Donald Lambro

WASHINGTON -- Republicans are opening up a new campaign front in the elections that asks voters to think about who will be running Congress if the Democrats are returned to power in November.

People like House Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi who said "I don't really consider ourselves at war" with terrorism, who believes Osama bin Laden's capture will not "make us any safer" and who thinks this election "shouldn't be about national security."

Polls show that most voters do not really know much about what the Democrats would do about Iraq or the war on terrorism because their agenda does not say much about either. Voters know even less about the records and statements of the Democratic leaders who would take over the reins of power if voters put them in charge of the House.

The Republican National Committee and the GOP's congressional campaign committee, who want to correct this knowledge deficit, have begun an educational offensive to do so. It began last week with the first in a series of research papers on Pelosi and other Democratic leaders.

Pelosi, who could become House Speaker and third in line for the presidency, was asked on "Meet the Press" in May about her pledge to hold investigative hearings on the war in Iraq if Democrats took charge.

Could such hearings lead to President Bush's impeachment, moderator Tim Russert asked her. "Well," Pelosi replied, "you never know where the facts take you ..." While President Bush is sharpening his message on terrorism and other issues that are at stake in this election -- and lifting his job-approval polls to 44 percent in the process -- the GOP is looking for ways to remind voters that, like Pelosi, the Democrats' leftist leadership is far outside the nation's political mainstream.

They have been doing just that lately in congressional races where the Republicans are considered vulnerable. Like Indiana's 8th district where Republican Rep. John Hostettler faces challenger Brad Ellsworth, sheriff of Vanderburgh County. The NRCC is running a TV ad there that tells voters: "Here's something to think about. Democrats in Congress believe that your taxes should be higher to pay for their bigger government. They believe wiretapping of terrorist communications violates civil liberties. And Congressional Democrats believe that illegal immigrants should get amnesty. No matter how you slice it, a vote for Brad Ellsworth is a vote to put these Democrats in charge of Congress. But their agenda is just too risky."


Donald Lambro

Donald Lambro is chief political correspondent for The Washington Times.