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GOP '06 Strategy Hinges on Iraq, Terrorism

The GOP appears to be anchoring its '06 campaign hopes on stigmatizing Democratic candidates as weak on Iraq and terrorism, according to L.A. Times reporters Doyle McManus and Peter Wallsten.

GOP leaders, including President Bush and Rep. John Boehner this week accused Democrats of "defeatism," advocating "special priviledges for terorrists" and wanting to "wave the white flag of surrender." But blaming the Democrats may be a very tough sell for the GOP, and their timing is not the best, as the authors explain:

The environment is not entirely hospitable. A car bomb killed scores of people in a busy Baghdad market Saturday, a day after the Army announced that American soldiers were accused of raping an Iraqi woman and then killing her and three family members. Polls find most voters say they want to see Democrats take control of Congress this fall.

Democrats will likely be ready for the GOP to do its worst. Responding to Boehner's accusing the Dems of being soft on al-Qaeda, Brendan Daly, spokesman for House Minorty Leader Nancy Pelosi replied:

Republicans are resorting to their tired tactics of distort, distract and divide. Instead of actually doing something to protect our nation, such as implementing the 9/11 commission recommendations or hiring more border control agents, they are doing what that always do: trying to incite fear and attack Democrats. It won't work.

A good strong reply, and it is likely that other Dem leaders will not hesitate to point out the Administration's failure to secure America's ports and the weak response to disaster in the wake of Hurricane Katrina as an indication of the Administration's preparedness for possible terrorist acts. As the authors point out, races in the House, where the Dems are more likely to win a majority, will be less likely than the Senate to turn on foreign policy issues.