Washington Prowler

Ports of Call

Dems turn security against vulnerable Republicans. Also: Joe goes it alone. Romney's new Catholic backing.

By 10.2.06

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THIS CALL IS BEING MONITORED
The network funded by the likes of George Soros and the AFL-CIO and other labor unions is now funding automatic phone calls dealing with port security, the Dubai Ports World deal in particular. According to sources inside the DNC, the left-wing, labor-funded outfit, American Family Voices, which worked tirelessly to smear Republicans in the 2004 election cycle, is running the phone call operations in as many as 15 congressional districts held by Republicans in Pennsylvania and Ohio, among others.

While the DNC has no direct ties to the AFV, the group's decision on which districts to run the phone calls was based on DNC polling data that revealed at-risk Republicans on national security issues. The calls play on terrorism fears, and claim that Dubai is a "country whose banks were used to launder money for al Qaeda."

The phone calls come at a time when Ports World has been working with the federal government to close the deal for the ports. The AFV had been counting on a much bigger furor around the deal -- in fact, according to AFV sources, it had been coordinating the calls with the office of Sen. Chuck Schumer, who coincidentally, is in charge of the Democrats' campaign funding for Senate candidates. But Schumer has been strangely quiet about the Ports World deal, perhaps because some of the biggest backers of the deal are Wall Street firms he regularly hits for contributions.

OLD JOE
Barring emails to young boys, Sen. Joe Lieberman seems on his way to re-election a month from now, yet his colleagues continue to keep their distance. Last week, Lieberman threw a Washington fundraiser at the Phoenix Park Hotel on Capitol Hill. The only current Democratic Senator we saw in attendance was Colorado's Ken Salazar.

The attendees were a mix of moderate Democrat activists and bipartisan industry lobbyists, but if the support from his own party faithful was lacking, the financial haul confirmed where the smart money was going for the Connecticut race. Last year, Lieberman pulled in a bit more than $150,000 for the fundraiser. This year, staff believe he pulled in almost $500,000.

ROMNEY ROMANISM
"Why are devout Catholics getting behind this guy?" wonders a Washington, D.C. based Republican fundraiser about Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney.

His thoughts came a day after the Romney campaign announced that longtime New Hampshire Republican power player Tom Rath has signed on to Romney's Commonwealth PAC as a "senior adviser."

Rath's denomination is unknown. But what is known is that he is a man who has been closely involved in two of the most devastating moments for pro-life and social conservatives involving the Supreme Court.

Not only was Rath one of the two most influential men in the President George H.W. Bush's decision to nominate Judge David Souter to the court, but Rath was also a key player for the White House in attempting to ram White House counsel Harriet Miers onto the court.

Rath's decision to sign on with Romney isn't surprising, given his proximity to Massachusetts and his politics. What is surprising is the way in which the news was met by some Catholic conservatives, who have become big touters of the man from Michichusetts.

Word is, some prominent Catholic Federalist Society members are working with the Romney campaign to build out conservative Catholic support in Washington and elsewhere for a man whose positions on life and social issues have been, if nothing else, evolving.

Their support is surprising since, according to pro-life sources in New Hampshire, Rath has actively attempted to smear pro-life candidates visiting his state. When Sen. Sam Brownback, who many believe will decide to make a decidedly uphill run for the Republican nomination, made an initial foray into New Hampshire, he was greeted by a mass-mailed letter attacking him for being a leader of the opposition against the Miers nomination, and the scuttlebutt was that Rath was working behind the scenes twisting arms for signatories.

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