- The Washington Times - Thursday, August 26, 2004

Democrats will stage daily political attacks on President Bush and his administration at the Republican National Convention next week, led by a group of party liberals, including New York Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton.

In a preview of the Democrats’ counteroffensive strategy at the Republicans’ four-day gathering in Manhattan to renominate Mr. Bush and Vice President Dick Cheney, Democratic National Committee Chairman Terry McAuliffe said the theme of his party’s weeklong press conferences will be “Mission Not Accomplished.”

The title is a reference to the “Mission Accomplished” banner displayed on the aircraft carrier USS Abraham Lincoln on which Mr. Bush declared in May 2003 that major combat in Iraq had ended.

“OK, we changed one little word. But that’s our theme. Every day we’ll be highlighting this simple truth about the administration of George Bush: Mission Not Accomplished,” Mr. McAuliffe said at the DNC’s Capitol Hill headquarters.

“So many missions were not accomplished in the last four years. And this time there’s no one for George Bush to blame but himself,” he said.

Mr. McAuliffe, who raised millions of dollars for President Clinton’s 1996 re-election campaign, chose a large cast of liberal party leaders to help him deliver the Democratic responses to the convention speeches. In addition to Mrs. Clinton, Gov. Tom Vilsack of Iowa, a Midwest battleground state; and Sen. Charles E. Schumer and Rep. Charles B. Rangel, both of New York; were enlisted.

Republicans waged a similar counteroffensive at the Democratic National Convention in Boston last month, accusing the Democrats of undertaking an “extreme makeover” of their presidential nominee, John Kerry, by ignoring the Massachusetts senator’s liberal voting record.

Mr. McAuliffe said that instead of a convention, Mr. Bush is “going to have a masquerade ball in New York — a Hollywood facade put up by extremists, pushing moderates out on stage to mask the special-interest agenda that’s governed agenda.”

A spokesman for the Republican National Committee shot back yesterday that “after seeing their convention, it is difficult to take them seriously.”

“We won’t be running our convention the way they did when they did not discuss John Kerry’s 20-year record in the Senate. We’re not unwilling or unable to articulate President Bush’s record,” said Jim Dyke, the RNC’s communications director.

Mr. McAuliffe, who will open today the Democrats’ convention headquarters a few blocks from Madison Square Garden, said, “We’ll have a few more surprises up our sleeves. So stay tuned.”

The Republicans will have a few surprises, too, Mr. Dyke said.

“We’ll be providing Flipper the dolphin to facilitate their visit,” he said, dramatizing the Bush campaign’s accusation that Mr. Kerry has a history of “flip-flopping” on issues.

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