Top Republican candidates rally in Butler County

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Copyright 2006 Associated Press
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The Associated Press State & Local Wire

October 14, 2006 Saturday 5:57 PM GMT

SECTION: POLITICAL NEWS

LENGTH: 428 words

HEADLINE: Top Republican candidates rally in Butler County

BYLINE: By DAN SEWELL, Associated Press Writer

DATELINE: HAMILTON Ohio

BODY:

House Majority Leader John Boehner and other top Ohio Republicans rallied supporters in a key southwest Ohio county Saturday, amid a series of scandals involving Republicans and polls indicating tight or uphill battles across the state.

“A lot of people want to write off this election,” Boehner told more than 100 people at Butler County Republican Party headquarters before volunteers fanned out with yard signs, rolls of stickers and campaign door hangers. “I’m here to tell you that elections are not won or lost on what the polls say. Elections are won or lost based on who shows up to vote.”

Boehner faces questioning in the House ethics committee investigation of the page scandal unfolding since Florida Republican Rep. Mark Foley resigned Sept. 29 over inappropriate instant messages sent to a former page in 2003.

Boehner told reporters Saturday the investigation is “being handled as it should.” He said he didn’t know earlier of the messages that prompted Foley’s departure and suspects their release was timed politically.

“I had no knowledge. I don’t think the speaker or anybody else in the leadership had any knowledge of these sexually explicit messages,” Boehner said. “The question is who did know? Why did they show up when they did?”

The page scandal so far isn’t affecting Republican races, “save a few,” Boehner said, acknowledging that Ohio Republican Deborah Pryce’s is one of those. Democrat Mary Jo Kilroy has run a radio ad highlighting Pryce’s friendship with Foley.

During the rally, Boehner pointed to a hot stock market and lower gas prices and said the economy and national security are winning issues for Republicans. Butler County is his home county, and was pivotal in President Bush’s 2004 victory in Ohio by delivering a 52,000-vote margin.

Among other participants were two-term Sen. Mike DeWine, in a close race with Democratic Rep. Sherrod Brown, and gubernatorial nominee Ken Blackwell, who has been trailing Democratic Rep. Ted Strickland in polls. GOP Gov. Bob Taft’s administration has been clouded by ethics questions, GOP fundraiser Tom Noe is on trial for allegedly stealing from a state investment, and Republican Ohio Rep. Bob Ney pleaded guilty Friday to charges linking him to a Washington influence-peddling scandal.

Auditor Betty Montgomery, the attorney general nominee, likened the GOP’s to Ohio State’s top-ranked college football team and said it was time for a second-half rally.

“There is no reason to believe that we are down and out,” she said, saying the Republicans can “take a smug Democratic Party and whup ‘em.”

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