WASHINGTON, Aug. 11 (UPI) -- With a midterm election coming -- and a potential bellwether in Sen. Joseph Lieberman's primary loss -- the GOP is portraying Democrats as weak on defense.
Lieberman, the Connecticut Democrat who has maintained his support for Republican President George W. Bush and the Iraq war despite tanking poll numbers for both, lost his primary race against Ned Lamont. The Lamont campaign aggressively championed ending the war, and the message had resonance for many voters.
It may be an indication of changes to come in the midterm election in November if voters nationwide are similarly disaffected, and could put one or both houses into Democratic control.
On Thursday Republican National Committee Chairman Ken Mehlman began circulating a paper attacking the Democratic voting record on the national missile defense system.
"During the Bush administration, Democrats have voted against missile defense at least nine times," the paper states. "When Democrats were in control of Congress they cut billions from missile defense."
The paper lists all the votes, by name and number, and then states: "Democrats would have (left) us helpless against North Korea's missiles," a reference to the July 4th and 5th launch by North Korea of a long-range missile, which failed, and six short- and medium-range missiles.
While the nascent U.S. national missile defense system was put on alert for the launch and theater missile defense assets were also monitoring the launches, no U.S. system was actually used to intercept the North Korea warheads.
"Ken Mehlman is complaining about money spent on a system that did not work when the North Koreans tested a missile and has demonstrated no capacity for a reliable defense of the United States," said John Isaacs, the president of the Council for a Livable World, an arms control advocacy group in Washington.
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