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The National Republican Congressional Committee, expanding a new line of attack against House Democrats, says it is beaming automated telephone calls into Rep. Steny Hoyer's southern Maryland district that accuse the House Majority Leader of being a Pelosi puppet.

The robo calls say Hoyer has voted with Pelosi "99.6% of the time" (hardly a shocker, since they are the top two Democratic leaders in the House). The woman's voice on the call also points out that Hoyer voted to block an investigation into Pelosi's claim that the CIA lied to Congress about its use of torture tactics (not only that--Hoyer was the one who actually made the formal motion to reject a Republican attempt to investigate Pelosi's claim; Democrats voted unanimously in favor of Hoyer's motion).

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"Tell him to stop voting to protect Nancy Pelosi," says the Republican "important voter alert."

Hoyer has, in fact, gone out of his way to defend Pelosi. That sort of loyalty would be required of a top Democratic leader in any case. In this instance, it was particularly necessary. Hoyer had to shoot down speculation that Pelosi's job was in jeopardy and that he would move up to take her place.

Robo calls are a cheap way for the Republicans to hector a leading Democrat, which is probably a good thing for the GOP (the low price, that is), since Hoyer's seat doesn't seem to be in any jeopardy.The calls are part of a broader NRCC effort to tie House Democrats to their less than wildly popular speaker with a series of taped phone messages and radio and TV ads.

According to the NRCC, Democrats whose constituents will be hearing radio attack ads include Reps. Suzanne Kosmas of Florida, Glenn Nye and Tom Perriello of Virginia; Stephanie Herseth Sandlin of South Dakota, Vic Snyder of Arkansas and Harry Teague of New Mexico.

Republicans said that robo calls are going out to the districts of Democratic Reps. John Boccierri of Ohio, Bobby Bright of Alabama, John Hall of New York, Ann Kirkpatrick and Harry Mitchell of Arizona, Walt Minnick of Idaho, Mark Schauer of Michigan, Steve Kagen of Wisconsin and Larry Kissell of North Carolina.

Most of those on the hit list are considered potentially vulnerable in next year's congressional elections.

The latest attacks come the heels of a new Republican TV campaign against Democratic Rep. Frank Kratovil, which starts airing today in Maryland's first district. See the previous entry in Maryland Politics (click the link at the top of this page) for details.

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