Saturday, November 04, 2006

Cheney still in denial about how his & Bush's strategy is what has emboldened militants

Cheney: Democratic victory would embolden militants

COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. (Reuters) - Vice President Dick Cheney, campaigning for Republicans four days before congressional elections, said on Friday that victories for Democratic critics of the Iraq war would tell militants that "their strategy is working."

Polls show Democrats may be poised to take control of at least one chamber of Congress in Tuesday's elections, largely due to anger over the war.

In an interview with ABC television, Cheney cited the example of antiwar Democratic Senate candidate Ned Lamont's primary win against Connecticut Sen. Joseph Lieberman to suggest al Qaeda militants would draw messages from the vote.

Lieberman, a supporter of the war, is running as an independent after losing the Democratic primary, and leads Lamont in the polls.

"I think when they (militant groups) see something happen such as happened in Connecticut this year with the Democratic Party in effect (having) purged Joe Lieberman, primarily over his support for the president and the war, that says to them that their strategy is working," Cheney said on ABC's "This Week."

Cheney later told a rally for Republican candidates in Colorado Springs that if the United States were to withdraw from Iraq prematurely, it would validate the predictions of al Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden.

"He and his followers believe that America doesn't have the stomach for this fight and they are absolutely convinced they can break the will of this country," Cheney said.

Democrats have accused Cheney and President George W. Bush of using scare tactics to urge Americans to vote for Republicans.

The vice president also said the Bush administration would proceed "full speed ahead" with its Iraq policy, regardless of the election outcome.

"Clearly, there have been problems," Cheney said, but he added, "We've got the basic strategy right."

Asked how the election would influence Iraq policy, Cheney replied: "I think it will have some effect, perhaps, in the Congress, but the president has made clear what his objective is. It is victory in Iraq and it is full speed ahead on that basis and that is exactly what we are going to do."

In a visit to Fort Carson, Colorado, earlier on Friday, Cheney told an audience of 5,000 soldiers and their families that Americans "do not support a policy of retreat" in Iraq and gave an optimistic assessment of the situation there, saying the Iraqi security force was "growing in size and ability."