Rep. Foley Scandal Makes Hypocrites Out of G.O.P. Congress?

Reporter Raymond Hernandez, who is off the pro-Hillary Clinton beat and is now helping to covering Congress from D.C., uses the Rep. Mark Foley scandal to help Democrats paint Republicans as hypocrites in Monday's "Democrats See a Chance to Turn the Tables."

"In their efforts to keep their party in power, Republican leaders have not hesitated to hit the Democrats hard when it comes to the issue of protecting children."

Taking on the story from a sharply pro-Democratic angle, Hernandez scours the map to find G.O.P. campaign ads in obscure congressional races that happen to bring up child protection issues.

"The strategy was on display in Indiana, where the National Republican Congressional Committee recently ran a series of television spots showing a man accused of child molesting who was inadvertently released under the watch of Brad Ellsworth, a county sheriff and a Democratic candidate for Congress.

"Now, Democrats are suddenly seeing an opportunity to turn the tables, questioning the actions of Representative Thomas M. Reynolds of New York, the chairman of the Congressional committee, and other top Republicans who have acknowledged that they had been aware for months of e-mail exchanges between Representative Mark Foley, a Florida Republican, and a former teenage page.

"In a statement issued over the weekend, Mr. Reynolds said that when he first learned of the issue, he personally brought it to the attention of House Speaker J. Dennis Hastert. Republican leaders have described the e-mail messages that initially came to their attention as 'over-friendly' and said that they were not sexually explicit, like the messages between Mr. Foley and other pages that were disclosed later.

"But Democrats are accusing Republican leaders of keeping silent about Mr. Foley and allowing him to remain as chairman of the House Caucus on Missing and Exploited Children until the disclosure on Friday of the more sexually explicit e-mail messages."

Hernandez's tone suggests helpless Democrats are the victim of unfair "tactics" by Republicans.

"After years of defending themselves against Republican charges that they are soft on crime and generally out of step with the nation's values, Democrats are criticizing Republicans on one of their core issues. While commercials and mailings attacking Democrats as weak on issues like child protection appear to occur only sporadically, Democrats contend that it is a tactic that Republicans fall back on regularly.

"Bill Burton, a spokesman for the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, said concerns about the Republican leadership's handling of the accusations made their campaign attacks on Democrats seem hypocritical."