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  Hastert Tries Damage Control After Remarks Hit a Nerve
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Last EditedRP  Sep 02, 2005 10:29pm
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MediaNewspaper - Washington Post
News DateSunday, September 4, 2005 04:00:00 AM UTC0:0
DescriptionHouse Speaker J. Dennis Hastert began his day yesterday explaining that he really does not want to see New Orleans bulldozed, and he ended it defending his absence from the Capitol when Congress approved a $10.5 billion hurricane aid package. In between, a former president hinted he would like to throttle the Illinois Republican.

Hastert again tried to smooth things over. Shortly after a small number of House members unanimously approved the $10.5 billion relief plan at about 1 p.m., he issued a statement saying, "Our prayers and sympathies continue to be with the victims of Hurricane Katrina. In times like these, it is more important than ever for Americans to stand united in helping our fellow citizens."

But there was one problem: Hastert was not in Washington, and his top lieutenants had to oversee the vote. He was in Indiana attending a colleague's fundraiser, staff members said, and he later attended an antique car auction.

By 4 p.m., Hastert had reached the Capitol, eager to explain his tardiness and to try again to show his solidarity with Katrina's victims. The Indiana fundraiser, he told reporters, had been on his schedule "for a long, long time."
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