I’m Joe and Suzie Six-Pack, and I voted for Bush in 2004. I don’t like how the war is going, and I don’t trust Bush anymore. But, I think maybe he’s right — that you’re demoralizing our soldiers and giving the enemy comfort when you criticize him.
You’re Nancy Pelosi. You’re Harry Reid. You’re Jay Rockefeller. You’re Howard Dean. How do you counter the new White House strategy? What’s your strategy? What are your counter-arguments?
WOLF BLITZER: The president of the United States speaking to U.S. troops and their families at Elmendorf Air Force Base in Alaska, on his way to Asia — the president restating what he said in Pennsylvania on Friday, but, this time, going beyond and specifically going after three other Democratic leaders in the U.S. Senate.
On Friday, he went after John Kerry, his Democratic presidential opponent of last year. And, today, he is directly going after, without mentioning their names, Senator Jay Rockefeller, the vice chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee, Harry Reid, the Senate Democratic leader, and Carl Levin, the ranking Democrat on the Senate Armed Services Committee, citing statements they made in the buildup to the war, in effect, accusing them now of undermining the U.S. troops and encouraging terrorists to operate against the United States — strong words from the president on his way to Asia.
Let’s bring in our senior analyst, Jeff Greenfield.
What’s the president’s strategy here, Jeff?
JEFF GREENFIELD, CNN SENIOR ANALYST: I think the point here, Wolf, is for the president to try to make the case that there’s an undermining going on here.
And I think those are — those are very strong words the president used. That it sends mixed signals to the enemy and mixed signals to the troops — to the troops is a way of saying, if you now go back and say that I, the president of the United States, misled or lied us into a war, you’re encouraging our enemies and you are — and you are discouraging the troops, because that is always the strongest card that any president has to play when public support for combat diminishes, as our — as every poll shows it has been here.
And I think the idea is to say, look: They were saying the same things I was about Saddam Hussein. And for them now to go and say they were misled is just wrong.
Now, there’s going to be a real debate going on, on two quick levels, if I may. One, did the congressional leaders have the same access to intelligence that the administration had? There’s — there’s a real debate about that one. And, second, the White House is — is arguing that — that commissions have said that there was no twisting of intelligence.
That’s not exactly what those Intelligence Committees were — were finding. They found that that — that the administration did not pressure intelligence operatives to change the intelligence. What they did with that intelligence, those committees have said, was not in their purview.
But, clearly, in Pennsylvania and again today, the president is really trying to turn the tables and say, it’s you Democrats who are partly responsible for the uncertainty out in the land. I think, by the way, it’s also a way to say, that — that’s why my poll numbers are going down. It’s because Democrats are misleading people about the history — Wolf. … Continued below:
BLITZER: It sounds like some of the campaign rhetoric that we heard last year, going into the election. It’s still a year away from the midterm elections. But it certainly has that ringing give-and- take, that back-and-forth.
GREENFIELD: Well, you may remember the — it was a line much quoted at the Republican Convention. And, obviously, it’s overstated, as journalists are wont to do.
But one journalist, Roger Simon, said that the message of the Republican Convention was, vote for Bush or die, his — his satirical point being, they were trying to make the case that, if John Kerry were put in the White House, his uncertainty would weaken the United States. What you’re getting now, a year — almost a year to the day after the — the reelection of the president, is an argument from the White House saying: We know things are going — are — are tough. We just heard the president acknowledge that. But — but, if you Democrats try to refight the basis for going into this war, you’re misleading the people.
And that, I believe, is what the White House wants people to focus on. Look, they read these poll numbers. I don’t care what any politician says. They know what the poll numbers say. And they are trying to change those numbers.
BLITZER: Jeff Greenfield, helping us better understand what’s going on, as he always does — Jeff, thank you very much.