Democrats Weren't Negative in Boston, Says Bush Critic

By Robert B. Bluey | July 7, 2008 | 8:30pm EDT

New York ( - Iowa Gov. Tom Vilsack, who was designated by the Democratic Party to lead the attack on President Bush this week, claimed Thursday that Democrats didn't turn negative at their party's convention in July.

"Our convention didn't focus on George Bush, the person," Vilsack said at a Democratic press briefing. "We hardly even mentioned President Bush. What we talked about was how we could help ordinary Americans."

Statistics compiled on certain Democrats' speeches in Boston tell a slightly different story. The Republican National Committee kept track of the comments and released a minute-by-minute breakdown of the speeches' content.

"There was a better than a 2-to-1 ratio in time allocation of attacks on the president vs. laudatory comments about Sen. Kerry's agenda," said Ed Gillespie, the RNC's chairman, after the Democrats' first night in Boston.

Gillespie pointed to speeches by former Presidents Jimmy Carter and Bill Clinton as evidence of the attacks on Bush, despite promises by Democratic presidential nominee Sen. John Kerry and the Democratic Party to put on a positive convention.

During his July 26 speech, for example, Carter declared, "We have watched with deep concern as all this goodwill [after Sept. 11] has been squandered by a virtually unbroken series of mistakes and miscalculations."

In his speech that same night, Clinton questioned whether America was better off now than before Bush won the presidency four years ago.

But in defense of his Democratic colleagues, Vilsack noted a difference between what he views as the facts about Bush vs. Republican smears of Kerry.

"The record is fair game," Vilsack said. "We're talking about the loss of jobs, the prescription drug bill that is not designed to help seniors, the number of uninsured Americans, the situation with America's standing in the world. This is a matter of fact.

"What they've done to John Kerry is basically spread deception and untruths about him as person," Vilsack added. "There's a fundamental difference."

Democratic Party leader Terry McAuliffe said Republicans erred by giving Georgia Sen. Zell Miller such a prominent role in Wednesday's program. McAuliffe said Americans don't want to hear Miller's attacks on Kerry.

"I feel bad for many parents who had to have their children walk away from the television with all the anger and venom that they spewed out last night," McAuliffe said of the speeches by Miller and Vice President Cheney.

"Our convention was one of optimism, hope, a positive vision by John Kerry of where he wants to take this country. The last three nights you have seen angry speeches. It has been negativity. It has been consistent attacks on Senator Kerry."

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