“This is a candidate who voted to cut $2.6 billion in intelligence funds as a member of the Intelligence Committee, including $80 million for the FBI,” he says.
“And now he wants the American people to think he’s a champion of homeland preparedness? Come on, give me a break,” he says.
Similarly, when Rep. Richard Gephardt, Missouri Democrat, let loose with a stinging indictment of Mr. Bush’s record on national security, charging the country was not any safer now than it was before the terrorist attacks on September 11, Mr. Gillespie sent out Mr. Gephardt’s voting record against increased funding for the CIA.
“As party chairman, I have an obligation to push back and respond to the inaccuracies from the other party,” he says. “My job is to make sure the record gets set straight.”
Mr. Bush could not have sent a more gifted political strategist out into the campaign battlefield to defend him. He honed his message-making skills with House Republican leader Dick Armey and, later, with RNC Chairman Haley Barbour. He was communications adviser in the Bush 2000 campaign and helped to elect Elizabeth Dole to the Senate in 2002.
“Ed’s been through the political wars and knows how to punch and counterpunch, and that’s the level at which this fight is going to be fought out,” says political strategist Bill Dal Col.
Mr. Gillespie says he’s ready for the coming fight. “We’re not going to let untrue statements and hypocritical actions go unnoticed,” he says.
Expect to hear a lot from him over the next 15 months.
Donald Lambro, chief political correspondent of The Washington Times, is a nationally syndicated columnist.
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