Excerpts from a Monitor breakfast with Terry McAuliffe, chairman of the Democratic National Committee.
"I don't think a lot of (Republican) candidates are using Iraq. We have seen some indication that some will begin to use it. This is all part of [White House adviser] Karl Rove's strategy. If you go back to January of this year, he said Republicans should run on the war on terror.... This is not surprising to us.
"Iraq is not a partisan issue, it is a bipartisan issue... Democrats are working hand-in-hand with the president on a resolution on Iraq.
"Listen, if I am a Republican and I am a strategist at the White House running campaigns, would I rather have people talking about Iraq and the war on terrorism than talking about the kitchen table issues? Sure, I would. What are the Republicans going to possibly talk about but the war on terrorism? That 2 million people have lost their jobs since George Bush became president, that he spent the entire Social Security trust fund, that we don't have a prescription drug bill?"
"I can tell you people at home are worried to death about the economy. I travel. I have just been to my 47th state. I am on the road 6 days a week. I am out in touch with everybody. I can tell you when I leave Washington they are not asking me about Iraq. They are asking me where have the jobs gone and what has happened to my 401 (k) and where is my prescription drug benefit that George Bush promised me and what happened to the Social Security trust fund?"
"I think we are going to sweep the country this year in governorships. We need to have five and we will have a majority of the governorships in this country. Today we have double-digit leads in states of Michigan, Illinois, Pennsylvania, Maine, Arizona, New Mexico, Wisconsin, and ... Kansas.
"What I worry about as soon as these elections are over is getting the White House back. We begin the presidential campaign on Nov. 6, and to have governors in these statehouses, in these large electoral states, is critical."
On the effort to defeat Florida Governor Jeb Bush:
" (A state party poll) now has it 48-43 (Jeb Bush over Bill McBride)....That is a 5 point race and 23 percent of the state has no idea who Bill McBride is. So for this to be a 5-point race, Bill McBride only has one place to go: that is up.... I am going to predict that Bill McBride is going to be our governor of Florida.
"First of all, I am just going to hold Jeb Bush to his standard. He said after the debacle of 2000 when Al Gore got robbed of the presidency and we don't have to relive 2000, you have all heard me extensively on that he said 'I am going to make Florida a model for the nation at voting.' A model for the nation. And once again he has made it a laughingstock of the nation.
"He is the governor of the state; he is the chief executive of the state. He is the governor of all 67 counties. He is not the governor of Republican counties. He is the governor of all counties, and he needed to make sure not only that there was adequate funding but (that) ... we had adequate training procedures through the state.
"We will deploy thousands of people now on November 5 to make sure that when people go to vote in the polls in Florida on Election Day they can get in, that it will be a good process for them, and shocking as it may sound that their vote will be counted.
"Winning this governor's race in Florida (is our top priority). We will commit whatever resources it takes. I will put in any time to raise money around the country. I think we will have a great ability to get people around the country (to help out) because of what happened in 2000. People are still angry."
"The president himself, who has become the greatest fundraiser in the history of mankind and listen I don't bemoan the president for being out there 2-3 days a week, while we are at war, raising money I don't. He has every right to do that as head of his party. But when he goes around and says we need x, y, or z senator or House member to fight the war on terrorism, that is very divisive. And does anyone possibly think that [South Carolina Republican Senatorial candidate] Lindsey Graham is going to help us root out the terrorists out of Tora Bora? It is a joke."
"Campaign finance reform will have a tremendous impact on how we run our campaigns. We the DNC for 2004 will lose $100 million. We had $100 million in soft money in the 2000 presidential election. It is my job to make sure that we replace that $100 million of soft money with $100 million in hard money. That is something that I focus on every single day."
On the cost of the 2002 election:
"Obviously an inordinate amount of money with 36 governor races, 34 Senate seats, the whole House. You are going to see more money spent this year probably than the history of American politics. Everybody is spending money."