Tuesday, October 03, 2006

There He Goes Again!

Bush attacks Democrats on national security votes
By Steve Holland

RENO, Nevada (Reuters) - President Bush, opening a Western campaign swing, attacked Democrats on Monday for voting against legislation authorizing the wiretapping of terrorism suspects and setting rules for their interrogation.

Bush said in a fund-raising speech that the way the Democrats voted on the legislation last week, it seems the opposition party wants to wait "until we're attacked again" before responding to threats.

"I want you all to remember when you got to the polls here in Nevada, what political party supported the president to make sure we have the tools necessary to protect the American people, and which political party didn't," Bush said.

It is a theme he is expected to step up on Tuesday with a political speech in Stockton, California.

Although Republican majorities propelled the legislation to the president's desk for signing, large numbers of Democrats voted against them, and Bush planned to use those votes as a sign of the opposition party's weakness in the war on Islamic militants.

"Democrats say that they share the goal of fighting the war on terror aggressively but their votes in the Senate and the House often tell a different story and a vote is a statement," White House spokeswoman Dana Perino said.

With five weeks left to persuade voters to stick with Republican control of the U.S. Congress, Bush opened a three-day Western campaign trip in Nevada by helping Republican congressional candidate Dean Heller raise $360,000.

He will also travel to California, Arizona and Colorado before returning to Washington on Wednesday.

Republican hopes of hanging on to control of the House of Representatives have been jolted by a sex scandal that prompted the resignation of Florida Republican Rep. Mark Foley and led to Democratic charges that House Speaker Dennis Hastert of Illinois should have acted swifter when told of suspicious e-mails Foley was sending to a teenage staffer.

Bush is trying to assist his party retain control of the House and the Senate with visits to congressional districts where Republican candidates need his fund-raising prowess despite his unpopularity due to the Iraq war.

He is looking to rebound from a difficult week in which a National Intelligence Estimate was made public that declared the Iraq war was furthering a global Islamist militant movement and a new book by Watergate reporter Bob Woodward accused Bush of misleading Americans about the conflict.

Bush did not mention the Woodward book in his speech and gave his usual defense of the Iraq war, differing with Democrats who call it a distraction from the broader war against terrorism.

Heller is running against Democrat Jill Derby for the House seat being vacated by Republican Rep. Jim Gibbons, who is running for state governor.

(Additional reporting by Tabassum Zakaria)