War on Terrorism Shapes up as a Major Issue for 2006 US Elections

Jim MaloneKathy Scarrah

President Bush continues his push to rally domestic support for the U.S.-led effort in Iraq and the overall war on terrorism.  But with congressional elections looming in November, opposition Democratic Party members are not backing away from criticizing the president's handling of Iraq and the war on terror. VOA's Jim Malone takes a closer look.

The president's effort to buttress public support for the situation in Iraq and the overall war on terror began late in 2005 amid opinion polls that showed dwindling public confidence in his handling of both issues.

In recent days, Mr. Bush has remained on the offensive as he described one of the guiding principles of his presidency. "September 11th, 2001, our nation saw that vast oceans and great distances could no longer keep us safe.  I made a decision that day that America will not wait to be attacked again."

Opposition Democrats are somewhat split on what to do about Iraq.  A group that includes Democratic House Leader Nancy Pelosi favors a  withdrawal of U.S. troops over the next several months.  But many Democrats in Congress believe U.S. forces will have to stay much longer in order to help bring stability to Iraq.

And many Democrats are not shy about criticizing the president's overall handling of the war on terror. 

Democratic Senator Joe Biden sits on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee.  He spoke on ABC's This Week program. "The president made a speech four years ago about the axis of evil.   What's happened, George? Korea has four times more nuclear capability than it had before. Iran's on the brink of nuclear capability. Iraq is somewhat in chaos and with Iran's influence growing. They've gotten failing grades from the 9/11 Commission for not protecting our ports, our roads, our highways, and our air lanes."

The president's Republican supporters point to the fact that there have been no further attacks on the U.S. mainland since the 9-11 attacks on New York, Washington and Pennsylvania.

Mr. Bush says the war on terrorism has produced success against al-Qaida.  But he is also quick to warn Americans not to become complacent. "We cannot let the fact that America has not been attacked in four and one-half years since September 11th lull us into an illusion that the threats to our nation have disappeared.  They have not."

Political experts believe the president is right to continue to rally support both for Iraq and the war on terrorism.

Amy Walter is the Senior Editor of The Cook Political Report, a non-partisan publication, which provides analysis of American politics.  "For Republicans and for the President, this is an issue in which they continue to have positive ratings for voters.  In fact, when you look at the whole litany of issues out there that voters are interested in, terrorism is basically the one issue in which Republicans have an advantage over Democrats." 

Miss Walter says since the Vietnam War, when Democrats were associated with the anti-war movement, the Republican Party has been strongly associated with defense and national security issues.

She says Democrats will attempt to find a delicate political balance in advance of the November congressional elections, and the 2008 presidential campaign.

"They want to go up against whoever the Republican nominee is as strong as possible on national security issues, to be credentialed on those issues.  Basically, to say that this is not something that only Republicans can talk about."

Republicans have been encouraged by a slight boost in the president's popularity since he began his series of speeches to buttress support for Iraq and the war on terror. 

But Democrats believe they have an opportunity to make gains in the November election, saying Republicans will be on the defensive over Iraq and domestic issues like the economy, the growing cost of health care and a congressional corruption scandal involving once powerful Republican lobbyist, Jack Abramoff.

Miss Walter agrees. "This is the first midterm election where it looks like we have the traditional makings of a change election, a referendum election. "

One-third of the U.S. Senate and all 435 representatives will be on the November ballot.

This forum has been closed.
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
After Paris Attacks, France Steps Up Fight Against ISi
November 24, 2015 3:04 AM
The November 13 Paris attacks have drawn increased attention to Syria, where many of the suspected perpetrators are said to have received training. French President Francois Hollande is working to build a broad international coalition to defeat Islamic State in Syria and in Iraq. Zlatica Hoke reports.

Video After Paris Attacks, France Steps Up Fight Against IS

The November 13 Paris attacks have drawn increased attention to Syria, where many of the suspected perpetrators are said to have received training. French President Francois Hollande is working to build a broad international coalition to defeat Islamic State in Syria and in Iraq. Zlatica Hoke reports.

Video US, Cambodian Navies Pair Up in Gulf of Thailand

The U.S. Navy has deployed one of its newest and most advanced ships to Cambodia to conduct joint training drills in the Gulf of Thailand. Riding hull-to-hull with Cambodian ships, the seamen of the USS Fort Worth are executing joint-training drills that will help build relations in Southeast Asia. David Boyle reports for VOA from Preah Sihanouk province.

Video Americans Sharpen Focus on Terrorism

Washington will be quieter than usual this week due to the Thanksgiving holiday, even as Americans across the nation register heightened concerns over possible terrorist threats. VOA’s Michael Bowman reports new polling data from ABC News and the Washington Post newspaper show an electorate increasingly focused on security issues after the deadly Islamic State attacks in Paris.

Video World Leaders Head to Paris for Climate Deal

Heads of state from nearly 80 countries are heading to Paris (November 30-December 11) to craft a global climate change agreement. The new accord will replace the Kyoto Protocol on Climate Change that expired in 2012.

Video Uncertain Future for Syrian Refugee Resettlement in Illinois

For the trickle of Syrian refugees finding new homes in the Midwest city of Chicago, the call to end resettlement in many U.S. states is adding another dimension to their long journey fleeing war. Organizations working to help them integrate say the backlash since the Paris attacks is both harming and helping their efforts to provide refugees sanctuary. VOA's Kane Farabaugh reports.

Video Creating Physical Virtual Reality With Tiny Drones

As many computer gamers know, virtual reality is a three-dimensional picture, projected inside special googles. It can fool your brain into thinking the computer world is the real world. But If you try to touch it, it’s not there. Now Canadian researchers say it may be possible to create a physical virtual reality using tiny drones. VOA’s George Putic reports.

Video New American Indian Village Takes Visitors Back in Time

There is precious little opportunity to experience what life was like in the United States before its colonization by European settlers. Now, an American Indian village built in a park outside Washington is taking visitors back in time to experience the way of life of America's indigenous people. Carol Pearson narrates this report from VOA's June Soh.

Video Even With Hometown Liberated, Yazidi Refugees Fear Return

While the northern Iraqi town of Sinjar has been liberated from Islamic State forces, it's not clear whether Yazidi residents who fled the militants will now return home. VOA’s Mahmut Bozarslan talked with Yazidis, a religious and ethnic minority, at a Turkish refugee camp in Diyarbakır. Robert Raffaele narrates his report.

Video Nairobi Tailors Make Pope Francis’ Vestments

To ensure the pope is properly attired during his visit, the Kenya Conference of Catholic Bishops asked the Dolly Craft Sewing Project in the Nairobi slum of Kangemi to make the pope's vestments, the garments he will wear during the various ceremonies. Jill Craig reports.

Video Cross-Border Terrorism Puts Europe’s Passport-Free Travel in Doubt

The fallout from the Islamic State terror attacks in Paris has put the future of Europe’s passport-free travel area, known as the "Schengen Zone," in doubt. Several of the perpetrators were known to intelligence agencies, but were not intercepted. Henry Ridgwell reports from London European ministers are to hold an emergency meeting Friday in Brussels to look at ways of improving security.

Video El Niño Brings Unexpected Fish From Mexico to California

Fish in an unexpected spectrum of sizes, shapes and colors are moving north, through El Niño's warm currents from Mexican waters to the Pacific Ocean off California’s coast. El Nino is the periodic warming of the eastern and central Pacific Ocean. As Faiza Elmasry tells us, this phenomenon thrills scientists and gives anglers the chance of a once-in-a-lifetime big catch. Faith Lapidus narrates.

Video Terrorism in Many Forms Continues to Plague Africa

While the world's attention is on Paris in the wake of Friday night's deadly attacks, terrorism from various sides remains a looming threat in many African countries. Nigerian cities have been targeted this week by attacks many believe were staged by the violent Islamist group Boko Haram. In addition, residents in many regions are forced to flee their homes as they are terrorized by armed militias. Zlatica Hoke reports.

Video Study: Underage Marriage Rate Higher for Females in Pakistan

While attitudes about the societal role of females in Pakistan are evolving, research by child advocacy group Plan International suggests that underage marriage of girls remains a particularly big issue in the country. VOA’s Ayesha Tanzeem reports how such marriages leads to further social problems.

VOA Blogs