As campaign fund-raising letters go, it was a corker:
"I knew I was going to die," the first paragraph said. "My arms and legs ached from struggling to tread water in the rough, winter-chilled waves of the Pacific Ocean. . . . "
The author, Rep. Robert K. Dornan (R-Garden Grove), a former Air Force pilot, recounted two brushes with death in the service of his country--and solicited contributions to help defend his military record against "scummy" attacks by political opponents.
But the audience was all wrong.
Conservative Dornan said the letter, which devoted half a page to berating "leftist liberals" before going on to solicit $10, $15 or $25 contributions, had been intended only for the eyes of regular contributors and "the 19 millionaires" among his congressional colleagues.