HOUSE GOP MUST PLAY `HARDBALL,' ROLLINS SAYS

House Speaker Thomas Foley (D) of Washington may want to get along with Republicans. But the question is: Do they want to get along with him? If Republicans are serious about changing their minority status in the House of Representatives, says Edward Rollins, director of the Republican Congressional Campaign Committee, then ``you've got to make war on the Democrats, and you can't wait until the last 16 days'' before the election.

Republicans are increasingly inclined to run against Congress itself, where incumbents have become nearly impossible to unseat.

The public now senses an environment there of ``abuses of power,'' Mr. Rollins says.

But GOP tactics backfired this week when a Republican Party official circulated a memo that cagily promoted a scandalous innuendo about Speaker Foley's personal life. [The Associated Press reported Wednesday that President Bush was ``disgusted'' by the Republican document, which labeled Foley a ``closet'' liberal, Mr. Bush's spokesman said. The author of the memo resigned his party post.]

``You make mistakes when you're aggressive,'' says Rollins, who vowed not to take part in such practices.

But if Rollins vows to play fair, he notes, the game is still hardball. He says bipartisan politeness may be good for passing legislation, but it does not help Republicans unseat Democrats in elections.

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