Republicans try to change subject from Bush
WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Republicans, beset by an array of political troubles, are cranking up the attacks on Democrats and trying to change the subject from President George W. Bush ahead of November's congressional elections.
With Bush slumping in the polls and Republicans on the defensive over the Iraq war and a series of ethics scandals, the party wants to shift the spotlight away from the White House by convincing voters that Democratic rule would be a dangerous choice.
Republicans hope the strategy will limit the national momentum that Democrats might ride into November and fire up the party's conservative base to ensure they turn up at the polls.
A Time magazine poll released on Friday showed Democrats favored for House seats by a 9-point margin over Republicans. Among the 1,003 respondents, fewer than two in five approved of the job either party was doing in Congress.
Vice President Dick Cheney fired the latest salvos against Democrats on Friday, saying their "sorry record" on security issues proved they were not capable of leading the war on terrorism.
"Some Democrats in Congress have decided that the president is the enemy," Cheney said at a fund-raiser in Orlando, Florida, referring to objections raised against Bush's domestic surveillance program.
Republican Party chief Ken Mehlman has led attacks on Wisconsin Democratic Sen. Russ Feingold's push for a censure resolution against Bush and Democratic calls for a phased withdrawal of U.S. troops from Iraq.
Republicans say the strategy is designed to get them off the defensive about their recent political problems, including scandals involving high-profile party leaders and uproars over a now-dead Arab port deal and a secret eavesdropping program.
Those difficulties have eaten away at public support for Bush and the Republican-led Congress in recent polls. But Republicans also believe Democrats, who have yet to develop a unified approach on Iraq or a uniform domestic agenda for the fall, remain vulnerable.
Like a mad dog that's been cornered, the Republicans are showing their teeth.