Rohrabacher's premonition about opposition came true. On Jan. 26 and 27, the congressman's aides encouraged the news media to publish allegations that his plan had drawn a telephoned death threat. In a retort likely to show up in his direct-mail pieces, Rohrabacher told his former colleagues at The Orange County Registerthat he would not be "frightened or terrorized" while protecting America.
Buried in the frenzy was Dornan's legitimate campaign issue. Following the Jan. 21 knockout punch, nobody's asking Rohrabacher about his mysterious friendship with Abdurahman Alamoudi. U.S. anti-terrorism officers arrested Alamoudi in September after he allegedly accepted a briefcase stuffed with $340,000 from terrorists working for al-Qaeda and Libyan dictator Moammar Gadhafi.
At a January Republican Women's Club function in Palos Verdes, Rohrabacher pretended he'd never heard of Alamoudi. So let's remind him: the terrorist suspect has eaten dinner with Rohrabacher and handed him awards for supporting Arab causes. He and his associates have also given the congressman more than $15,500 in contributions over the years and paid for several of his trips to Arab countries.
But such deception doesn't matter when there's an election to win. On Fox, O'Reilly marveled happily at "the emotion surrounding" the illegal-immigrant issue. "I believe that that issue is the single most important thing that ignited the recall [of Governor Gray Davis]," said O'Reilly.
The Fox host wasn't telling Rohrabacher anything he didn't already know. The congressman, who hasn't yet summoned the courage to debate Dornan, smiled. Was he daydreaming about the knockout punch he landed on Dornan's chin? Was he laughing to himself that he'd outflanked Dornan on the right? Or was he just relieved that he'd once again evaded questions about his ties to suspected terrorists?