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Democrats Intend to Emphasize Economic Issues in Election Campaign - 2002-09-18

U.S. Senate Majority Leader Tom Daschle has issued a scathing attack on President Bush's record on the U.S. economy. Democrats say it is the opening salvo in their campaign to highlight domestic issues ahead of November's crucial mid-term elections.

Senator Daschle, a South Dakota Democrat, took to the Senate floor to accuse President Bush of doing little to improve the sluggish U.S. economy or address job losses and stock market declines.

"Regardless of what we do with Iraq and the war on terror," he said, "I would hope this administration would dedicate some of the time each week to economic security as well, to these declining numbers, to this atrocious record, to a recognition that it takes leadership not only with regard to international and foreign policy, but leadership here at home on economic policy as well."

Those comments brought an immediate response from the Senate's top Republican, Senator Trent Lott of Mississippi. "What are you going to do about it? What is your plan? What is your budget?" he asked.

Democrats believe the November 5 elections will be decided on domestic issues, particularly the sluggish U.S. economy rather than on possible war with Iraq and the ongoing war on terrorism, which have been President Bush's focus.

Public opinion polls traditionally have shown that Americans view the Democrats as stronger on domestic issues.

Democrats hope their strategy will increase their one-seat majority in the Senate and wrest control of the House from Republicans. But races in many states appear close, and either party could emerge in control of the House and Senate.