Bilirakis staff rattled by Busansky Foley-Scandal ad
The speculation about how the Foley scandal will impact GOP candidates in November continues, but it clearly rattled Gus Bilirakis' campagin staff this week. (LA Times cites recent scrambling in FL-9 as example of toll today)
This week, Democrat Phyllis Busansky released two mini-ads featuring excepts from a recent story in The Hill: "GOP Candidates Lukewarm in Support for Hastert." Bilirakis was among several asked if they plan to support Hastert when party leaders are chosen in mid-Nov, the story said:
"We have no stance on that right now—we'll worry about that after we win," said Bilirakis.
Immediately, Bilirakis' staff shifted into damage control mode. They visited 3 local television stations to urge them not to air Busansky's ad, his deputy campaign manager Liz Hittos said. They issued a scathing statement - attacking Busansky for miscasting Bilirakis' quote as a reaction to Foley's indiscretions (rather than a response to a question about Hastert). The campaign also lashed out at The Hill; The DC-based newspaper had attibuted the quote to Bilirakis when it had really come from a "low level staffer." Hittos told the Tampa Tribune. Who was this "this low-level staffer"?
"That would be me," Bilirkas' campaign manager, Robert Whitney, told the Times on Friday. Whitney's account of the phone call with the Hill:
Whitney conveyed Bilirakis' statement:"I take nothing for granted and I'm worried about winning this election first."
The Hill asked: "So you have no stance at this time?"
Whitney responds: "We have no stance on that right now, we'll worry about that after we win."