Democratic Platform Assails Administration
Draft Statement, Written With Kerry Campaign, Attacks Bush on Security and Economic Policies
By Dan Balz
Washington Post Staff Writer
Sunday, July 4, 2004; Page A04
Bearing the strong imprint of Sen. John F. Kerry, the Democratic Party's 2004 platform offers a stinging indictment of President Bush's national security policies, charging that the administration has "walked away from more than 100 years of American leadership in the world" and left the country less safe.
The platform says Bush's doctrine of preemption has cost the United States the support of traditional allies and accuses the administration of repeatedly missing opportunities to attract international support for the mission in Iraq. The document calls for a new effort to rebuild alliances, saying the path to victory in the war on terrorism "will be found in the company of others, not walking alone."
The party platform also reproaches the administration for its economic policies, arguing that Bush has ignored the needs of middle-class Americans in favor of the wealthy, failed to produce enough new jobs and squandered the budgetary surpluses he inherited.
A Democratic administration will "restore responsibility to our budget" by rolling back part of Bush's tax cut, eliminating some corporate tax breaks, enacting tough spending caps and using other means, the document says. But it also outlines a long list of new spending initiatives or tax cuts for health care, education and other domestic needs.
Written with the active involvement of the Kerry campaign, the draft platform offers the most comprehensive statement to date of how Kerry's governing agenda would differ from the Bush administration's policies.
Nicolle Devenish, communications director for the Bush-Cheney campaign, rejected Democrats' criticisms. "John Kerry's indictment of the 30-nation coalition standing shoulder-to-shoulder with America as we aid the new government in Iraq shows a stunning level of disregard for America's allies, who are united in a fight against a global terror network," she said.
On domestic issues, she said, "Kerry's ongoing efforts to insert pessimism and misery into his every utterance about the growing economy is one the voters will reject in November."
The draft was made available to The Washington Post and other news organizations this weekend. It will be presented to the Democratic National Committee's full platform committee for approval July 9 to 10 in Miami, and will be adopted by the party at the national convention in Boston at the end of the month.
The 2004 platform is shorter than the one adopted in 2000 and is notable for how much more it deals with terrorism and national security than recent platforms. In that sense, it reflects how much the world and the presidency have changed since Bush was elected and shows the Democrats' determination not to appear weak.
"We were very cognizant of the time in which we were writing and functioning," said Rep. Rosa L. DeLauro (D-Conn.), who chairs the drafting committee. "Almost one-half of this document is centered on national security." She said it is designed to show the party's seriousness about protecting the United States and to reflect Democrats' belief that voters want a change of direction.
The draft echoes in tone and language much of what the Massachusetts senator has outlined on the campaign trail since he wrapped up the nomination in March.
The 16,000-word document skirts some potentially divisive issues within the party, particularly with regard to Iraq. A strong majority of Democrats believes it was a mistake for the president to launch the war in Iraq, but the platform says only, "People of good will disagree about whether America should have gone to war in Iraq."
With polls showing that many Democrats want to bring U.S. forces home as quickly as possible, the draft platform declares, "We cannot allow a failed state in Iraq that inevitably would become a haven for terrorists and a destabilizing force in the Middle East."
While the platform calls for increasing the size of the U.S. military by 40,000 troops, it takes no position on whether more U.S. forces are needed in Iraq. Instead, the document says the United States must find support from other countries. "We must truly internationalize both politically and militarily; we cannot depend on a U.S.-only presence" in Iraq.
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