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Sweet Column: Tony Snow on the stump. Hastert challenger new tv ads hit speaker on Foley.

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After warm-ups in Wisconsin and Iowa, White House Press Secretary Tony Snow arrives in St. Charles on Saturday to headline a $175-a- person fund-raiser for beleaguered House Speaker J. Dennis Hastert.

"It's sort of Denny Hastert's big deal,'' Snow said.

It's unusual for a presidential spokesman to go out on the stump, but Snow has his campaign calendar filled through the Nov. 7 election. He's got 16 events -- speeches, fund-raisers, drop-bys -- on his schedule and five more in the works.

(click below for items on Tony Snow--a new tv ad by Hastert challenger John Laesch hitting Hastert on Foley--and how Dem House political boss Rahm Emanuel is in a Chicago seat so safe he is not even bothering to run a campaign--while GOP House campaign chief Tom Reynolds is--because of Foley--fighting for his political life in New York.)


After warm-ups in Wisconsin and Iowa, White House Press Secretary Tony Snow arrives in St. Charles on Saturday to headline a $175-a- person fund-raiser for beleaguered House Speaker J. Dennis Hastert.

"It's sort of Denny Hastert's big deal,'' Snow said.

It's unusual for a presidential spokesman to go out on the stump, but Snow has his campaign calendar filled through the Nov. 7 election. He's got 16 events -- speeches, fund-raisers, drop-bys -- on his schedule and five more in the works.

Snow's visit has been planned for months. Hastert's team reached out to the White House on June 19, inviting Snow to be the marquee draw. While much of Hastert's prolific fund-raising for his two main political funds taps the wallets of lobbyists or wealthy Republicans across the nation, this annual dinner -- almost always fronted by a political celebrity -- is designed for residents of Hastert's 14th Congressional District. The White House political office accepted Hastert's offer Aug. 17.

So the timing of Snow's visit has nothing to do with the biggest crisis of Hastert's political life, the one that threatens his speakership -- how Hastert and his staff, specifically Chief of Staff Scott Palmer, handled the Mark Foley cyberspace page sex scandal. Actually, the Hastert speaking request for Snow was the spark that led to the decision by Snow and the White House political operation that Snow should hit the road for Republicans. In his role as partisan pitchman, Snow plans to try to stay above the fray.

"I'm not going out and banging on Democrats by name, or even trying to do so by implication, but instead trying to do a positive discussion on what the president is doing and why,'' Snow said.

As a White House staffer on call 24/7, Snow does not have to take a vacation to do politics because he's always on the clock.

In 1978, Snow lived in Chicago, at 5426 S. Harper, as a graduate student at the University of Chicago studying political philosophy. He said he spent a lot of time in the bleachers at Wrigley Field.


• • •
No matter his poll ratings, President Bush is a cash cow. His visit to Chicago on Thursday raised about $1 million to benefit the two biggest GOP House races in Illinois -- the 6th District, where Peter Roskam faces Democrat Tammy Duckworth, and the 8th District, where David McSweeney is challenging Rep. Melissa Bean (D-Ill).

On Wednesday, Bush gave Hastert his third public show of support as the speaker resists pressure to resign in the wake of the Foley scandal. Asked if Hastert remained credible, Bush said, "Oh, Denny is very credible, as far as I'm concerned. And he's been a -- he's done a fine job as speaker.''


• • •
Hastert's House campaign fund had $1 million on hand on June 30, compared with $15,668 for his Democratic challenger, John Laesch, who labored with little attention until Foley resigned after his e-mails and lurid IM's to pages surfaced. The Foley scandal has yielded between $50,000 and $60,000 for Laesch. Laesch told me Wednesday that he is using the money to hire more organizers -- and will be able to make a modest cable TV buy.

His ad hits Hastert on the Foley issue. It also features New York Rep. Tom Reynolds, the chief of the House GOP campaign committee. Reynolds has said he told Hastert of a Foley problem and even called the speaker his "supervisor'' in one interview. Hastert has said he doesn't remember Reynolds telling him anything, though he doesn't dispute his account.

In the Laesch spot, a narrator says, "the office of the speaker of the House was alerted months ago that a sexual predator was contacting underage male pages. And how did Speaker Hastert respond? He kept Rep. Mark Foley on as co-chair of the House Caucus on missing and exploited children."

Then, a Reynolds' sound bite: "I reported what I had been told to the speaker of the House." Narrator: "Yet, Dennis Hastert did nothing.''


• • •
Foley may cost Reynolds his seat. Foley's former chief of staff, Kirk Fordham, was Reynolds' top aide. Trying to save his job, Reynolds has barely left the district.

Compare that to his House counterpart, Rep. Rahm Emanuel (D-Ill.), the boss of the Democratic campaign committee. Emanuel's seat is so safe he is not doing anything special to campaign -- no ads, no headquarters, no mailings.


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Lynn Sweet

Lynn Sweet is a columnist and the Washington Bureau Chief for the Chicago Sun-Times.

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This page contains a single entry by Lynn Sweet published on October 12, 2006 4:29 AM.

Bush, on day before Chicago visit: ``Denny is very credible, as far as I am concerned.'' was the previous entry in this blog.

Sweet Column (encore): First look at new Obama book. Dems ``confused,'' he writes. is the next entry in this blog.

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