- The Washington Times - Saturday, May 17, 2003

From combined dispatches

With suicide bombings providing a fresh reminder of terrorism’s reach, President Bush vowed yesterday that the United States would not relent in its pursuit of al Qaeda operatives and other terrorists.

“The enemies of freedom are not idle, and neither are we,” Mr. Bush said in his weekly radio address. “Our government is taking unprecedented measures to defend the homeland. And from Pakistan to the Philippines, to the Horn of Africa, we are hunting down al Qaeda killers.”

Yet, as the president focused on international terrorism, Democrats continued to attack the administration’s domestic policies. Democratic National Committee Chairman Terry McAuliffe accused Mr. Bush yesterday of unleashing a “new McCarthyism” by vilifying people who oppose his policies.

Speaking in Ohio, Mr. McAuliffe also defended Sen. George V. Voinovich, Ohio Republican, who wavered in his support for the president’s tax-cut package because he feared it would drive up the federal budget deficit. The Senate version would cut taxes by nearly $350 billion during 10 years, with additional cuts driving its cost to almost $420 billion.

After Mr. Voinovich criticized the plan, a pro-tax-cut group ran television ads criticizing his position, and Mr. Bush visited Ohio to promote the tax cuts, a trip that many interpreted as an attempt to pressure the senator. Bush administration spokesmen said nothing about the ads, which characterized “so-called allies” in Congress as “Franco-Republicans” who were no more helpful than France was during the Iraq war.

In the end, Mr. Voinovich’s vote helped the legislation pass the Senate on a 51-50 vote, with the deciding vote cast by Vice President Dick Cheney.

In a speech prepared for delivery at the Ohio Democratic Party’s state dinner, Mr. McAuliffe said he disagrees with Mr. Voinovich’s vote and many other positions the senator takes. But he said whatever the differences politically, the senator is a loyal American.

“For George’s sin of wanting a slightly more fiscally sound tax package, his patriotism was attacked, and the president never spoke out in his defense, never told his henchmen to stop the attack,” Mr. McAuliffe said.

“George Bush has unleashed a new McCarthyism that, under the cloak of a time of crisis and peril, has vilified and questioned the patriotism of those who have policy and political differences with him and his administration,” he said.

Republican National Committee spokesman Jim Dyke said Mr. Bush had nothing to do with the ads that ran against Mr. Voinovich, which were sponsored by a group called Club for Growth.

He said Mr. McAuliffe is continuing a strategy of partisan attacks against Republicans that didn’t lead Democrats to victory last year and won’t in 2004.

“We’re not questioning their patriotism,” Mr. Dyke said. “The question is, ‘Are Democrats putting forward ideas and showing leadership?’ And based on some of the foolish things they say, I think the American people would say no.”

Meanwhile, Democratic presidential rivals met yesterday at a forum in Iowa, in which they criticized Mr. Bush’s handling of national security and the economy.

Candidates at the meeting, sponsored by the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees, also renewed their criticism of Mr. Bush’s tax-cutting efforts.

“The president’s prescription for everything is take two tax cuts and call me in the morning,” said former Vermont Gov. Howard Dean.

Mr. Bush was spending the weekend at the Camp David presidential retreat in Maryland.

Although the FBI knew of no Americans killed in the five nearly simultaneous suicide bombings Friday in Casablanca, the Bush administration was offering U.S. assistance to Morocco “at the highest levels” to find those responsible for the attacks that killed dozens and wounded at least 100, Secretary of State Colin L. Powell said.

On Monday a series of suicide bombings in the Saudi capital, Riyadh, killed 34 persons, including eight Americans, at three housing compounds of foreign nationals. Linking those attacks to the al Qaeda network and citing new threats in Africa and Asia, U.S. counterterrorism officials have warned of a coordinated effort by Osama bin Laden’s terror network to hit targets around the world.

“The terrorist attacks this week in Saudi Arabia, which killed innocent civilians from more than half a dozen countries, including our own, provide a stark reminder that the war on terror continues,” said Mr. Bush, who recorded his address Friday before the attacks in Morocco.

Mr. Bush also said successful U.S. military campaigns in Iraq and Afghanistan have provided key victories in the global fight against terrorism.

He added that nearly half of al Qaeda’s senior operatives have been captured or killed.

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