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The Democratic Strategist

Political Strategy for a Permanent Democratic Majority

Confronting the “Cut and Run” Label

Mid-term campaigners should consider a couple of good ideas for dealing with the GOP’s tactic of demonizing Dems with the “cut and run” label. The first one comes from Gadflyer Paul Waldman:

So how do they [Dems} get on offense? Simple: make it about Bush and the Republicans. When a reporter asks you, “The Republicans say you want to cut and run, what’s your response?”, do not – DO NOT – repeat the phrase “cut and run” in your answer. The answer should be about the Republicans, not about you: “The Republicans want to stay in Iraq forever. We want to figure out how we can redeploy our forces. While our troops are fighting and dying every day, Republicans tell us that everything in Iraq is going great. What planet are they living on? Do they have a plan to end our involvement there, or do they think our children and grandchildren should be dodging IEDs in Tal Afar, too?” Make it about THEM. Put THEM on the defensive. And when the reporter says, “Democrats are divided on this. How will you win in November if you’re divided?”, DON’T TAKE THE BAIT. Don’t talk about how the plan you favor differs from other Democratic plans. Talk about the Republicans, for God’s sake.

The second comes from a comment at MyDD by ralphlopez, who suggests:

“It’s not cutting and running, it’s getting the war on terror BACK ON TRACK, by securing the victory in Afghanistan, focusing on bin Laden, and getting our troops out from the middle of a civil war. Our presence in Iraq is LOSING the war on terror, not winning it…”

Then there’s the ever-quotable Rep John Murtha, also from the ralphlopez comment:

You know who wants us to stay in Iraq right now? Al Qaeda wants us there because it recruits people for them. China wants us there. North Korea wants us there. Russia wants us there.

Better if the ‘back on track’ slogan could be used without mentioning ‘cut and run,’ as Waldman argues. ‘Back on Track’ does evoke an image of a train out of control, which is as good a metaphor for the Administration’s Iraq policy as we’re likely to find, with the possible exception of a demolition derby.