A senior Democratic senator co-hosting a fund-raiser for her party’s presidential nominee typically isn’t big news. But when it comes to Sen. Mary Landrieu, up for re-election in red state Louisiana where Barack Obama remains largely unpopular, supporting her party’s presidential ticket can be a delicate issue. And when her name appears and then disappears from Obama’s Web site as one of the co-hosts to an Obama fund-raiser titled “Lipstick, Laughter and Libations,” it becomes irresistible fodder for political reporters and pundits. This week, the story of Landrieu getting de-listed from an Obama fund-raiser — a story that broke almost three weeks ago — was picked up nationwide, making the Associated Press, NBC, ABC, Fox and scores of other political columns and blogs. Even Comedy Central and the pro-Hillary Clinton blog, clintondems.com, took note.
It began when the communications director for Landrieu’s Republican opponent, state Treasurer John Kennedy, sent out an e-mail titled, “Landrieu doubles down on liberal fundraisers” with a link to a page on Barack Obama’s Web site listing Landrieu as one of the hosts for the women’s event fund-raiser. Later that afternoon, the Web site went down, and when it came back up, Landrieu’s name was no longer listed. For her part, Landrieu has tried to downplay the incident, which her campaign spokesman called a “clerical error.”
“The Obama event is part of a day-long series of DNC events focused on women’s political involvement,” read a Landrieu campaign statement. “Sen. Landrieu is scheduled to attend the event as part of the day-long series of events, but is not hosting. She was never scheduled to host, so we imagine that somebody made an error and accidently listed her as a host.”
But for many political observers, it was hard to believe that something as carefully planned as a presidential fund-raiser could be accidentally listing U.S. senators on its host committee — a line being perpetuated by Landrieu’s Republican opponent. Contacted by The Independent, Kennedy communications director Lenny Alcivar calls the story a “landmark moment” in the campaign. “We landed a clean shot,” says Alcivar. “It was one of these things that started off innocent enough,” he continues, “and I think her response more than anything probably made it even worse because she panicked. It became clear how terribly afraid Mary Landrieu is about Barack Obama and his candidacy’s effect on her re-election prospects.”
Landrieu spokesman Scott Schneider insists that’s not the case. In an e-mailed statement, Schneider says, “Sen. Landrieu is proud to support Barack Obama and believes he will bring necessary change to Washington, but she is focused on her own race and on fighting and winning for the people of Louisiana.”
Kennedy could double-dip on Bush exposure
Treasurer John Kennedy enjoyed a high-profile visit from first lady Laura Bush last week in Lafayette, where a fund-raiser was hosted with tickets ranging from $1,000 to $2,500. Approximately 165 people attended, including Sen. David Vitter, Republican state Party Chairman Roger Villere and Lafayette City-Parish President Joey Durel. While it certainly served as a boost to Kennedy’s campaign, it may be just the beginning. Kennedy, who is challenging Democratic U.S. Sen. Mary Landrieu this fall, could walk away with another photo-op with her commander-in-chief husband this week. President Bush is expected to be in New Orleans Wednesday for a Hurricane Katrina anniversary event, according to the Associated Press. So far, only an afternoon speech is planned, but politicking hasn’t been ruled out, especially as the Senate race becomes more competitive. Lenny Alcivar, Kennedy’s spokesman, says nothing specific is planned. The treasurer, however, will be in attendance. As of press time, the campaign also was checking on coordinating a joint appearance with the Republican Party’s likely presidential nominee John McCain, scheduled to be in New Orleans on Tuesday.
Cravins guards against attack on offshore drilling
Democratic congressional candidate Don Cravins Jr. isn’t going to wait for his opponent to hit him on offshore drilling. Given the spotlight the Republican Party and U.S. Rep. Charles Boustany have put on the issue, Cravins’ campaign is assuming it’s inevitable. In a campaign e-mail blast last week titled “Grandstanding at its Best,” Cravins’ Communications Director Richard Carbo emphasized Cravins’ support for opening up the Outer Continental Shelf to more drilling. “I wanted to let you know Don’s clear position on this issue before there are attempts (and there will be attempts) to make you think otherwise,” Carbo writes. The e-mail concludes: “I hope you will reject their attempts this week to place blame on one party or person while they play political games. The time of placing blame and attempting to scare us into supporting them is over. The 7th district is alive and well and will not be fooled anymore.”
Congressman Boustany recently joined Republican colleagues in the House chamber — while Congress is in recess — as part of a protest calling on Democratic House Speaker Nancy Pelosi to bring Congress back in session and allow for a vote on offshore drilling, and other energy production issues. “This is in his official capacity as a congressman,” says Boustany spokesman Rick Curtsinger. “It’s not an attack on anyone other than the speaker for not bringing up a vote. We would certainly welcome anyone who called on the speaker to call the House back into session to take up meaningful energy legislation. We’d appreciate any support in that effort.”
Contacted by The Independent, Carbo says it wasn’t certain Boustany planned to use the platform to criticize Cravins. “We’re just going off of how historically [Republicans] try to characterize the Democratic Party as one,” he says. “Rather than wait for him to come at us saying we are just one of the Democrats that is against offshore drilling, we wanted to state our position before they even had a chance to do that.”
Contributors: Jeremy Alford and Nathan Stubbs
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