RNC Chief Faults Democratic Leaders on Terrorism

By Martiga Lohn
Associated Press
Saturday, August 5, 2006

BLOOMINGTON, Minn., Aug. 4 -- Ken Mehlman, chairman of the Republican National Committee, denounced Democratic Party leaders Friday, saying they would "surrender important tools" in the fight against terrorism.

Amid low approval ratings for President Bush and diminishing support for the Iraq war, Mehlman's speech at the RNC's summer meeting echoed a theme voiced by White House adviser Karl Rove in January: that Republicans should make terrorism a central campaign issue in the fall campaigns and argue that Democrats hold a pre-Sept. 11 view of the world.

Mehlman said that if the Democrats win control of Congress in the Nov. 7 midterm elections, party leaders will stop the National Security Agency from eavesdropping on foreign terrorists and will pursue impeachment of the president.

"America faces a critical question," Mehlman said. "Will we elect leaders who recognize we're at war and want to use every tool to win it, or politicians who would surrender important tools we need to win?"

He singled out House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) and Democratic National Committee Chairman Howard Dean.

"As foreign jihadists call into the United States, do we use [NSA] technology to stop sleeper cells before they hit us? Or do we surrender use of this technology, as Nancy Pelosi and Howard Dean would have us do?"

The DNC dismissed Mehlman's comments, saying his "desperate rantings won't change the fact that Bush and his rubber-stamp Republicans are in deep trouble with the American people who can see right through their trickery and spin."

"The American people will not be fooled again," said Karen Finney, a spokeswoman for the DNC.

Rove said Jan. 20 at the RNC's winter meeting in Washington: "At the core, we are dealing with two parties that have fundamentally different views on national security. Republicans have a post-9/11 worldview, and many Democrats have a pre-9/11 worldview. That doesn't make them unpatriotic -- not at all. But it does make them wrong -- deeply and profoundly and consistently wrong."

Democrats and some Republicans have questioned the legality of Bush's domestic surveillance. The administration contends that the warrantless wiretapping is needed to combat terrorism.

The political terrain looks rough for Republicans, with polls showing that many voters prefer the Democratic candidates in their districts to the GOP picks. Nevertheless, polls show that voters prefer Republicans on national security issues.

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