Meeting of DNC Focuses on Way To Unseat GOP
Democratic Party officials continue to assemble the pieces for their midterm election strategy, but questions about the party's overall message, differences on Iraq, reservations about their leaders, and debates about campaign tactics contribute to concerns that they may not be positioned to take advantage of the most favorable political climate since President Bush was elected.
The Democrats came to New Orleans this week to highlight what they want the midterm elections to be about: a referendum on Bush's leadership and competence. Just as Iraq symbolizes Americans' disenchantment with Bush's foreign policy, New Orleans stands as a poignant reminder of the breakdown of government after Hurricane Katrina hit the Gulf Coast.
"We have to do two things," said Bobby Kahn, the Georgia Democratic Party chairman. "One, disqualify the Republicans, and two, provide an alternative. The first part, they've done for us, and the second part, we need to do."
Still, some party leaders believe Republican advantages in running campaigns has begun to erode with Bush's declining poll numbers. In 2002, for example, Georgia was at ground zero in demonstrating the power of GOP campaign techniques, as an unexpected surge of Republican voters defeated both then-Sen. Max Cleland and then-Gov. Roy Barnes. In 2004, the Republican turnout operation proved superior once again in many battlegrounds.
Now Kahn sees hope for Democrats. In past elections, the appeal of Bush as messenger helped motivate grass-roots Republicans, and party mechanics did the rest to get them to the polls. "They had the ultimate messenger," he said. "Well, I don't think that works right now -- not even in Georgia. The national meltdown has found its way to Georgia. Now we have to pick up the ball and run with it."