb, are still locked in a very close race, according to a statewide poll published Sunday.

Allen was favored by 49 percent of those surveyed last week and Webb was the choice of 47 percent, the Washington Post poll found. Two percent supported independent Gail Parker and 2 percent were undecided.

The results are within the poll’s sampling margin of error of plus or minus 3 percentage points.

Clinton: Republican extremists divided America

Former President Bill Clinton told Iowa’s Democratic Party faithful on Saturday that the actions of “an extreme sliver” of the Republican Party have backfired and “profoundly divided” the country.

“We’ve got a big responsibility. Forget about 2008. Forget about the politics. Just go out and find somebody and look them dead in the eye and say ‘You know, this is not right’…This is America,” Clinton said. “We can do better and this year, it’s a job that Democrats have to do alone.”

Murtha blasts Republicans for name-calling

Rep. John Murtha, a decorated Marine veteran who favors withdrawing U.S. troops from Iraq, wrote an essay for Sunday’s Washington Post blasting Republicans for referring to him and other Iraq war opponents as “Defeatocrats.”

In his opinion piece, first published on the Post’s Web site Saturday night, Murtha, D-Pa., said Vice President Dick Cheney, Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld and others in the White House have called Iraq war opponents appeasers and pessimists and labeled Democrats the “cut and run” party.

Another day, another new Bush excuse for Iraq invasion

President Bush keeps revising his explanation for why the U.S. is in Iraq, moving from narrow military objectives at first to history-of-civilization stakes now.

101506bush.jpgInitially, the rationale was specific: to stop Saddam Hussein from using what Bush claimed were the Iraqi leader’s weapons of mass destruction or from selling them to al-Qaida or other terrorist groups.

Former Rep. Gerry Studds dies in Boston

Former U.S. Rep. Gerry Studds, a Massachusetts Democrat who was censured in 1983 for having a sexual relationship with a 17-year-old congressional intern, died on Saturday at Boston Medical Center, an official said.

Christian Kiriakos, the hospital’s central administrator, said Studds, 69, died Saturday morning but did not provide details on the cause of his death.

GOP Rep Jim Kolbe probed for taking pages on camping trip

Federal prosecutors in Arizona have opened a preliminary investigation into a camping trip that an Arizona lawmaker took with two former pages and others in 1996, according to a law enforcement official.

Rep. Jim Kolbe, R-Ariz., took the former pages as well as staff members and National Park Service officials on a Fourth of July rafting trip in the Grand Canyon in 1996, his spokeswoman Korenna Cline said Friday.

Another day, another Republican under investigation

The Justice Department is investigating whether Republican Rep. Curt Weldon of Pennsylvania traded his political influence for lucrative lobbying and consulting contracts for his daughter, according to sources with direct knowledge of the inquiry.

The FBI, which opened an investigation in recent months, has formally referred the matter to the department’s Public Integrity Section for additional scrutiny. At issue are Weldon’s efforts between 2002 and 2004 to aid two Russian companies and two Serbian brothers with ties to strongman Slobodan Milosevic, a federal law enforcement official said.

House page board chief admits GOP screwed up

A congressman who is a key figure in the House page scandal conceded Friday that Republicans have mishandled the matter.

“I think there’s stuff that everybody would have done differently” in hindsight, said Rep. John Shimkus, R-Ill., after he testified for more than three hours before the House ethics committee. The panel is investigating former Rep. Mark Foley’s sexually tinged Internet communications with teenage pages over several years.