Weighed down by the unpopular war in Iraq, Bush and his aides have tried to shift the national political debate from that conflict to the broader and more popular global war on terrorism ahead of November 7 congressional elections.
The London conspiracy is "a stark reminder that this nation is at war with Islamic fascists who will use any means to destroy those of us who love freedom, to hurt our nation," the president said on a day trip to Wisconsin.
"It is a mistake to believe there is no threat to the United States of America," he said. "We've taken a lot of measures to protect the American people. But obviously we still aren't completely safe."
His remarks came a day after the White House orchestrated an exceptionally aggressive campaign to tar opposition Democrats as weak on terrorism, knowing what Democrats didn't: News of the plot could soon break.
Vice President Dick Cheney and White House spokesman Tony Snow had argued that Democrats wanted to raise what Snow called "a white flag in the war on terror," citing as evidence the defeat of a three-term Democratic senator who backed the Iraq war in his effort to win renomination.
But Bush aides on Thursday fought the notion that they had exploited their knowledge of the coming British raid to hit Democrats, saying the trigger had been the defeat of Democratic Senator Joseph Lieberman of Connecticut by an anti-war political novice.
"The comments were purely and simply a reaction" to Democratic voters who "removed a pro-defense Senator and sent the message that the party would not tolerate candidates with such views," said Snow.
The public relations offensive "was not done in anticipation. It was not said with the knowledge that this was coming," the spokesman said.
Snow said Bush first learned in detail about the plot on Friday, and received two detailed briefings on it on Saturday and Sunday, as well as had two conversations about it with British Prime Minister Tony Blair.
But a senior White House official said that the British government had not launched its raid until well after Cheney held a highly unusual conference call with reporters to attack the Democrats as weak against terrorism.
"Weeks before September 11th, this is going to play big," said another White House official, who also spoke on condition of not being named, adding that some Democratic candidates won't "look as appealing" under the circumstances.
So what is a sane person to think? They launch their Lieberman offensive yesterday knowing full well that this raid was coming. Bush and Cheney both knew that they were going to drag out the "Terrorism Rainbow" and that this was the time to start building the fear and weak on security Democrat narrative for the fall elections. Just like they have been using 9/11 since 2001 whenever it suited their political they are going to milk this for all it is worth.
No Democrat I know has said that we should turn our backs on terrorism and"hide behind our oceans" all we have said is that the war in Iraq is not the war on terrorism and is, in fact, making us less safe and that we should disengage and put our efforts and gold where it will pay some dividends. We need to remind "the people" that it is has been the GOP cutting TSA budgets and who has failed to protect our ports and critical infrastructure. Hey folks 9/11 happened on the GOP watch.
ht to AmericaBlog