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The defending majority

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Bush spokesperson Dana Perino emphasized again yesterday that Bush has "his eye on the ball when it comes to campaigning" and would advise fellow Republicans to do the same.  But the New York Times says the Foley affair is rendering Bush's bully pulpit virtually useless.  "In interviews this week, White House officials expressed a sense of resignation, saying they were left with few options to help their party emerge intact." 

Speaking to reporters traveling with Bush in Arizona, Rep. Trent Franks (R) told them he believes leaders of the Democratic party knew about it 10 months ago, per the White House pool report.  Rep. Patrick McHenry also "called on Democratic leaders yesterday to testify under oath about when they knew of" Foley's electronic communications with House pages, The Hill reports. 

The Hill also notes, however, that since a longtime Republican Hill aide was the source of the Foley e-mails, "Republicans who are calling for probes to discover what Democratic leaders and staff knew about" Foley's behavior "will likely be unable to show that the opposition party orchestrated the scandal." 

Child advocate Patty Wetterling, the Democratic candidate for a key open House seat in Minnesota, will give the party's response to the President's radio address on Saturday, Democrats announced.  Her remarks will focus on child protection.  Wetterling became a child-safety advocate after her son was kidnapped in 1989; he has never been found.

Sen. John Kerry (D), campaigning for a candidate in New Hampshire yesterday, "said it's troubling that some people in Congress knew about the allegations before they became public.  If teachers and administrators failed to act on allegations like that in a school, he said, no one would stand for it. The same should go for Congress, he said." 

"Let's forget all of the niceties and diplomatic language and cut to the obvious truth: From the White House to Capitol Hill, Republicans look inept," says Stuart Rothenberg.  "Republicans may counter that while they have messed up, Democrats haven't done anything to deserve control of Congress.  Sure, I can buy that.  But that's not how our system works."  Democrats "don't have to understand that their election isn't a mandate for anything - except change."

"Only an 'act of God' could reverse the Republican party's sharply declining fortunes in the critical mid-term congressional elections that take place in less than five weeks, according to senior conservative consultants and opinion polls," says the Financial Times.  "Republican strategists can still draw on a large war chest," and their "election strategy remains two-pronged: to focus on the larger 'war on terror' and to localise congressional races... in order to divert attention from scandals, the war in Iraq and the unpopularity of George W. Bush." 

Per the Wall Street Journal, Democratic candidates are attacking Republicans who don't have any connection to the scandal, some by "pressing Republicans to declare whether they will vote to re-elect" Hastert as Speaker, and some by taking issue with campaign donations from Foley.