Friday, October 27, 2006


"Don't Mess With Jeff"


They line up to kiss him, hug him, slap hands, give him their blessing. William Jefferson, an eight-term House Democrat enmeshed in an FBI bribery investigation, is feeling good about his re-election prospects.

"All right!" a relaxed Jefferson warbles into the ear of a female supporter who offers her cheek to his puckered lips. "How are you?" she asks, one of several fans at the entrance of a nursing home he's picked as a campaign stop.

"Doing fine, doing fine," Jefferson repeats like a line he's picked up from a self-help manual on being upbeat. He moves onto the next body, the next warm exchange. More hugs, more kisses, more brotherly love.

Down here, allegations of wrongdoing aren't necessarily the kiss of death for politicians.

"All of them are doing basically the same thing - but he just got caught," Herman Hill, 53, said about Jefferson.

Wearing a "Don't Mess With Jeff" campaign pin, Hill grinned when asked to explain his views on politicians: "They're stealing. They say they want to help people, but they're helping themselves."

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