Majority think Hastert tried to cover up scandal

Published: Saturday October 7, 2006

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According to a new Newsweek poll, a majority of Americans think that Republican House Speaker Dennis Hastert tried to cover up the Foley scandal.

Newsweek reports that the "Foley fiasco is jeopardizing the party’s monopoly on faith and power."

"While 52 percent of Americans believe Hastert was aware of Foley’s actions and tried to cover them up, it’s part of a larger loss of faith in Republican leadership, thanks mostly to the war in Iraq," Marcus Mabry writes. "For instance, for the first time in the NEWSWEEK poll, a majority of Americans now believe the Bush administration knowingly misled the American people in building its case for war against Saddam Hussein: 58 percent vs. 36 percent who believe it didn’t."

"And pessimism over Iraq is at record highs on every score: nearly two in three Americans, 64 percent, believe the United States is losing ground there; 66 percent say the war has not made America safer from terrorism (just 29 percent believe it has); and 53 percent believe it was a mistake to go to war at all, again the first time the NEWSWEEK poll has registered a majority in that camp," the article continues.

(Full poll results at this link)

Excerpts from article:


For the first time since 2001, the NEWSWEEK poll shows that more Americans trust the Democrats than the GOP on moral values and the war on terror. Fully 53 percent of Americans want the Democrats to win control of Congress next month, including 10 percent of Republicans, compared to just 35 percent who want the GOP to retain power. If the election were held today, 51 percent of likely voters would vote for the Democrat in their district versus 39 percent who would vote for the Republican. And while the race is closer among male voters (46 percent for the Democrats vs. 42 percent for the Republicans), the Democrats lead among women voters 56 to 34 percent.

The pace of the news on the Foley scandal is making it difficult for Republicans to stop their slide. On Thursday, House Speaker Dennis Hastert declared that mistakes were made in handling the Foley case and that he would remain in his post to make sure the misdeeds were thoroughly investigated. Almost immediately, ABC News reported that three more former pages had come forward to say that they had received suggestive e-mails and instant messages from Foley. And just as Republicans were attempting to form a united front to paint the timing of the Foley revelations as Democratic dirty tricks-What did Nancy Pelosi know and when did she know it?-the Republicans got a fratricidal shot out of the dark-on Iraq. Virginia Republican Sen. John Warner declared that the United States had 90 days to quell the violence in Iraq, or risk losing the war. To top it off, on Friday an aide to Karl Rove resigned over the Jack Abramoff influence-peddling and corruption scandal.

Meanwhile, the president’s approval rating has fallen to a new all-time low for the Newsweek poll: 33 percent, down from an already anemic 36 percent in August. Only 25 percent of Americans are satisfied with the direction of the country, while 67 percent say they are not. Foley’s disgrace certainly plays a role in Republican unpopularity: 27 percent of registered voters say the scandal and how the Republican leadership in the House handled it makes them less likely to vote for a Republican Congressional candidate; but 65 percent say it won’t make much difference in determining how they vote. And Americans are equally divided over whether or not Speaker Hastert should resign over mishandling the situation (43 percent say he should, but 36 percent say he shouldn’t).