‘Weeks before September 11th, this is going to play big.’ A White House official shares his glee that the raid on suspected terrorists in London “would yield political gains.
[Bush’s] remarks came a day after the White House orchestrated an exceptionally aggressive campaign to tar opposition Democrats as weak on terrorism, knowing what Democrats didn’t: News of the plot could soon break.
Dick Cheney and White House spokesman Tony Snow had argued that Democrats wanted to raise what Snow called “a white flag in the war on terror,” citing as evidence the defeat of a three-term Democratic senator who backed the Iraq war in his effort to win renomination.
But Bush aides on Thursday fought the notion that they had exploited their knowledge of the coming British raid to hit Democrats, saying the trigger had been the defeat of Democratic Senator Joseph Lieberman of Connecticut by an anti-war political novice.
Although reports that Mr Bush was woken at his ranch in Texas yesterday morning by a call from Tony Blair were denied by the White House, the two leaders had been in regular touch — as recently as Sunday — about British police efforts to track and capture those behind the aircraft plot.
and Blair’s got troubles too:
One ministerial source said the party was “haemorrhaging” middle-class support over the issue, adding: “It doesn’t matter if you are a Blair supporter or not, we can’t afford that right now.”
and looks like Lieberman is talking to Rove again:
Senator Joseph I. Lieberman seized on the terror arrests in Britain today to attack his Democratic rival, Ned Lamont, saying that Mr. Lamont’s goals for ending the war in Iraq would constitute a “victory” for extremists, including those accused of plotting to blow up airliners traveling between Britain and the United States.
A senior White House official said that the British government had not launched its raid until well after Cheney held a highly unusual conference call with reporters to attack the Democrats as weak against terrorism.
Downing Street admitted Tony Blair would not have left the country on Monday for his Caribbean holiday if he had known the police would need to swoop so quickly to disrupt a terrorist plot. He has known about it in general terms for months, and has spoken to President George Bush about it on a number of occasions.