Republican House hopeful Peter Roskam is blaming Democratic rival Tammy Duckworth for something she had absolutely no control over -- coverage of their race by al-Jazeera.
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The Arab-language news organization is controversial, as it is the outlet of choice for tapes of Osama bin Laden.
But it also does more routine news, has an English language Web site and is beefing up its U.S. operation. An al-Jazeera crew covered a Roskam-Duckworth debate in DuPage County.
"An odd thing happened in the only public debate between my opponent and me," a Roskam fund-raising letter said. "Al-Jazeera showed up. . . . Now, why do they care who wins the election?"
This 6th District House race is one of the hottest in the country. It has drawn the attention of the international press in large part because of the Duckworth narrative -- a wounded Iraq war vet who lost her legs is running as a Democrat and is a critic of the Iraq war. Duckworth might have attracted the foreign press corps even if she ran as a Republican.
I went to a Duckworth event in Mount Prospect on Thursday. She was in a skirt, hobbling around on her fake legs, one of which sports an American flag decal. A few of the TV cameramen were crouched on the floor to make sure they got the shot of Duckworth's prosthetic legs.
In past months, journalists from Canada, Denmark, England, Germany, Japan, Sweden, France, among others, have traveled to the western suburbs.
It's not a mystery why al-Jazeera showed up at the College of DuPage. The race offers foreign journalists a snapshot into the U.S. in a district that is conveniently located next to O'Hare Airport.
This race is ending as it began -- on the Iraq war. It's been nationalized almost from the start. Republicans have been trying to portray Democrats as soft on national security.
The Illinois Republican Party is paying for scary direct-mail pieces going into the 6th District with a picture of bin Laden and a blast against Democrats.
House Speaker J. Dennis Hastert is giving saturation coverage to his little-known Democratic opponent, John Laesch.
Laesch got a boomlet of exposure when the Mark Foley page sex scandal hit in late September, ensnaring the Hastert operation over what his team knew and when they knew it.
But instead of doing all positive messaging -- a usual strategy to wind up a frontrunner's campaign -- Hastert is running radio spots replete with mentions of how Laesch "just doesn't share our values. Denny Hastert does.''
Lots of name ID for the long shot.
Help for a South Side expat
Sen. Barack Obama is spending the weekend in the major electoral battlegrounds -- Pennsylvania, Ohio and Tennessee.
Friday night, Obama was campaigning again for Deval Patrick, the Democrat running for governor of Massachusetts.
Patrick grew up on Chicago's South Side and left on a scholarship to an elite prep school -- which set him on a path to Harvard. He never came back.
If Patrick wins, he will be the first African-American governor of Massachusetts.