One Slippery Elephant

  • Share
  • Read Later

WASHINGTON: As beefy as Haley Barbour is, he's a hard man to pin down. In testimony Thursday before the Senate campaign fund-raising inquiry, the former RNC chairman dismissed charges that he used the National Policy Forum to funnel a $1.6 million 'loan repayment' into RNC coffers as "infuriatingly phony" and "outright false." Barbour even tried to turn the tables on Democrat John Glenn by coyly referring to the senator's own experience on the other side of the microphone during the 1989 "Keating Five" investigation. "I understand very well the resentment that boiled up in you during that inquiry," Barbour said, "but I'm going to do my best to keep my own outrage under control." Glenn smiled thinly. Barbour, whose Herculean fundraising efforts before the 1994 elections paid off during friendly Republican questioning, doggedly compared the NPF to the Democratic Leadership Council, a party forum headed by one of his questioners, Sen. Joseph Lieberman. And while everyone seemed to be having fun, Barbour's deposition testimony of a week ago, rife with troubling contradictions to yesterday's testimony by Michael Baroody, dissipated wanly Thursday into a mist of one-liners and vague denials. "I cannot tell you what the Democrats did and didn't do, but I can tell you the Republicans did not purposely, knowingly or intentionally violate any law," Barbour said at one point. "You know, senators, I was born at night, but it wasn't last night . . . I understand politics a little bit." To say the least.