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Republicans push message: Dem wins could be victory for terrorists

Brian Beutler
Published: Friday August 18, 2006

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Republicans this week began once again to portray Democratic policies and electoral gains as potential victories for Islamists, RAW STORY has learned. The pattern emerges after Senator Joe Lieberman (D-CT) was defeated in his primary by anti-war challenger Ned Lamont -- and after a terrorism scare in London led to heightened security measures at American airports. Last week, speaking to reporters via conference call, Vice President Dick Cheney issued the following statements about the consequences of a Ned Lamont victory in Connecticut:

"The thing that's partly disturbing about it is the fact that, the standpoint of our adversaries, if you will, in this conflict, and the al Qaeda types, they clearly are betting on the proposition that ultimately they can break the will of the American people in terms of our ability to stay in the fight and complete the task. And when we see the Democratic Party reject one of its own…it would seem to say a lot about the state the party is in.
"...It's an unfortunate development, I think, from the standpoint of the Democratic Party to see a man like Lieberman pushed aside because of his willingness to support an aggressive posture in terms of our national security strategy."

Cheney later made similar statements at campaign speeches in Montana and Idaho. But the Vice President was only the first leading Republican to issue this type of criticism in the days after the Connecticut runoff. His remarks touched off a week of similar statements by other party members.

Speaking of the foiled London plan at a fundraiser in New Hampshire on Tuesday, New York governor George Pataki suggested that many "in the Democratic Party who said, 'Oh, they're blowing it out of proportion, they're making too big a deal out of it, they're trying to raise the issue of terror because it's something that might help them in November.’ Well, it's something that we should be aware of this November because where there is a difference between the two parties more starkly than anyplace else is when it comes to protecting our freedom."

Later, on the matter of a warrantless surveillance program by the NSA--which was yesterday ruled unconstitutional by senior federal judge Anna Diggs Taylor in Detroit--Pataki chided Democrats for their reaction to executive policy: "The Democratic reaction? Maybe we should impeach the president. My reaction? Thank God we have a Republican Party that believes in protecting the people of America and is not afraid to listen when terrorists are plotting what they're going to do to attack us again."

On Sunday's meet the press, Republican National Committee Chairman Ken Mehlman asked of his Democratic counterpart Howard Dean, "why has his party voted against the Patriot Act, against the surveillance programs, similar to the kind of programs that were used in London to deal with the threat? Why has his program -- why has his party been against missile defense? On issue after issue after issue, whether it's not giving the terrorists a victory in Iraq -- whether it's the tools we need at home to figure out what the terrorists are doing, to make sure we're successful -- on every one of these issues [the Democratic Party] doesn't think America is really at war."

On Wednesday, Senator Orrin Hatch (R-UT) was quoted in by the Tooele Transcript Bulletin saying in a conference call that Middle Eastern terrorists are, "waiting for the Democrats here to take control, let things cool off and then strike again."

Hatch later issued a statement clarifying his remarks, which reads in part: "I don't believe terrorists favor Democrats or Republicans. What they are waiting for is the United States to prematurely pull out of Iraq. There are appeasers in both parties but most are leading liberal Democrats."

Spokespeople for Governor Pataki and for the RNC did not immediately return calls for comment. But a source close to Hatch denied that the Utah Senator's remarks were part of a greater strategy within the Republican Party. Likewise, an NRSC spokesman suggested that each Republican quoted above was speaking independently, saying "I don't have any knowledge of [these statements] as an overall strategy."

"I don't have any insight on whether or not this is coordinated," said Phil Singer, Communications Director for the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee. "But if it looks like a duck and quacks like a duck, it probably is a duck."

"We'd be lot safer," Singer continued, "if they spent half as much time on our security, keeping us safe, as they do on polarizing politcs. We'd be a lot better off."