Foiling of plot could help Bush in fall campaign
The uncovering by British authorities of the terror plot is expected to strengthen President Bush's hand in campaigning for Republican candidates this fall.
GOP strategists say that the latest developments prove that Bush's vigilance in the war on terrorism is paying off and that he is, indeed, working with allies--particularly Great Britain--to foil plots by the "evildoers." The continuing bad news from Iraq has depressed both Bush's job approval ratings and support for U.S. policy in Iraq, but the British arrests will now be portrayed by Republican strategists and White House officials as evidence that the broader war on terrorism is being waged effectively--and, more subtly, that the country can rely on--Republicans in Congress rather thanthe Democrats to keep them safe.
"The Democrats see this as a law enforcement issue, and we see it as a war," says a Bush adviser. Indeed, Republican polling has shown that national security issues still resonate strongly with the GOP base.
How the terrorist plot will affect those basing their campaigns on anti-Iraq war sentiment is less clear. In Connecticut on Tuesday, Democratic upstart Ned Lamont defeated incumbent Joseph Lieberman for the party's Senate nomination partly by challenging Lieberman's support for the war in Iraq. But antiwar Democrats and strategists maintain that the war in Iraq has drained critical resources and attention from the war on terrorists and al Qaeda, which is based mainly in Afghanistan and Pakistan. They argue there is a disconnect--not a connection--between the war on terrorism and Iraq.