Nation: The House: Aiming at the Leaders

The Targets Are Mo and Al

Some 30 years ago Speaker of the House Sam Rayburn of Texas was asked by a fellow Democrat to campaign in Massachusetts against Republican Leader Joe Martin. Snapped Rayburn: "Speak against Joe Martin? Hell, if I lived up there, I'd vote for him!"

For generations, that has been the gentlemanly tradition. Despite their sometimes fiery fights in the House, the leaders of the two parties—the top half-dozen men in the House on both sides of the aisle—have not tried to unseat each other. The idea of doing so...

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