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Bush and Cheney go after the Democrats

INDIANAPOLIS – President Bush and Vice President Dick Cheney launched a one-two political punch against Democrats on Friday, saying they are ill-equipped to handle the economic recovery or the war on terror.Shouldering dismal poll ratings, Bush worked to frame the debate ahead of this year’s congressional elections by telling supporters that “the difference is clear” between the two parties on how to sustain the recovery.”If you want the government in your pocket, vote Democrat,” Bush said. “If you want to keep more of your hard-earned money, vote Republican.”Cheney, speaking at a GOP fundraiser in Orlando, Fla., took on Senate Democratic leader Harry Reid and party chairman Howard Dean by name. He said leading Democrats have demanded a “sudden withdrawal from the battle against terrorists in Iraq – the very kind of retreat that Osama bin Laden has been predicting.””With that sorry record, the leaders of the Democratic Party have decided to run on the theme of competence. If they’re competent to fight this war, then I ought to be singing on ‘American Idol,”‘ Cheney said.The remark drew robust laughter. “I don’t know why that’s funny,” Cheney said at the event for Rep. Ric Keller, R-Fla.Democrats were quick to counterpunch.”Under this administration’s watch, Iraq has become a training ground and launching pad for international terrorism, North Korea has likely quadrupled its nuclear arsenal, bin Laden remains on the loose, terror attacks across the world are on the rise, and Katrina exposed the staggering gaps in the administration’s ability to protect America,” said Reid’s spokesman, Jim Manley.Democratic National Committee spokesman Luis Miranda said: “Instead of offering a plan for victory in Iraq, the vice president today again resorted to attacks to try to distract from the Bush administration’s commitment to a failed strategy.”Bush and Cheney appeared to be repeating a page from the 2004 presidential campaign.During a campaign stop then in Des Moines, Iowa, Cheney said a vote for Democrat John Kerry would risk another terror attack. Making the “wrong choice” on Election Day would mean Kerry would follow a pre-Sept. 11 policy of reacting defensively, Cheney said.Some wary Republicans on the ballot in November have been trying to stay at arm’s length from the White House to avoid being tainted by Bush’s job approval ratings, in the 30s. But presidents attract crowds and supporters with deep pockets, and Bush remains the nation’s most successful fundraiser.Cheney, whose poll numbers are even lower than Bush’s, is not far behind. Both have raised tens of millions of dollars for GOP congressional and gubernatorial candidates running in this year’s midterm elections.Bush spoke at a fundraiser for Rep. Mike Sodrel, raising more than $500,000 to help the freshman Republican beat Democrat Baron Hill. The race is considered a toss-up in the GOP quest to retain control of the House.He said the Republicans have an economic record to run on, and he urged Congress to make permanent various tax cuts due to expire within a few years. He tried to draw a sharp contrast between the two parties’ economic policies.”In 2001, more than 90 percent of the congressional Democrats voted against cutting income tax rates,” Bush said, referring to votes on his initial package of tax cuts.He told the Republican audience that, by overwhelming margins, Democrats also voted to reject his legislation – which eventually passed – to provide tax relief for married couples, double the child credit and cut taxes on dividends and capital gains.Later, the president traveled to an affluent Pittsburgh suburb to raise more than $1 million for Sen. Rick Santorum.Santorum, trailing Casey in polls, broke with Bush on a plan to have an Arab company based in Dubai run terminals at some U.S. ports and has raised concerns about the administration’s conduct of the war in Iraq. But Santorum met Bush at an airport in Pittsburgh, and the two smiled for cameras.Democrats are hungry for a victory in Pennsylvania and hope to replace the two-term senator with State Treasurer Bob Casey Jr., a Democrat who is against abortion.”Senator Santorum and President Bush should publicly explain why they’ve advanced policies that have cost Pennsylvania over 180,000 manufacturing jobs and caused over 700,000 Pennsylvanians to lose their health insurance,” said Casey spokesman Larry Smar. “Senator Santorum should work for the people of Pennsylvania and not be a rubber stamp in order to gain campaign cash.”—On the Net:White House: http://www.whitehouse.gov


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