While President Bush returns to his Texas ranch next week during the Democratic National Convention, the Bush-Cheney campaign and the Republican National Committee are planning a major offensive to blunt Sen. John Kerry’s expected “bounce” in the polls.
The RNC plans to deploy a “fully operational truth squad” in the shadow of the Fleet Center in Boston to handle rapid response to the Democrats, who Republicans say are going to attempt an “extreme makeover” of the Massachusetts liberal’s 19-year Senate record.
“We’re going to set the record straight as Democrats try to sell a story to the American people that’s completely disconnected from the reality,” said Steve Schmidt, a spokesman for the Bush-Cheney re-election campaign.
The response team will be made up of more than a dozen Republicans, including former New York City Mayor Rudolph W. Giuliani, Sen. Norm Coleman of Minnesota, Colorado Gov. Bill Owens and former U.S. Treasurer Rosario Marin.
Vice President Dick Cheney also will stay on the attack, campaigning three days of the four-day convention, touring Washington, California and Utah.
From Boston, Republicans will hold a daily 10 a.m. press conference and feed radio rebuttals by Republican surrogates to hundreds of talk-radio stations across the country.
“Briefing materials on John Kerry’s voting record will be e-mailed to thousands of newspaper and Internet news outlets in real time during all prime-time speeches,” the RNC said yesterday.
“Democrats will be working very hard next week to give John Kerry’s voting record an extreme makeover,” said RNC Chairman Ed Gillespie said yesterday in a conference call with reporters. “If the Democrats’ cosmetic convention succeeds in hiding John Kerry’s record, he could see a 15- point bounce in the polls.”
Mr. Gillespie and Bush-Cheney campaign manager Ken Mehlman said they know what they’re up against during the convention, which begins Monday.
“We realize the party hosting the convention dominates media coverage, but we are going to swim upstream in Boston and highlight some of these areas where there is such a stark contrast between the rhetoric you’re going to hear from the stage and the reality of John Kerry’s record and the policies he’s proposing,” the RNC chief said.
Mr. Mehlman said the nonpartisan National Journal rates Mr. Kerry and his running mate, Sen. John Edwards of North Carolina, as the first- and fourth-most liberal in the Senate, respectively.
“So we can expect to see a cosmetic convention, which will hope to take a far-left duckling and produce a centrist swan.”
To aid in the offensive, Republicans also are starting a Web site chronicling Mr. Kerry’s record — www.demsextrememakeover.com.
On July 30, the day after Mr. Kerry is expected to accept the nomination, Mr. Bush is scheduled to campaign in the Midwest, kicking off what aides said will be a month-long onslaught until the Republican convention in New York City, which begins Aug. 30.