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Monday, August 09, 2004

Hastert on Keyes: I Was Out of Town...

Speaker of the House, Dennis Hastert- master of the sport analogy, gave one of weakest endorsements of Alan Keyes during this revealing exchange with "little" Russ on this Sunday's Meet the Press.

MR. RUSSERT: Alan Keyes of Maryland is going to be the Republican candidate for the Senate from Illinois. Why should, why did the Republican Party of Illinois say, "We can't find any Republicans in our state to run for the Senate. We had to go to Maryland to find somebody"?

REP. HASTERT: Well, it's kind of like New York going to Arkansas, I guess, to find a U.S. senator, but anyway, let's--look, look, look.

MR. RUSSERT: But it's interesting you said that because Alan Keyes...

REP. HASTERT: Well, let me...

MR. RUSSERT: ...was asked to run for the Senate in New York the same year Hillary Clinton ran in 2000 and this is what Alan Keyes had to say. "I deeply resent the destruction of federalism represented by Hillary Clinton's willingness to go into a state she doesn't even live in and pretend to represent people there. So I certainly wouldn't imitate it." If it was the destruction of federalism for Hillary Clinton to do it, why is it not the destruction of federalism for Alan Keyes of Maryland to run in Illinois?

REP. HASTERT: You know, I reminded Alan when I talked to him for the first time the other day about that statement, and I said, "You know, I guess we all regret things we've said in the past." And I think he probably will, too. But, you know, the fact is Hillary Clinton was elected to the U.S. Senate in New York, and now she's talked about being a potential U.S. presidential candidate in the future. So it really hasn't hurt her too much or New York, from what I see. The point is: How do we get there?

You know, I liken it as an old coaching philosophy, I guess. Here's a story. As a head coach, you know, you put together your football team, and you got your starting quarterback and your best running back and your line and your defense. You're all ready to go. Season starts, and your running back has an infraction with the law and does something wrong, and he's gone from the team. And then you got to go down to the second and third and fourth levels. I spent five weeks trying to find good people, everywhere from a good state senator that we had by the name of Steve Rauschenberger, who I thought he could have...

MR. RUSSERT: But you're drafting someone from another state.

REP. HASTERT: But wait. Wait. Well, let me go down through the process. And, you know, he didn't have enough money. I talked to Mike Ditka, and I decided maybe he made a good decision. I talked to a guy name Gary Fenzig, who was a great star, Harvard-Yale, star for the Chicago Bears. He couldn't. And the problem in Illinois, you've got to have $10 million to run; $6 million or $7 million of that has to be done for name I.D. I got down last week to interviewing a 70-year-old guy, who was a great farm broadcaster in Illinois. He decided since his health problems--he couldn't do it. You know, we were down--we needed to find somebody to run, somebody who wanted to run. And, you know, Alan Keyes wants to run, and I hope he's a good candidate.

Hastert has to hope he is a good candidate since he had go so deep into the bench to find him. So to deconstruct the sports analogy: Running back Jack "trying to screw in public" Ryan gets busted; they turn to 2nd-string Steve "not enough cash" Rauschenberger; next to refuse is 3rd-string Mike "I got a business to run" Ditka; then on to Gary "I couldn't" Fenzig; not to forget the 70-year-old "I don't even have a name" Radio Guy; finally Allen Keyes seems acceptable.

Doesn't that make him the sixth-string player. Thank God they have such a deep bench although what is Hastert thinking by alluding to Ditka as third-string? Even so, Russert wonders about Keyes as the match up to Obama.

MR. RUSSERT: He has obviously a much different view on those issues. But it gives the impression that Barack Obama, a black state senator from Illinois, Democrat, you went to Maryland to find a black to run against the Democratic black.

REP. HASTERT: Well, I tell you what, I was out of town when that happened. That--sure. But I went five levels. I've been working for five weeks trying to find a candidate. Here we are.

I was out of town...And here we are. It just bears repeating.