GOP plans Boston 'war room'

/ Source: The Associated Press

Vowing to answer “every misstatement” Democratic presidential candidate John Kerry and his allies make at next week’s Democratic National Convention in Boston, Republicans will set up a “war room” nearby and launch a new Web site devoted to debunking Democrats.

“We’re going to set the record straight as Democrats try to sell a story to the American people that’s completely disconnected from the reality,” said Steve Schmidt, a spokesman for President Bush’s re-election campaign.

The rapid response operation is a joint effort by the Bush campaign and the Republican National Committee, and will be in full swing next week as Bush takes a break from campaigning and pulls his TV ads during the convention.

It will include a daily 10 a.m. conference call with reporters hosted by RNC Chairman Ed Gillespie and GOP notables. They include: Colorado Gov. Bill Owens, former New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani, former New York City Police Commissioner Bernard Kerik, Sens. Saxby Chambliss of Georgia, Mitch McConnell of Kentucky and Norm Coleman of Minnesota, Rep. Henry Bonilla of Texas, former Massachusetts Gov. William Weld, Massachusetts Lt. Gov. Kerry Healey, Mayor Pat McCrory of Charlotte, N.C., and Michael Williams, head of the Texas Railroad Commission.

The war room also will coordinate radio and TV interviews with those GOP surrogates, as well as those for beaming via satellite into targeted markets in battleground states. Republicans at the state level also will hold their own conference calls.

Republican officials expect the Democratic ticket — Kerry and running mate John Edwards — to receive a bounce in polls of about 15 percentage points after the convention. Their goal is to try to cut into that likely post-convention advantage by ensuring that media coverage of the Democratic convention includes the GOP’s views.

“We understand we’re swimming upstream here,” said RNC spokesman Jim Dyke, adding that Republicans see an opportunity to contrast what it considers to be the facts with the rhetoric from the convention. “If we make sure they are introduced to the real John Kerry, we think we can limit that bounce.”

Dyke contends Democrats are putting on “a cosmetic convention” to “make over” Kerry and Edwards, who Dyke described as “the first and fourth most liberal senators.” In that vein, the Republican Web site is called