According to Washington insiders in the Grand Old Party, their political focus this year against Democrats will be on fear.
Of course, they don't say it.
But a revealing poll of insiders in the National Journal magazine this week says it all. Their three biggest political strengths, the GOP heavyweights say, are the war on terrorism, taxes, and immigration.
The war on terrorism is real but it was brought about by the Bush-Cheney-Rice machine of deception, hype, and outright lies. That trio and their allies attempted to link Iraq and Saddam Hussein with weapons of mass destruction, al Qaeda, and every other evil they they could charge.
Bush has played on fear in virtually every public statement about Iraq or Afghanistan.
The tax-and-spend accusation is an old one, and too many Democrats shirk from attacking the administration for hypocrisy. The bill for the wars is certain to climb well over $1 trillion.
Yet, Bush continues to talk about permanent tax cuts. This crowd is quite willing to let future generations pay the bill. The GOP has lost its bearings on fiscal responsibility and against deficits.
Immigration is a no-brainer. The debates among the presidential contenders are virtual contests of fear and hate. Rep. Tom Tancredo of Colorado, the campaign dropout, was right when he said the other candidates were singing his tune of anger and contempt for immigrants.
Only Sen. John McCain has been a voice of reason and it may hurt him.
One anonymous Republican conceded the point on immigration: "The Democrats don't understand why these things scare people."
There you have it. Scare the hell out of voters and blame Democrats for being soft on immigration.
As for Democratic insiders, they think the economy, healthcare, and Iraq will help most in November. No one wants a recession, but even conservative economists are admitting there may be one in 2008.
The president and his advisers are considering a stimulus package. You can wager tax cuts will be part of it. There will be little said about the billions spent every week on the war without a care in the world about paying for it.
The survey should prepare Democrats for a heavy dose of fear as the campaign continues.