The Happy Leftie

For lefties and other normal people who have considered suicide when the mainstream 'news' was enuf

Giving you something to be happy about for over 40 days • Stop by often and get your 'happy' on!

Tuesday, March 21, 2006

Cheney in GOP Doghouse

You wouldn't be caught dead with him. Neither would Senate candidate Tom Kean.



In the biggest campaign fund-raiser yet on behalf of State Senator Thomas H. Kean Jr., Vice President Dick Cheney traveled to New Jersey on Monday and praised Mr. Kean as someone with "the experience, the values and the vision to be a superb United States senator."

But there was one problem: Mr. Kean was a no-show.

Actually, Mr. Kean did show up at the event, which was held at the offices of the IDT Corporation in downtown Newark. But he did not make it until 6:15, roughly 15 minutes after Mr. Cheney's motorcade had left.

So what should have been a routine political story about a successful fund-raiser, netting close to $400,000, became one in which Mr. Kean was asked repeatedly whether he had deliberately avoided being photographed with the vice president, who is deeply unpopular in New Jersey.

Mr. Kean's spokeswoman, Jill Hazelbaker, said: "There was no concerted effort. It was two ships passing in the night."

For his part, Mr. Kean said he had been in Trenton all day, voting on important bills, because "I would not miss votes in order to make a political event." As soon as the Senate wrapped up, around 4 p.m., he traveled north "as quickly as I could." But instead of taking the New Jersey Turnpike, like any regular commuter between Trenton and Newark, he and his driver chose Route 1, which is usually crawling with bumper-to-bumper traffic at that hour.

Mr. Kean said he did so because there were delays on the Turnpike in the morning. But at 6 p.m., there were no reported delays between Exit 7A, not far from Trenton, and the George Washington Bridge, according to the Turnpike's Web site.

And Anton Peters, an executive producer at Shadow Traffic, said that Route 1 was relatively trouble-free on Monday afternoon, with the only significant problem a northbound accident near Linden that was cleared up by 2 p.m. "If he was going north, it wouldn't have affected him," Mr. Peters said.

In any event, by the time he arrived in Newark, Mr. Kean said, "I ended up running down the street" to make the event.

As might be expected, Democrats — who were presumably itching to run television advertisements this fall featuring photos of Mr. Kean and Mr. Cheney — were pleasantly surprised at the turn of events.

"It's true that Dick Cheney is radioactive and it's true that his political affliction is contagious," said Richard McGrath, a spokesman for the state Democratic Party. "But it's not transmitted by personal contact or by getting photographed together. It's transmitted by campaign checks and by support for misguided policies. Tom Kean Jr. is already infected, irregardless of what he tries to tell the voters."

On paper, at least, Mr. Cheney's visit figured to be somewhat risky for Mr. Kean, who is viewed as more moderate. And in a reminder of what many Republicans worry could be an electoral liability in Mr. Kean's race against Senator Robert Menendez, a Quinnipiac University poll released on Monday reported that New Jersey voters disapproved of President Bush by 65 to 31 percent, his lowest marks ever in the state.

But for core Republicans, Mr. Cheney's visit was also a promising one, for political and financial reasons. Political, because it suggests that the White House — which, according to the Kean campaign, initiated Monday night's event — feels that the New Jersey race is competitive, and worth pouring resources into. And financial, because Mr. Kean trails Mr. Menendez in fund-raising by five to one, and needs a boost from anyone of national stature.

About 200 people attended Monday's fund-raiser. And one of those people was Douglas R. Forrester, the millionaire businessman who lost the race for governor in November to Jon S. Corzine. Mr. Forrester echoed a theme that many in attendance said about Mr. Kean: that he was full of integrity, but that it was necessary to raise money to be competitive.

Mr. Cheney, meanwhile, said that Mr. Kean had one of the most trusted names in politics, alluding to his father, former Gov. Thomas H. Kean. He did not, however, mention the fact that the elder Mr. Kean — who was out of the country, Ms. Hazelbaker said — had also been critical of the Bush administration, in his capacity as the former chairman of the 9/11 Commission.

But Mr. Cheney did not appear to feel slighted by the absence of the man for whom he was raising money.

"I'm sorry he's not here right now," Mr. Cheney said, referring to the younger Mr. Kean. "But I do some of my best work without a candidate."