Democrats Hone in on Election Message

Democrats visited with seniors at a retirement center to hone their campaign message Friday, briefly leaving behind the Las Vegas casino strip where they are holding their final fall convention to gear up for election day.

The message --  senior-oriented issues like the economy and health care, and the Democrat  claim that the GOP does not care about regular folks.

"They sure don't care about average Americans, and they sure don't care about people here in Nevada," said Rep. Shelley Berkly, D-Nev.

And President George W. Bush, they say, cares the least. "He wasn't thinking about your pensions. All this is all rolled into one. It's irresponsibility and unaccountability to people like us," said Rep. Mike Honda, D-Calif.

In the Democrat view, the GOP plan for prescription drug benefits, Social Security reform and other elderly issues is no plan at all, even though some Democrats have expressed support for the Bush plan on all these issues.

"There are two far different visions here. One provides for retirement and health care security. The other just deals with special interests, and they are nurtured at the cost of the average citizen," said Rep. Bob Menendez, D-N.J.

Democrats are also ridiculing Bush's plan for an economic forum in Waco next week, saying it illustrates just how captive Bush and the GOP are to special interests.

"Well, we're very disappointed in the president.  It's an embarrassment what is going on down in Waco. As you know, non-members of Congress were invited. No Democrats were invited. Then, we find out today that he has invited fundraisers," McAuliffe said. "What he's doing down in Waco is a total waste of time. He ought to just cancel."

Bush aides counter that forum participants represent all facets and views of the U.S. economy. 

Democrats claim they always to listen to the voices of everyday Americans and not only the elite, but they were quick to tout Wonder Woman, actress Linda Carter's support at their convention.

In the Democratic party's latest national poll, 65 percent say they now feel the top national issues are the economy and domestic concerns. Only 13 percent say homeland security and national defense are top, and only 8 percent listed tax cuts.

The poll indicates how voters now rank issues in order of importance: health care costs, prescription drug costs, patients rights isues, crooked CEO's, accounting fraud, education, federal waste and taxes, Social Security reform and then terrorism.

Democrats want desperately to avoid Bush's success with the war on terror in the election and focus on the economy. Their poll says only 42 percent now think the president is doing a good or excellent job to 56 percent who say his economic performance is only fair to poor.