Colleague calls attack on Young 'totally baseless'

Published March 31, 2007

WASHINGTON - A Democratic lawmaker criticized Karen Thurman, the party's Florida chairwoman, for making a "totally baseless attack" on Republican Rep. C.W. Bill Young over his activities involving Walter Reed Army Medical Center.

"As a Democrat, I am embarrassed that the assault originated with the chairwoman of the Florida Democratic Party," Rep. Neil Abercrombie, D-Hawaii, wrote in a letter to the St. Petersburg Times. "I reject her comments completely. She certainly does not speak for me or anyone who has been privileged to know Bill Young and his wife Beverly."

Abercrombie said no one in Congress "has done more personally or been more dedicated to the welfare of our wounded soldiers than Bill Young, both as a leader of the House Appropriations Committee and as a human being."

Thurman has criticized Young for not doing more to call attention to problems at Walter Reed.

In his letter, Abercrombie said it was wrong for Thurman to "use the plight of injured American soldiers as the basis for scurrilous attacks."

Retirement rumors

Democratic operatives have been calling attention to reports that Young, who has served since 1971, might retire. They have also been trying to recruit candidates to run against him should he decide to seek another term.

On Friday, Democrats highlighted a newly released PowerPoint presentation from the White House that lists Young as a lawmaker who might retire.

He is 76 and was hospitalized for two nights last weekend because of dehydration caused by a stomach ailment. He said Friday he is back to normal.

Young has not given a timetable on when he will decide whether to seek another term. He said he has not had any conversations with anyone in the Bush administration about his plans and that his inclusion in that list is merely speculative.

He said the last time he discussed his political plans with the White House was in the 1980s when Ronald Reagan unsuccessfully tried to get him to run for governor.

Washington bureau chief Bill Adair can be reached at adair@sptimes.com or 202 463-0575.