In Buffalo, even the chairman of the House GOP election effort is struggling to hold on to his seat. Rep. Thomas M. Reynolds is trying to overcome criticism that he did not do enough to stop inappropriate relationships between congressional pages and former representative Mark Foley (R-Fla.).
On Tuesday in Buffalo, leaders of a private club and writers at the city's newspaper got unusual visits from the third-ranking official at the CIA. The stops by Michael J. Morell, the associate deputy director of the agency, were arranged by Anthony Gioia, a longtime Bush fundraiser and a donor to Reynolds. Morell spoke about the war in Iraq and the fight against terrorism. CIA officials rarely make such appearances.
Asked about the timing, CIA spokesman Mark Mansfield said, "Politics had no bearing whatsoever on Mr. Morell's acceptance of an invitation to give a speech in Buffalo or when to give it." He added, "No one dispatched him."