Monday, April 24, 2006
By Liz Sidoti
The choice of New Orleans for the Democratic National Committee held last week was part of a political calculation, as is a three-day agenda for the 400 delegates that combines party business with community service.
Eight months after Hurricane Katrina and the widespread criticism of the administration's response, Democrats hope their reconstruction work leaves an image with voters that lasts through the congressional midterm elections.
"It's reinforcing an impression that is widely held among the public and one that will be a critical theme for Democrats across the country-namely that this administration is dangerously incompetent," said Steve McMahon, a Democratic strategist and a longtime adviser to party chairman Howard Dean. Republicans chalked up the Democrats' New Orleans meeting to grandstanding.
"I'm not sure what the Democrats hope to gain except cheap political points at the expense of Louisiana and the White House," said Glen Bolger, a GOP strategist and pollster.
Republicans accuse their counterparts of exploiting a tragedy in an election year.
"While President Bush maintains an unwavering commitment to rebuilding the Gulf Coast, Democrats remain just as committed to political posturing for short-term gain," said Tracey Schmitt, a Republican National Committee spokeswoman.