WASHINGTON – Nearly a thousand Republican college students on Friday attended a convention in Washington, where keynote speaker, House Majority Leader Tom DeLay (search), minced no words in a sizzling attack on the Democratic Party.
"The national Democrat Party seems to have lost its marbles," DeLay, R-Texas, said as he announced that Republicans are no more on the defensive, but are launching a counter-attack against Democratic criticism of the war in Iraq.
DeLay said the criticism was born of pure partisan hate, void of logic or reason.
"Their single organizing philosophy is an irrational, all-encompassing broiling hatred of George W. Bush," DeLay said. "Most of all, Democrats hate the president because on every political issue of significance since he came to office, he has beaten them like rented mules."
DeLay accused Democratic leaders of going soft on the war on terror (search) in order to court far left liberal voters who care more about beating Bush than protecting the nation in a post-Sept. 11, 2001, world.
"The extreme, Bush-hating wing of the Democrat Party has decided to either ignore or reject the fundamental realities of 21st century life, and rather than distance themselves from the hate, the party's leaders have embraced it," he said.
Republicans, however, do have reason to worry about that "hate" taking its toll on American voters. In the past weeks Bush has slipped in polls, and the White House has been on the defensive over bad intelligence data that was included in his State of the Union (search) address last January.
The GOP strategy now is to diminish the impact of the Democratic attacks by painting them as loony leftists.
And while they express outrage at Democratic, anti-war, Bush-bashing, Republicans are privately gleeful at the prospect of a Democratic Party lurching left or "lapsing," as DeLay says, into swinging 1970s liberalism (search). He cast several Democratic presidential candidates as liberal extremists out of step with mainstream America.
"Bob Graham, a respected former governor and chairman of the Intelligence committee, is calling for the president's impeachment ... John Edwards, a so-called moderate, compares the president to a dangerous socialist," DeLay said.
While the accusations are exaggerations of the candidates' statements, DeLay did correctly describe one hopeful's legislation.
"Dennis Kucinich, a long-time member of Congress, now calls for legislation -- I love this -- to ban 'mind control' weapons in outer space," DeLay said. "It makes you wonder if at their next presidential debate, the Democrats are all going to show up wearing aluminum foil helmets to protect their brain waves from the mother ship."
DeLay said the Democratic Party is not unpatriotic, just misguided and unfit to lead.
With his message, however, the majority leader did offer a warning to fellow Republicans not to take the opposition for granted, calling the Democratic Party a "mammoth institution with a strong and proud heritage" whose "rank and file voters are smart and honest people, and they want to elect their candidates every bit as much as Republicans do."
Fox News' Carl Cameron contributed to this report.