- The Washington Times - Thursday, April 25, 2002

Capitol Hill Democrats announced their latest signature message yesterday, "Securing America's Future for all our Families" but Republicans immediately accused Democrats of pirating not only the agenda, but the slogan itself.

House Democrats said there will be a new, concerted effort with Senate Democratic leadership and the Democratic National Committee to push the new slogan and to highlight areas where they say Republicans have fallen short, including funding education, lowering prescription drug costs, coming up with a comprehensive Medicare drug benefit plan, protecting the environment and pensions, and preserving Social Security.

"The American people deserve a sense of security, not only in the struggle against terrorism, but also at home," said House Minority Whip Nancy Pelosi, California Democrat. "What we want to point out to the American people is that there is a difference between the Democrats and the Republicans. Securing America's future for our children involves their health, their education and the economic security of their families, which includes the pension security of their grandparents."

Republicans fired back with their own news conference to say they have owned the "security" message for years, providing photos and links to Web sites over the past few years where the Republican Party has used variations of "securing America."

Accusing another party or candidate of borrowing policy ideas is a staple in campaigns, but Republican Conference Chairman J.C. Watts Jr. from Oklahoma said Democrats must have had a "Damascus-road experience" to try to use this slogan.

The tone of Republicans' tongue-in-cheek response was set when they strode to the podium on the East Steps of the Capitol to the tune of "Blame it on the Rain" by Milli Vanilli, the Grammy-winning duo who had to give back their award after they acknowledged merely lip-synching their hit songs.

"We were country when country wasn't cool," said Majority Leader Dick Armey, Texas Republican. "We were securing America's future long before [Democrats] stumbled on this rhetorical hijacking."

He joked that Democrats worked out their new message together with Doris Kearns Goodwin a presidential historian and TV analyst who has acknowledged that some of her books didn't properly credit sources and with Sen. Joseph R. Biden Jr., Delaware Democrat, who was accused of plagiarizing a speech by British politician Neil Kinnock.

"We are against cloning, and we will not tolerate cloning, especially when it is we who are being cloned," Mr. Armey said.

But House Minority Leader Richard A. Gephardt, Missouri Democrat, said Republicans "haven't done a good job of getting the message out because I didn't even know that was their message."

The office of Senate Minority Whip Harry Reid, Nevada Democrat, also responded, putting out a "Top Ten" List of the "real" Republican slogans, including "Securing a $254 million tax break for Enron," "Securing Skyrocketing Prices and Huge Profit Margins for the Big Pharmaceutical Companies," and "Securing Crowded Classrooms and Crumbling Schools."

Democrats have been accused of not having a strong national message in this election year, but House Democrat leaders dismissed this thinking during their news conference yesterday.

"I can see why they want to say we don't have a message because they realize that our message on Social Security, on Medicare, on prescription drugs, on education and on the environment resonates so well with the American people as opposed to the gutting actions that they've taken with regard to all of those important programs," Mr. Gephardt said.


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