Desperate times call for desperate measures

With polls spelling trouble for the GOP, one Republican representative says she'd slap her opponent -- if only he weren't in a wheelchair.

Published October 24, 2006 1:33PM (EDT)

A new Washington Post/ABC News poll says that Republicans are losing independents fast and that Democrats now have a narrow polling advantage even in states George W. Bush carried in 2004.

You think the pressure is starting to get to anyone?

As the Associated Press reports, Republican Wyoming Rep. Barbara Cubin, in a closer reelection race than she probably anticipated, wasn't very happy when Libertarian candidate Thomas Rankin repeatedly mentioned during a debate Sunday night that Cubin had received $22,000 from Tom DeLay's Americans for a Republican Majority PAC.

After the debate, she made her way over to Rankin, who suffers from multiple sclerosis and uses an electric wheelchair, to have what we in the business call a frank exchange. "My aide and I were packing up to leave the debate," Rankin says, "and Barbara walked over to me and said, 'If you weren't sitting in that chair, I'd slap you across the face.'"

Cubin won't talk about the incident. Her spokesman issued a classic non-denial denial: "Mr. Rankin misrepresented Mrs. Cubin's positions and insulted her integrity during the debate. When she approached him after the debate, he said something not very complimentary. She responded. It was a private conversation. She's over it. Just last week, she had an art center for the developmentally disabled named in her honor. Anyone who knows her knows she would never lash out at someone unprovoked. She believes voters are sick of this type of political maneuvering. She has nothing more to say."

By Tim Grieve

Tim Grieve is a senior writer and the author of Salon's War Room blog.

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