(CNSNews.com) - President Bush has politicized the debate over war with Iraq and should apologize, Senate Majority Leader Tom Daschle charged Wednesday in a fiery speech on the Senate floor.
``The president ought to apologize ... He ought to apologize to the American people ... That is wrong. We ought not politicize this war. We ought not politicize the rhetoric about war and life and death," Daschle hissed in a stage whisper. ``You tell those who fought in Vietnam and World War II they are not interested in the security of the American people'' because they are Democrats, he declared. ``That is outrageous! Outrageous!''
Daschle (D-S.D.), had his facts wrong because the president's comments to which he referred were about the creation of a Homeland Security Department, not about war with Iraq.
The senator's remarks came in response to comments Bush made yesterday in New Jersey just before a fund-raiser for Republican Senate candidate Doug Forrester.
``The House responded, but the Senate is more interested in special interests in Washington and not interested in the security of the American people," Bush said. "I will not accept a Department of Homeland Security that does not allow this president and future presidents to better keep the American people secure.''
Daschle found some support for his red-hot rhetoric from Sen. Daniel Inouye (D-Hawaii), who lost an arm in World War II. ``It grieves me when my president makes statements that would divide this nation,'' Inouye said on the Senate floor.
But Senate Minority Leader Trent Lott (R-Miss.) responded by saying Daschle should "calm down his rhetoric." Lott said the Senate has "a lot to do" to reach agreement on a Homeland Security bill and a resolution regarding war with Iraq, amongst other work, and "we don't need this."
As Daschle spoke, the Senate continued work on the terms of a resolution to give the president the right to use force to destroy Saddam's weapons of mass destruction. Both the Democrat and Republican Senate leadership have indicated they support such a resolution.
Just before launching the Gulf War in 1991, most Democrats voted against a similar resolution giving the president's father the right to use force to remove Iraq from Kuwait. But the Democrat leadership promises there will be a far greater degree of support for this resolution than there was for the Gulf War.
The problem is that talk of war with Iraq is robbing Democrats of their pet domestic policy issues just prior to national elections. According to top political strategists quoted by national broadcasting networks and major newspapers, Americans are more concerned about the possibility of war than with any other issue, foreign or domestic, and that fact has many Democrats running scared, unable to hit Republicans on education, social security and other typically Democrat issues.
While Daschle was blasting him, reporters in the Oval Office were interviewing Bush. Bush said he intends to fight both Saddam and al Qaeda because ``they're both equally as bad, and equally as evil, and equally as destructive.''
``... The danger is, is that they work in concert," the president said. "The danger is, is that al Qaeda becomes an extension of Saddam's madness and his hatred and his capacity to extend weapons of mass destruction around the world. Both of them need to be dealt with. You can't distinguish between al-Qaeda and Saddam when you talk about the war on terror.''