updated 8/28/2004 4:38:25 PM ET 2004-08-28T20:38:25

A Democratic “rapid response team” is in New York, eager to remind Americans of the many domestic problems President Bush and his administration have not solved, Iowa Gov. Tom Vilsack says.

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Vilsack is helping Democratic national Chairman Terry McAuliffe run the effort to get the Democratic message out during the Republican National Convention that begins Monday at Madison Square Garden. Democrats hope the Iowa governor can provide the perspective of voters in the heartland.

“There’s been a net job loss, there are more uninsured Americans, gas prices are going up, there’s a huge budget deficit,” Vilsack said in a phone interview Saturday. “I’m suggesting folks ought to take a close look at what this president says. They need to be reminded of these things.”

President Bush is expected to talk about his plans for another term when he addresses the GOP convention Thursday night, including a proposal to partially privatize Social Security and his continuing efforts in the campaign against terrorism.

“I suspect the president will trot out worn-out ideas like privatizing Social Security,” Vilsack said, suggesting that would get a cool reception “just like his prescription drug plan and his ’leave no child behind’ plan.”

“Some of his comments strain credibility,” Vilsack said. “It’s difficult to make the case that this is the best economy in 20 years, with incomes going down, health care dropping and millions looking for jobs.”

Bush campaign spokesman Steve Schmidt responded, “There’s no Democratic plan to win the war on terror and no Democratic plan to grow the economy and create jobs, so they resort to baseless attacks.”

Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton, D-N.Y., will contribute to the Democrats’ rapid response by talking about the GOP convention during several Sunday morning talk shows, but she won’t be appearing at any of the daily briefings at the Democratic war room located five blocks south of Madison Square Garden.

President Clinton plans to talk Sunday at Riverside Church in Harlem, but that will not be part of the Democratic rapid response effort.

On Monday, Democrats plan to emphasize that the “mission has not been accomplished” on national security, and their speakers at the war room south of the GOP convention will include Gen. Merrill McPeak, a former Air Force chief of staff who supports Bush’s Democratic challenger, Sen. John Kerry.

The Democrats’ slogan “Mission Not Accomplished” is a reference to Bush’s flight in May 2003 to the aircraft carrier USS Abraham Lincoln, where he addressed U.S. troops standing beneath a banner that read “Mission Accomplished” and declared an end to major combat in Iraq.

The banner has been criticized as the fighting in Iraq continues and the U.S. death toll approaches 1,000.

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