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White House Denies Dem Congressman’s Stories

From the Appleton (WI) Post-Crescent:

White House dismisses story of Kagen visit

January 11, 2007

By Brian Tumulty

WASHINGTON — The White House labeled as "ridiculous" a story U.S. Rep. Steve Kagen told constituents about the reported verbal barbs he delivered to President and Mrs. Bush six days after the November election.

President Bush, political adviser Karl Rove and Vice President Dick Cheney were among the many Republicans who campaigned against Kagen, a political novice who used $2.57 million of his personal wealth as a physician to win the open seat representing northeast Wisconsin.

Kagen, D-Appleton, was among a group of freshman lawmakers invited to the White House on Nov. 13 for an evening reception that included taking photos with Bush and his wife, Laura.

The reception culminated the first day of orientation week for newly elected members of Congress.

Kagen, still hurting from the hard campaign, reportedly took note that Bush had come to Green Bay to campaign against him and congratulated the president for helping him win in an indirect reference to Bush’s low approval rating. Kagen then reportedly greeted the president’s wife, Laura Bush, by intentionally using the first name of the president’s mother, Barbara, instead.

"I did that because I learned on the campaign trail that the meanest thing you can say to another gentleman is, ‘He’s a fine fellow.’ And then you refer to his spouse by a different name," Kagen is reported to have told a local peace activist group who visited his Appleton campaign office Dec. 19.

In addition, Kagen reportedly told the activists he held the door to a White House men’s room closed when he was alone with Rove.

"You’re in the White House and think you’re safe, huh?" Kagen was said to have told Rove. "You recognize me? My name’s Dr. Multimillionaire and I kicked your ass."

Rove responded by offering Kagen his congratulations, according to a story published last week in The Scene, a monthly alternative publication that circulates in the Fox Valley.

But a White House official who asked to not be identified said Wednesday evening that Kagen’s story "is not the way it happened at all. He did not call the first lady Barbara. He did not block the door to the men’s room."

Jim Lundstrom, managing editor of The Scene, said he attended the Dec. 19 meeting Kagen had with peace activists and recorded Kagen’s comments on tape.

"I kept waiting for a punch line," Lundstrom said. "I thought he was telling a joke. It got a lot of laughs though."

Ronna Swift, one of the peace activists at the meeting, said she had no reason to suspect Kagen was untruthful with the group. "I’m quite sure that those are true stories," she said.

Kagen, who was interviewed by Gannett News Service while he ate lunch the day after his White House visit, mentioned at that time he received congratulations from Rove, talked to Cheney about Iraq and had his photograph taken with President Bush.

And during that interview, Kagen described the recently ended campaign as similar to "a knife fight" in which there are no rules because "anyone can go on television and lie." He was particularly disturbed by TV ads during the last few days of the campaign that charged he did not accept Medicare patients in his medical practice — a charge that was rebuked in a response ad.

"I’ll see them again and they’ll see me again," Kagen said at that time. "Now we know what the rules are."

Now that Kagen’s longer story about his White House visit is getting publicity on talk radio and among political bloggers, he won’t comment on whether he referred to Laura Bush as Barbara.

"I’m going to leave that one alone," Kagen said Wednesday. Asked why, he said, "I’ll make no comment." As for his exchange with Rove, Kagen said he can verify that they met in the men’s room and that Rove congratulated him. But he wouldn’t comment on his reported comments to Rove.

"You are talking how many weeks ago?" Kagen asked. "I couldn’t verify the accuracy of that."

Great. Another mentally unstable Democrat.

This article was posted by Steve on Friday, January 12th, 2007. Comments are currently closed.

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