- The Washington Times - Friday, July 30, 2004

BOSTON — Republican officials said yesterday they plan to “run on President Bush’s record,” not run away from it as they said the Kerry-Edwards ticket did throughout the Democratic National Convention.

“We’re going to run on President Bush’s record. We’re going to run on his record of accomplishment in the war against terror. We’re going to run on his accomplishments regarding our economy. We’re going to run on all of his accomplishments, and we’re not going to run away from them,” said former New York Mayor Rudolph W. Giuliani.

Republican leaders, who have been monitoring and critiquing the Democratic speeches here all week, stepped up their counterattacks on the fourth and final day of the nominating convention, charging that the Democrats have bent over backward to hide the liberal voting records of their party’s standard-bearers.

Democrats avoided any mention of Sen. John Kerry’s 20-year voting record in favor of deep cuts in defense and intelligence programs and his opposition to across-the-board income-tax cuts and the $87 billion military funding bill for the troops in Iraq, a phalanx of top Republicans said at a press conference.

That will stand in sharp contrast to next month’s Republican National Convention in New York, where the party will go out of its way to talk about what Mr. Bush has done, said and supported in the past four years, they said.

When the Republican Party convenes to renominate Mr. Bush and Vice President Dick Cheney at Madison Square Garden from Aug. 30 to Sept. 2, Mr. Giuliani promised, his party won’t do what Democrats have done at Boston’s FleetCenter.

“I think it’s clear to anyone, Democrat or Republican or independent, [the Democrats have] been running away from John Kerry’s record. They’re running away from John Edwards’ record,” Mr. Giuliani said.

“Do we have diversity in our party? Yes. Are we going to present that diversity? Of course we are. But none of us are going to get up there, as [Democrats have] been doing … and run away from the record of our candidates,” he said during the press briefing.

“We’re proud of the record of President Bush. We’re proud of the record of Vice President Cheney. We don’t have to run away from it. We may have areas of disagreement, but we’re not going to essentially try to create some kind of false picture of the president. We don’t have to do that. They have to,” he said.

The Republican Party rolled out some of its biggest political guns yesterday at the press conference, which was moved to a ballroom at the Omni Parker House Hotel that was packed with Republican supporters.

In addition to Mr. Giuliani, one of the prime-time speakers at the Republican convention next month, the party leaders included former Massachusetts Gov. William Weld, Massachusetts Lt. Gov. Kerry Healey, Sen. John Cornyn of Texas and Ed Gillespie, chairman of the Republican National Committee, who has been presiding over the party’s weeklong briefings.

Mr. Weld said the convention was “all sizzle and no steak.”

Mr. Gillespie said, “Over the next four weeks, the president will be talking about the next four years and talking about new ideas, new policies and new approaches for a new term.”

But Mr. Giuliani was clearly the star attraction who leveled the sharpest attacks against the Democrats and what the Republicans have labeled the convention’s “extreme makeover” of Mr. Kerry’s liberal voting record.

The former mayor focused most of his remarks on Mr. Kerry’s votes and statements on the Iraq war and the president’s war on terrorism.

“John Kerry voted against the [1991] Persian Gulf war when Saddam Hussein invaded Kuwait, then he voted for the resolution on the Iraq war, but then voted against the $87 billion in funds for our troops in the war,” he said. “Don’t tell me they are not on the far-liberal wing of their party.”

Then he pointed out that after the vote on military funding for Iraq, which drew only 12 “no” votes, Mr. Kerry defended his vote against the measure by saying “I voted for it before I voted against it.”

Slapping his forehead in disbelief, Mr. Giuliani said, “Does that tell you everything you need to know about John Kerry?”

Mr. Weld, who ran against Mr. Kerry in 1996, recalled the senator saying, “I’m a liberal and proud of it.”

But the popular former governor warned that Mr. Bush will have a tough time debating Mr. Kerry in the general election.

“Televised debating is absolutely Senator Kerry’s longest suit. He’s been debating ever since he was an undergraduate student at Yale,” Mr. Weld said, recalling his experiences with Mr. Kerry in their Senate campaign debates.

“One thing I can tell you is that he is an international grandmaster at the art of changing the subject. When you’re on live television and you have a question that is trying to pin you down when you don’t want to be pinned down … there is nobody better at that than John Kerry,” Mr. Weld said.

“He’s got the speed of a welterweight, he’ll move all around. I think it is an uphill fight against John Kerry in televised debates.”

Mr. Cornyn zeroed in on Mr. Kerry’s attendance record on the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence and his proposals to make deep cuts in the intelligence agencies he said were critical in the fight against terrorism.

“The American people would be shocked to know that during the time Senator Kerry served on Senate Select Committee on Intelligence, he missed 38 out of 49 of the public meetings of the committee,” he said.

Mr. Kerry served on the committee in the 1990s.

Of the public hearings since Mr. Edwards’ joined the committee, “he has only made four out the eight public meetings,” he said.

Mr. Cornyn called on the senators “to release their attendance records on the private or classified meetings of the Senate intelligence committee so that the American people can really know the truth about where the failure of oversight comes from. Is it because they didn’t bother to show up? The American people deserve to know the truth and know the truth now.”

Mrs. Healey said the Democrats have been conveniently ignoring many of Mr. Bush’s accomplishments on a number of domestic-policy fronts.

“We haven’t been hearing about the president’s 40 percent increase in funding to our veterans, and we haven’t heard that this is the first president who has ever provided federal funding for stem-cell research,” she said.

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