- The Washington Times - Wednesday, March 26, 2003

Democratic strategist Donna Brazile says she backs President Bush's war to overthrow Saddam Hussein and wants her party's leaders to project a stronger message that they support what U.S. troops are doing in Iraq.

Miss Brazile, who managed Al Gore's 2000 presidential campaign, said she is not happy with the way Democratic congressional leaders have handled the party's message on the war.

She says top Democrats have tilted too much of their message to curry favor with anti-war activists, ignoring swing voters and independents, and have failed to give their rank and file a well-thought-out position on how to deal with the national security threats posed by Saddam's regime.

"We cannot afford to be talking just to the anti-war people. That's easy. We have to talk to everybody, especially independents," about the war, she said.

"After I heard [the Arab television network] Al Jazeera broadcasting that videotape showing what the Iraqis did to the American POWs, I was livid," she said Monday in an interview with The Washington Times. "We have to send out the strongest possible message of support.

"Talk to any Americans, and they have relatives or they know someone on that battlefield. They want to hear that message that we support their kids. Right now we have to support our men and women over there," she said.

Miss Brazile, whose father served in the Korean War, said her views on the Iraqi regime have gradually changed over the past year or more. "It's personal for me, having family members and friends in the armed services. At the end of 2002 I was moving more and more to the right on the war," she said. "Hussein is a very dangerous man."

Miss Brazile's remarks on Iraq represented a sharp break with Democrats in the Congressional Black Caucus, most of whom do not support Mr. Bush's plan to disarm and depose the Iraqi dictator.

"I don't want to make any comment on the Black Caucus' position. They have their reasons. For many people this is a moral issue," she said.

She was especially critical of House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, California Democrat, and Senate Minority Leader Tom Daschle, South Dakota Democrat, for not developing a more compelling message on the Iraqi regime. "There's a vacuum in the party on this. People are looking to them for leadership. The activists are being left to formulate their position without much guidance from the party. Apparently they are leaving it up to our presidential candidates."

Miss Brazile, a member of the Democratic National Committee, is considered her party's most experienced tactician on minority turnout.

She said she has not decided whom she will endorse among her party's presidential contenders. But she came close to revealing her first preferences Monday, saying she could support Rep. Richard A. Gephardt of Missouri and possibly Sen. Joseph I. Lieberman of Connecticut.

"Gephardt is a personal friend. I worked for him on the Hill. Dick would put America first," she said, but then she added: "I could also support Lieberman. Gephardt or Lieberman," she repeated.

Nevertheless, she believes right now that Sen. John Kerry of Massachusetts "is the one to beat. He has the best team. He has an A-level campaign staff."

Miss Brazile said she has come under "some criticism from friends" for reaching out to discuss various issues with top administration officials, including White House political adviser Karl Rove. The two are scheduled to have lunch at the White House next month.

Among the things she wants to discuss with Mr. Rove is a meeting between the president and the Congressional Black Caucus.

"I'm urging them to do this to discuss where they can agree on domestic issue, such as Bush's faith-based initiative," she said.

LOAD COMMENTS ()

 

Click to Read More

Click to Hide