Cheney Accused of Politicizing Terrorism

The Associated Press
Friday, August 11, 2006; 10:16 PM

WASHINGTON -- Senate Democratic leaders on Friday accused Vice President Dick Cheney of playing politics with terrorism and contended that voters won't buy Republican arguments that the GOP is stronger on national security.

"They've run this play one too many times," Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., said in a conference call with reporters. "The American people simply do not recognize any validity in what they're saying."

Republicans, in turn, accused Democrats of political posturing.

"It sounds to me like Senator Reid is trying to accuse us of politicizing while he, himself, is politicizing the issue," said White House press secretary Tony Snow. "The comments that this administration has been making, including me, have been aimed at simply trying to get people to think seriously about, How do you achieve the goal of winning the war on terror? When you're in a war, the goal should not be how to get out. It should be how to win and then to get out."

Some Republicans suggested that Democratic rule could endanger the country.

"National Democrats are stone-cold guilty of engaging in a reckless and irresponsible pattern of neglect for the security of our citizens," said Rep. Tom Reynolds, R-N.Y., the chairman of the House Republicans' campaign committee.

Democrats sought to put Republicans on the defensive on what historically has been a GOP strength _ national security. The heated rhetoric came a day after the disclosure of a thwarted plot to blow up flights from Britain to the United States. Within hours of that news, each party accused the other of doing too little to deter the threat of attack.

Sen. Charles Schumer, D-N.Y., accused Cheney and Senate Republicans of politicizing the issue.

"They shouldn't. We should all be uniting and be together at this point," said Schumer, the head of the Senate Democrats' campaign committee. "But if they're going to throw the political bombs on this issue, we are going to answer them loud and clear, and we believe we have the political high ground."

In a written statement, Reynolds said Democrats were sounding a "defeatist, surrender message" and catering to the party's liberal base "that prefers a flag that is lily-white to a flag that is red, white, and blue."

The nation's safety looms large as an issue in the midterm elections less than three months before the Nov. 7 contest. Both Republicans and Democrats are maneuvering for the political advantage.

On Wednesday, Cheney gave his assessment of anti-war challenger Ned Lamont's Democratic primary win over Connecticut Sen. Joe Lieberman, an Iraq war supporter.

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