Reporter William March has covered state and national politics since 1994. Email
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Quote Inspires Busansky Attack
Posted Oct 11, 2006 by William March
Updated Oct 11, 2006 at 03:32 PM
An ineptly worded statement by the Gus Bilirakis campaign to an insider congressional newsletter in Washington has turned into an attack ad by Bilirakis’s opponent in the local District 9 congressional race, Phyllis Busansky.
Busansky says the quote shows an arrogant refusal by Bilirakis to acknowledge the public’s concern over the issue. The Bilirakis campaign says Busansky wrenched the quote out of context, wildly distorting its meaning.
The subject is House Speaker Dennis Hastert’s handling of the Mark Foley congressional page scandal, currently the subject of a House investigation. The question was whether, knowing what he knows now, Bilirakis would vote as a Republican House caucus member to retain Hastert as speaker.
According to Bilirakis spokeswoman Liz Hittos, a low-level campaign aide told a reporter from The Hill newsletter that Bilirakis wasn’t ready to take a position, considering he hasn’t won the seat yet.
That led to a direct quote attributed by The Hill to Bilirakis himself: “‘We have no stance on that right now. We’ll worry about that after we win.”
Talk about low-hanging fruit. Busansky’s media consultant should have felt guilty about taking his paycheck this week. It took the campaign approximately one nanosecond to get a 15-second spot on TV saying the quote represented “Gus Bilirakis commenting on the Foley sex scandal in Washington.”
“That is not true,” said Hittos, outraged. The comment wasn’t on the scandal itself, but on whether he’d vote to retain Hastert, she insisted.
The response from Busansky campaign manager Robert Becker: “This is the issue of the day and it wonâ€™t wait until somebody wins â€“ it needs to be answered now. Candidates around the country are taking positions. As soon as the reports came out that Hastert had prior knowledge, Phyllis came out and said he should step down as speaker.â€
Check out the ad—actually, there are two verisons: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fbi0tUV52Zcand http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ToEuxXtECKs
The story from The Hill: