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Republicans Raise Heat on Democrats During Convention

In the past, when one U.S. political party held its presidential nominating convention, the other major party traditionally stayed low-key, but not anymore. This year, as VOA's Jeffrey Young reports, Republican Party leaders went to Denver to monitor the Democratic National Convention and quickly respond to speeches and activities.

For a week, Denver in the Rocky Mountain state of Colorado was the scene of the Democratic National Convention.  The party nominated Senators Barack Obama and Joe Biden to run for president and vice president, respectively, in November.

But there were more than Democrats in Denver. The Republican Party (also known by the nickname GOP, for Grand Old Party) was there as well, setting up a so-called war room near the convention site. Republican operatives carefully watched events.  They countered what Democrats said with e-mails and other communications to the media, conservative talk shows, and their own party's faithful.

Obama campaign Press Secretary Bill Burton is dismissive toward the Republican's counter-programming. "I would say they [the Republicans] have been harshly negative because they have nothing to offer," Burton said.

A number of political analysts see the GOP operation in Denver as an appropriate tactic.  One is David Mark, Senior Editor of a politically-focused Internet site, 'Politico.com.' "I think it is a smart strategy on the behalf of Republicans," Mark said. "Why cede the spotlight to the Democrats when you have an opportunity to attack them? I imagine the Democrats, if they are smart, will do something similar and really hammer away at McCain during his convention next week in St. Paul, Minnesota.

Some Republican luminaries went to Denver as part of the party's most visible counter-convention effort to date, including onetime presidential candidate former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney. "I want to make sure that beyond the ceremony and the celebrity and the pomp and circumstance [at the Democratic National Convention], we actually have a discussion of issues," Romney said.

The GOP onslaught against the Democrats includes controversial TV ads for presumptive presidential nominee Senator John McCain. They found testimonials made by Democrats, including vice-presidential nominee Senator Joe Biden, from McCain's 2000 presidential bid to use in this year's clash.

TV AD:
ANNOUNCER: "And what does he [Biden] say about John McCain?"
BIDEN: "I would be honored to run with or against John McCain because the country would be better off."

Another TV Ad
ANNOUNCER: "She won millions of votes, but is not on his [Obama's] ticket. Why? For speaking the truth on his plans."
CLINTON: "You never hear the specifics."

Clinton responded angrily at the Republican ruse. "And, let me state what I think about their tactics and these ads," Clinton said. "I'm Hillary Clinton, and I do NOT approve that message."

As the TV ads were broadcast, John McCain was out on the campaign trail. In the southwestern city of Phoenix, Arizona, the candidate sought and received an endorsement targeted to young and Hispanic voters from reggaeton-style music star Ramon Ayala, known as "Daddy Yankee." One of his fans says he understands McCain's tactics here.

"Let's say that not a lot of [young] people listen to the politics, but they [do] listen to Daddy Yankee, and that is like a big influence on them to vote, too," the fan said.

Because of the Republican assault on the Democratic convention messages, analysts say it only makes sense for the Democrats to respond with equal force at John McCain's nominating convention in St. Paul [in the north-central state of] Minnesota.

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