Katherine Harris proclaims her innocence, disappears from view

Monday, March 06, 2006 at 05:02 PM

Showing no fear of the growling that surrounded her, Katherine Harris last week declared her complete innocence of all wrongdoing in having met with Mitchell Wade, the defense contractor who bribed Duke Cunningham.  She declared her innocence of all wrongdoing in having taken $32,000 in illegal campaign donations from Wade.  She declared her innocence of all wrongdoing in having submitted a $10 million dollar budget request to fund the project she discussed with Wade.  She saw no wrongdoing in one of her aides shortly thereafter going to work for Wade's company.

In a conference call last Friday, she said "There is nothing to it except for the press trying to be negative."

This week, she's invisible, even though still running for the Republican Senate nomination in Florida.

The headline "Harris Cancels Election Trips" says it all.

Harris, who is running for the U.S. Senate, abruptly canceled a stop in Charlotte County on Saturday, and four other events planned for Lee and Collier counties were removed from her campaign Web site.

It's another sign that Harris' struggling campaign is in full crisis mode. Political consultants say that shying away from the public now is also bad strategy.

"She can't hide and expect this to go away," said David Johnson, a Republican political consultant. "It looks like her campaign is circling the wagons."

Want the sickest take on the situation so far?  Try this: Larry Sabato, director for the Center for Politics at the University of Virginia, says that the best thing going for Harris is that most Americans think Washington is so corrupt Harris hasn't done anything abnormal. "Most people think everyone in Congress takes bundles of cash from contractors and may see nothing outrageous about a contractor asking Harris for favors over dinner, he said."

But, showing the same grit and pluck that delivered the state of Florida to the brother of that state's governor, another report states that

Those who know Harris, however, say the congresswoman is in the race for the long haul and has no intension of pulling out.

"She seems determined," said Susan McManus, a political science professor at the University of South Florida, who said she has recently spoken to Harris. "She says she's going for it. Whatever happens happens."

Pluck and grit and those shifty eyes so fiercely fixed on the prize.  Too bad there's no chance she can get the US Supreme Court to intervene.  Or am I making an unwarranted assumption?