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Schrock Waves

Liberal and Republican gay rights groups alike had mixed reactions Tuesday to the abrupt resignation of Rep. Ed Schrock (R-Va.). They said they were pleased to see a sponsor of the federal marriage amendment leave office, yet angry that his sudden retirement appears to have been prompted by an outing campaign. [IMGCAP(1)]

Schrock, a Baptist who is married with a grown son, refuses to talk to reporters about the outing

campaign’s allegations that he is secretly gay, or about whether such charges led him to resign. His chief of staff, Tom Gordy, told HOH that there is “no point” in Schrock answering a gay activist’s Web-based allegations, saying the Congressman would not allow the “politics of personal destruction to play a role.”

Asked whether the charges are true, including whether Schrock frequented gay telephone chat lines, Gordy said, “That is a question I’m not going to answer. The Congressman and I have not discussed it.”

Mike Rogers, who has single-handedly waged the outing campaign against allegedly closeted gay Members of Congress and gay staffers, has tape recordings on his Web site of a man he says is Schrock leaving messages on gay chat lines seeking sex with other men.

The man on the tapes describes himself as “very buff” and says he’s looking for a guy who is equally as fit and who would be “very discreet.” Rogers says he is “150 percent positive” that the man on those tapes is the Congressman. The activist is taking credit for Schrock’s resignation.

The conservative lawmaker’s surprise announcement, which came Monday — the first day of the Republican convention — stirred controversy in the hallways around Madison Square Garden, especially among gay delegates and activists.

“We disagree strongly with the outing campaign, but we also disagree strongly with Congressman Schrock’s sponsorship of the anti-family federal marriage amendment,” said Patrick Guerriero, executive director of Log Cabin Republicans.

Cheryl Jacques, president of the liberal Human Rights Campaign, had a similar reaction, saying she is “thrilled that a co-sponsor of the Federal Marriage Amendment will no longer be serving,” but adding that she opposes the practice of outing people.

Rogers says Schrock’s resignation is “just the tip of the iceberg” of what is to come. Rogers, as well as more mainstream gay activists, all say they expect another Republican lawmaker to step down from Congress — perhaps before the end of the GOP convention.

“We’re expecting more. We certainly are,” one prominent gay rights advocate said.

Rangel Hosts Republicans. Rep. Charlie Rangel (D-N.Y.) says he’s always delighted to host “out of towners” in Gotham City, even if they happen to be tens of thousands of Republicans. And even if they happen to mistake Rangel for just about every other black politician or celebrity.

Rangel says he has signed autographs for people thinking he was the Rev. Jesse Jackson, the Rev. Al Sharpton and even Bill Cosby.

“They come to me and I just sign the autographs,” Rangel said, laughing about his newfound fame. “I’m looking for Don King, because someone asked me to sign for him, too.”

With tongue stuck solidly in cheek, Rangel added, “It’s an educational experience for [the Republicans] to know there’s more than one black delegate at the convention.”

Rangel has been giving TV interviews around the Garden. On Monday he appeared on CNN’s “Crossfire” with Rep. David Dreier (R-Calif.), the convention parliamentarian. Rangel used the television appearance to “welcome” Dreier, who is a good friend of the New York liberal, and his GOP colleagues to New York.

“They tell me they’re having a wonderful time,” Rangel said, adding, “I hope they keep shopping.”

Drilling? Commerce Secretary Don Evans got to offer a lighter side of President Bush Monday afternoon, when he did a quick interview on the convention floor with a pair of correspondents from NBC’s Tonight Show.

Steve Schirripa, whose main job is playing caretaker for Corrado “Junior” Soprano on “The Sopranos”, handled the interview. He asked Evans all sorts of questions about what it’s like to be secretary of Commerce and “run the weather,” as Evans likes to joke. (His department oversees the National Oceanic Atmospheric Administration — ha, ha.)

Then Schirripa and co-host Ross Matthews, aka Ross, the Intern, wanted to know a lot about Evans friendship with Bush.

The Sopranos duo asked Evans whether he and Bush ever share clothes, or borrow money from each other, like real buddies do.

Evans, proving a quick wit, said that no, they never borrow money from each other. But, Evans noted, “We did drill a few dry holes together.”

Schirripa and Matthews let out a shriek of laughter, and started playing off Evans’ unintended double entendre. The secretary, seeming momentarily horrified, begged them to understand what he meant. He kept repeating: “Oil and gas. Oil and gas. It’s an oil and gas term.”

Not exactly on message, perhaps, but Evans is close enough to Bush that he won’t get whacked or beheaded like good old Joey Pants did a few seasons back.

Late Night, Early Morning. Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist (R-Tenn.) has invited reporters to join him for a brisk jog through Central Park this morning. Sounds like a great opportunity for reporters to get some face time with the GOP leader. The catch is, Congressional scribes — a notoriously late bunch extra-addled by hangovers this week — had to be ready to run at 6 a.m.

HOH was impressed but equally skeptical that Frist would be able to hit the pavement a mere four-and-a-half hours after the curtain closed on a party given in his honor by several sponsors, including Roll Call.

“We will be there,” Frist vowed. “That is where we will see the men and women versus the boys and girls as far as who shows tomorrow morning,” he pledged.

Frist’s communications director (and avid runner) Bob Stevenson did what he does best and put a good pre-emptive spin on where he’ll fall in the class divide. “Oh, I am a girlie man,” Stevenson joked, although he pledged to make the run. “I will be there, absolutely!”

Good luck to everyone this morning. HOH will be sleeping!

Wesley Clark Spotting. Wesley Clark has been spotted in television booths around New York this week as a Democratic surrogate rebutting Republican claims. He’s also been spotted sitting on the convention floor with the Georgia Republican delegation. Or, more precisely, “a” Wesley Clark has been spotted there.

He isn’t the former NATO commander and Democratic presidential hopeful, but Wesley Clark, 33 and a resident of Gainesville, Ga., is indeed a Republican delegate for this year’s convention. The Republican Clark, who works in furniture distribution, is making his first trip to a convention.

“I get a lot of ribbing” about sharing a name with a prominent Democrat, Clark said. “It’s all right. Everyone knows I’m a Republican and a conservative.”

Paul Kane, Mark Preston and Louis Jacobson also contributed to this report.

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