Despite flagging public opinion of the war in Iraq, Rep. Randy Kuhl, R-N.Y., unwavers in his support for the administration. His Democratic challenger Eric Massa opposes the war and is banking on support from voters fed up with the president's policy.
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In any other midterm election year, Republican freshman Randy Kuhl might have little trouble retaining his congressional seat.
After decades in the State Assembly and Senate, Kuhl, here at the Grape Festival in Naples, is well-known in his western New York district. It's one of the largest east of the Mississippi and one of the poorest in New York State. It's lost thousands of high-paid manufacturing jobs in recent years, but has remained solidly Republican.
But opinion polls reflect what's being seen in many other parts of the country: The war in Iraq and the president's low approval ratings are making life tough for Republican incumbents this year. And with nothing less than Republican control of Congress at stake, Vice President Cheney gave the Kuhl campaign a personal boost last week, headlining a fundraiser that reaped $175,000 for Kuhl's campaign.
Political scientist Jim Bowers of St. John Fisher College said Kuhl's appearance with Cheney may have been a gamble in the current political climate.
JAMES BOWERS, St. John Fisher College:
If I had been advising him, I would have said, "Support the White House if you feel you need to, but stay away from the personalities. And basically explain your war record, come home — do what we call home sell — explain your votes. Explain why you're supporting, but then basically avoid being seen with these people.
When we caught up with Kuhl at Farm City Day in North Cohocton to ask him about the Iraq war, he was unwavering in his position.
REP. RANDY KUHL (R), New York: I don't see us sending up the white flag, and walking away, and encouraging, you know, these radical Muslims, jihadists to actually come in and have a safe haven for all of them, take over a country that they then can launch attacks not only on us, but some of our other allies who are there, too.