GOP Cold Feet on Elian (posted May 1, 2000)

Last week, House and Senate Republicans were poised to start hearings into the federal government raid to reunite six-year-old Cuban boy Elian Gonzales with his father. Proclaiming the raid was an egregious abuse of police power, GOP members of Congress promised a scathing inquiry into Attorney General Janet Reno's handling of the affair.

However, now that public opinion polls are showing the American public supportive of the reunification of father and son, Republicans have announced a postponement of the planned-for hearings. It is just one more sign that congressional Republicans are unsure of their proper message for the 2000 election. Worried about a possible voter backlash and concerned that hearings would reinforce public fears about the GOP siding with Cuban-American extremists in Florida, Republicans are abandoning the course they set up just one week ago. Unless congressional Republicans display more political dexterity in dealing with new developments, they are not going to retain control of the House of Representatives, which they control by a narrow, six-seat margin.