A group of Democratic foreign policy experts says President Bush deserves a gold medal for gall for invoking the Olympics in televisions ads touting his foreign policy. The new group is fighting back with its own ads, ensuring that -- at least in some television markets -- the Summer Games will offer viewers no respite from arguments over the fall election.
The group, another in a line of independent "527" organizations formed this year, is called Win Back Respect. Its advisory board includes such prominent Democratic foreign policy voices as former senator Gary Hart (Colo.), former Clinton White House national security adviser Anthony Lake and Leon Fuerth, who was for years the top foreign policy adviser to former vice president Al Gore. Former Gore domestic adviser Elaine Kamarck is also a member.
The ad features Wright Salisbury, who describes himself as a lifelong Republican and Bush 2000 voter, whose lost his son-in-law on one of the planes that hit the World Trade Center. "There was a tremendous amount of sympathy for America and for what we suffered," Salisbury says. "George Bush, frankly, has squandered it. I think our friends and allies would be willing to help us in a war on terror, but we've been pushing them away."
Matt Bennett, a former aide to retired Gen. Wesley K. Clark's presidential campaign, said the ad was a push-back to what his group regards as Bush's attempt to manipulate Olympic patriotism to political advantage. A recent Bush ad features swimming Olympians, while the narrator notes that, thanks to Bush actions in Afghanistan and Iraq, "this Olympics, there will be two more free nations -- and two fewer terrorist regimes."
The Bush ad, Hart said in a statement, "surely is shameless, but in some ways it is appropriate -- George Bush has executed a perfect back-flip -- taking the goodwill and solidarity of the world and turning it into disillusionment and disdain."
Democrats Applaud GOP's Keynote Speaker
Twelve years ago, Zell Miller, then Democratic governor of Georgia, gave the keynote address at the Madison Square Garden convention that nominated Bill Clinton. In 12 days, Miller who is retiring from the Senate, will again make the keynote address at a Madison Square Garden convention, but this time it will be at a convention nominating President Bush.
For much of the last four years, Miller has been a Democrat in name only, supporting most of Bush's programs in the Senate and long ago endorsing him for reelection.
The keynote at the national political convention is usually given by a prominent party figure or a rising political star. Last month, the Democrats gave the spot to Barack Obama, a young, black state legislator running for the Senate from Illinois.
The Kerry campaign mocked Miller's choice, referring to words of praise Miller has had for the Massachusetts senator. "We are thrilled that the Republican convention is going to feature someone who -- in his own words -- thinks John Kerry is an 'authentic hero' who has worked to 'strengthen our military,' " campaign spokesman Phil Singer said.
Cheney Labeled a 'Coward' by Harkin
Sen. Tom Harkin (D-Iowa) called Vice President Cheney a "coward" this week.
His temperature-raising comments came in an interview with the Associated Press, in which Harkin responded to Cheney's recent criticism of Kerry.
Kerry said earlier this month that he would fight "a more effective, more thoughtful, more strategic, more proactive, more sensitive war on terror." Cheney and Bush have seized upon Kerry's use of the word "sensitive," suggesting that it indicates that the Massachusetts senator is too soft to adequately defend the country.
"When I hear this coming from Dick Cheney, who was a coward, who would not serve during the Vietnam War, it makes my blood boil," said Harkin, who, like Kerry, is a veteran. "He'll be tough, but he'll be tough with someone else's kid's blood." Cheney received five deferments of military service.
Harkin added: "What he is doing and what he is saying is cowardly. The actions are cowardly."
Matthew Dowd, a senior Bush campaign adviser, defended Cheney by invoking the name of former president Bill Clinton, who "served the presidency with distinction without having served in Vietnam or in a war," Dowd said on MSNBC's "Hardball."
Political researcher Brian Faler contributed to this report.