Friday, February 03, 2006

Bayh urges Democrats to challenge Bush on security

We could not agree more!

Although we are still not too sure about Mr. Bayh, and have no plans of supporting him for president or anything else, he is right on about this.

Now, if we can only get the MSM to cover Democrat positions on national security, or anything else for that matter.

By John Whitesides, Political Correspondent

WASHINGTON, Feb 2 (Reuters) - Democratic Sen. Evan Bayh, a potential 2008 White House contender, urged Democrats on Thursday to confront Republicans on the campaign trail over President George W. Bush's failures on national security and "stunning incompetence" in Iraq.

Bayh said Democrats should accept the challenge issued by Bush's political adviser Karl Rove, who told Republican leaders two weeks ago they should use the national security issue to their advantage in November's congressional elections the way they did in 2002 and 2004.

"Karl Rove and George W. Bush have been much better at national security politics than national security policy. They may have won some elections, but the American people have lost valuable ground," the moderate Indiana senator said in a speech at the Center for Strategic and International Studies.

"Some in my party are afraid of this fight. They urge that we change the subject to domestic issues that work better for Democrats," Bayh said. "I could not disagree more forcefully."

While Bush "dithered," Bayh said, North Korea built up its nuclear program, two-thirds of Russia's weapons-grade nuclear material remained inadequately stored and Iran moved closer to a nuclear bomb.

Iraq, meanwhile, is now a haven for foreign terrorists, faces a possible civil war and is more susceptible to Iranian influence than it was before the U.S. invasion in 2003, he said.

"There is absolutely no question the war has been prosecuted with stunning incompetence," Bayh said.

National security and the war on terrorism have been consistent areas of political strength for Bush and Republicans since the Sept. 11 attacks. Polls show it remains the one issue on which the public favors Republicans heading into November's elections for control of Congress.

Rove's pep talk to Republicans two weeks ago angered some Democrats who accused the deputy chief of staff, the architect of Bush's election wins in 2000 and 2004, of using the wars in Iraq and against terrorism for political gain.

But Bayh said such issues were crucial to the election and could benefit Democrats if they reversed the party's image, born in the Vietnam War-era, of weakness on military and security issues.

"We must begin by speaking loudly and clearly against the way that this administration has undermined our nation's security and bungled the war on terror," Bayh said, adding Bush's image of toughness proved "tough is not enough. We need a foreign policy that is both tough and smart."

Bayh, a former governor of Indiana and former head of the centrist Democratic Leadership Council, is part of a large field of potential contenders in a wide open race for the Democratic presidential nomination in 2008.

Bayh has been positioning himself as a centrist alternative to Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton of New York, who leads early public opinion polls on the Democratic race. No candidate has entered the White House race yet, with most waiting until after November's elections.

On Iran, Bayh said the United States should immediately seek strong sanctions from the UN Security Council and make clear the consequences of Iran's continued nuclear activity, including the potential use of force.

Bayh also called for adding 100,000 troops to the Army to ease the Iraq war's strain on the U.S. military and said he supported clear benchmarks and timelines for success in Iraq.

"To my party, I urge that we do not change the subject or attempt to avoid this fight," he said of the national security debate. "It is our chance to show the American people that we are tough enough and smart enough to protect this great country in perilous and uncertain times."


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