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Democrats Try to Run Against Bush/Cheney One More Time

By Ben Pershing

After picking up seats in both 2006 and 2008 by linking Republican candidates to George W. Bush and Dick Cheney, Democrats seem intent to find out whether that playbook will work one more time in 2010.

Even though Bush and Cheney have both been out of office for two months now, Democrats haven't stopped trying to use them as a campaign tool, tarring GOP hopefuls as acolytes of the duo that left the White House with historically low approval ratings.

On Monday, former Rep. Rob Simmons (R) announced that he would challenge Sen. Christopher Dodd (D) in Connecticut next year, giving the GOP a legitimate candidate against a veteran Senator whose own poll numbers have been dropping in recent months. But the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee didn't waste any time revealing its plan of attack against Simmons, issuing a release calling the former lawmaker "a staunch supporter" of Bush's policies and digging up a 2004 quote in which Simmons said he was "a big fan" of the president.

A couple of hours later, the DSCC went after another prized GOP recruit - Rob Portman, the former lawmaker and Bush administration official. After Cheney cited Portman as part of "a new generation of leaders" for the party in a CNN interview that aired Sunday, the DSCC reminded reporters of "Portman's key role on the Bush-Cheney Administration's economic team" and wondered - sarcastically - whether Cheney might come campaign for Portman in his contest for the Ohio seat being vacated by retiring Sen. George Voinovich (R).

And you can expect more attacks along those same lines against Rep. Roy Blunt (R) - a former member of the leadership and close ally of the Bush administration now running for Senate in Missouri.

The Democrats' strategy here is obvious. Bush and Cheney are still unpopular, so why not force Republican candidates either to embrace them or run away? The question, though, is whether that line of attack will lose its potency the third time around, and whether voters will tire of it by the time Election Day 2010 comes.

"My immediate reaction to seeing these recycled attacks was that if this their plan is to run the 2006 playbook in the 2010 election then I'm already more optimistic about the chances for Senate Republicans next year," said Brian Walsh, spokesman for the National Republican Senatorial Committee.

"Look, clearly this worked for the Democrats the last two cycles but they don't seem to have gotten the memo that George Bush is no longer the president. They are now the party in charge at a time when our country is facing very tough economic times, and they no longer have anyone to point fingers at."

So are Democrats admitting that they have nothing new to say? Or is it really the Republicans who are being unoriginal? That's the case Democrats make - the GOP is inviting these attacks by recruiting so cautiously, rather than seeking out fresh, independent voices.

"Given the state of the Republican brand right now, it is more than curious that the other side is running the faces of the party establishment," said DSCC spokesman Eric Schultz. "After all, running Rob Portman for Senate from Ohio is like asking the captain of the Titanic to be head of the Coast Guard."

Given that Bush and Cheney were in office for eight years, it would be difficult for Republicans to find many top-tier candidates who weren't linked to the former administration or at least supportive of its agenda. But veteran GOP candidates will have to try to make the case for why they represent change.

And regardless of whether Republicans succeed in that effort, or Democrats succeed in theirs, strategists in both parties know that 2010 won't be a referendum on the former president so much as the current one. The real question is one to which we won't know the answer for some time: In which direction will candidates run, toward President Obama or away from him?

By Ben Pershing  |  March 17, 2009; 4:10 PM ET
Categories:  2010 Campaign  
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It's certainly a strong point of attack at this point, and with people like Rush further exacerbating the situation, it's not a bad thing to be doing at this point. In 2010, though, it'll likely be a different story.

The wiser move would be to forget these past debacles and focus on constructive things. People are tired of divisive politics and while the Republican party is continuing to prove it's unwillingness to aid the nation, Democrats should be focusing on positive outputs, not negative ones. In other words, start getting stuff done and have something tangible to show for it by 2010. If they do that they're golden. Ball's in their court, they've got to show they can handle it.

Hopefully we can turn this economy around and actually focus on solving the deeper, systemic issues for why we're in this situation. Obviously bad banking's a good place to start, but there are other issues, like global poverty, that have huge economic and geopolitical ramifications.

The Borgen Project ( has some interesting insight into addressing the issues of global poverty, something we can remedy easily and sustainably.

Some interesting figures to ponder:
$30 billion USD: The annual shortfall to end global poverty.
$550 billion USD: The annual US defense budget.

Posted by: concernedcitizen1111 | March 17, 2009 4:34 PM | Report abuse

It was Cheney who suddenly resurfaced to start trying to spread fear and lies again, as always.

Are all Republicans so intellectually dishonest that within days of Cheney doing high profile interviews with softball minions, they would write a headline like you did?

I realize that "the base" is composed of pliable retards, but the rest of us just see more desperate propaganda.

You lost. Stop whining and lying, STFU and let the adults try and clean up your mess.

Posted by: savvywebdev | March 17, 2009 5:41 PM | Report abuse

This is a stupid column.

Cheney is still on the political scene by his own choice and if we attack Rush, Piyush Jindal, Faux News or anyone else in what is left of so called Republican leadership, we are considered snarky or worse.

So how do we attack Republicans, Ben, you are so smart, you tell us? Attack their future, say like, "we want them to fail"?

Go away until you have a coherent line of attack on Democrats. Hint: follow the money (crony capitalism)

Posted by: shrink2 | March 17, 2009 5:54 PM | Report abuse

"Even though Bush and Cheney have both been out of office for two months now,..."

Two whole months (almost) - ? This was probably one of the worst administrations in history, certainly among the bottom 5, they left us in a horrible situation in every conceivable respect, they are not even two months back in the rearview mirror, and you are calling Obama's assignment of responsibility to the Bush Administration, for all this trouble, some kind of campaign ploy for 2010?

Pal, you have this incredibly compressed perspective that you've created, that all of you folks in the media are LIVING in (unlike most normal people), and you have just GOT to back off, try to take SOME kind of long view, and regain a grasp of reality.

Bush was in office for eight years, he left office not quite two months ago, and you want Obama, and all of us, to address the reality of our current situation while trying to maintain some kind of warped pretense that Bush, Cheney & Co. never happened? Go - take a vacation, get out of town, don't take a Blackberry or laptop with you...and I GUARANTEE when you come back, you'll read the piece that you filed today and shudder.

Posted by: achilli | March 17, 2009 5:59 PM | Report abuse

If Republicans were smart, they would paint Al Sharpton and Jesse Jackson as the face of the Democratic party which by the way is not to far off from the truth.

These clowns are the two most divisive people in America, so much that even many African Americans can't stand them.

It certainly would balance out the Democrats linking every Republican with George Bush.

Posted by: targa47 | March 17, 2009 6:28 PM | Report abuse

The "stimulus" package is a political LEMON... and Obama owns it. Because of this and other spending -or some other debacle- the Democrats will get creamed in 2012. And Obama will never see 60% approval ratings again.

His shmoozing of the GOP was intended to bring "bipartisan" support completely on the Democrats' terms... but that part didn't go to plan. Instead, Republicans found Obama's my-way-or-the-highway, "I won" attitude repellant... so he was forced to invest much of is political capital to get it passed.
And he referred to it as "my bill" throughout... hard to see any political cover for him now if it doesn't work. All historical precendent and common sense suggests that it will not.
This massive spending now looks to be a huge gamble for Obama, both fiscally and politically. When all this pork and welfare fails to generate real economic gains, the Democrats will face a bloodbath in next year's midterm elections, IMO.

Posted by: ReaganiteRepublican | March 17, 2009 7:58 PM | Report abuse

I think the writer(s) of this article are suffering from that most modern malady -- 'post-information-overload semi-consciousness'.

The Bush/Cheney/Neocon machine is still alive and kicking (as recently as everyday since their ignominious departure) after 8 devastating years of mis-leadership, yet the democrats are NOW supposed to kowtow politely -- supplicant to the oh-so-wise demagogues who championed this goddamn mess to begin with.

I realize the WP needs stimulating headlines and gossipy tell-alls to keep the dollars flowing in, but must you adopt the 'Rupert Trash Rag' business model?

I dunno, maybe the editors are all asleep, but this is just another one of those ridiculous non-story, stir-the-pot articles we've seen so much of lately.


Posted by: alexjanes | March 17, 2009 8:15 PM | Report abuse


Posted by: GoFigger | March 17, 2009 10:53 PM | Report abuse

The only problem here :
Cheney is not gone. He was on CNN.
We should all ask ourselves, why was DICK on CNN and not Fox?

THe King relationship does not fly?

Maybe the International Red Cross Report might have something to do with DICK'S appearance on CNN.

After all, FOX and RUSH are his favs!

Don't be stupid!

Posted by: sasha2008 | March 18, 2009 10:14 AM | Report abuse

Hearing the Dems constantly beating up on Bush and Cheney even since they WON the White House seems childish. Lest we forget, the Dems controlled the purse strings and the law-making for the last two years of the Bush presidency. One thing you have to give to the Dems; they have developed the best propaganda machine since Joseph Goebbbels, and they wield it mercilessly on anyone that's perceived a political threat. I wish they would reserve some of that vitriol for the country's real enemy's.

Posted by: FLRudy | March 18, 2009 10:30 AM | Report abuse

Chaney is alive and well. He's up to his old tricks of the "A new Dooms Day Event" is coming.
It's surprising that Chaney came out of his bunker to address the media.
It's ironic that the now "hawk" was the one of many to duck the Viet Nam war.But then again he's just showing his "Yellow under Belley" for all to see.

Posted by: jiggy1119 | March 18, 2009 2:13 PM | Report abuse

The Democrats are going to be running, and running very successfully, against Bush/Cheney for the next twenty years. My folks weren't so much really Democrats. They went to the polls every year for the rest of their lives and voted against Hoover; at every level!

As I aged and came to understand I used to tease them about it. Were they still with me, I'd have apologized about seven yrs ago. Bush/Cheney have reset my Republican leaning values exactly as Hoover reset theirs. Any Republican space and ink on any ballot I see in the future will be a waste of taxpayers' money.

I shall wonder for the rest of my life how Bush, Cheny, and the GOP could be so consistanly and completely wrong about everything they did for eight years. Even a clock that doesn't run at all is correct twice per day!

Posted by: winger1 | March 18, 2009 5:21 PM | Report abuse

The damage that the Cheney/Bush regime visited on our nation and the world will reverberate for years, decades, to come. Details (like the Red Cross torture determination) continue, and will continue, to bubble up.

Running against these miscreants and their loyal minions will be an effective strategy so long as the suffering caused by their malice and incompetence echoes in living memory.

Posted by: cdmomega | March 20, 2009 2:47 PM | Report abuse

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