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GOP turmoil

"Fordham's allegation brings the circle of those who had been told about Foley's behavior one step closer to the Speaker's chair," Roll Call says.  "Palmer has been Hastert's friend and top aide for more than 20 years."

The Los Angeles Times reports that Fordham's attorney "said Fordham did not know whether Palmer provided the information to Hastert.  But the lawyer said Fordham did know that Palmer met with Foley." 

The Roll Call story also notes that "a spokeswoman for GOP candidate Joy Padgett, who is running to replace Rep. Bob Ney in Ohio's 18th district, said Hastert's office contacted their campaign Wednesday and canceled his appearance at an Oct. 9 fundraiser due to 'scheduling conflicts.'"  Yesterday, vulnerable Rep. Ron Lewis of Kentucky canceled a fundraiser with Hastert.

In an interview yesterday with the Chicago Tribune, Hastert "said he had no thoughts of resigning and he blamed ABC News and Democratic operatives for the mushrooming scandal…  Hastert said in the phone interview: '…When the base finds out who's feeding this monster, they're not going to be happy.  The people who want to see this thing blow up are ABC News and a lot of Democratic operatives, people funded by [liberal activist] George Soros.'" 

The paper's editorial board argues, "The time for Hastert to give a clear, convincing picture of what he and GOP leadership knew about Foley is running very short." 

The House Ethics Committee now has "the sensitive job of investigating" Hastert.  "When the committee investigated Democratic Speaker Jim Wright and Republican Speaker Newt Gingrich, it hired outside counsels," the AP reminds us.  "The outside counsel in the Wright investigation said the committee must hire an independent investigator to convince the public it can conduct a nonpartisan investigation of congressional leaders." 

House Majority Whip Roy Blunt also distanced himself from Hastert yesterday, notes the Washington Times.  "'I think I could have given some good advice here, which is you have to be curious, you have to ask all the questions you can think of,'" he said. 

"What is Mr. Hastert's supposed firing offense, anyway?" asks the Wall Street Journal editorial board in his defense.  "We've seen no evidence to date that he lied or attempted a cover-up.  His office responded to complaints from the parents of a former page by having the head of the page board and clerk of the House speak with Mr. Foley and order him to stop communicating with the minor." 

"Amid the furor, Hastert and the Bush administration tried to shore up support among Christian voters.  Conservative activist Paul Weyrich... said he reversed his call for Hastert to resign after getting a personal call from the speaker.  The efforts are unlikely to stem the tide of criticism about Hastert's handling of the issue," Bloomberg says. 

The San Francisco Chronicle says the scandal exposes "the long-running fissure in the Republican Party between those on the right who view homosexuality as a sin that endangers the country and those who want the party to find a place in the GOP for all Americans."