Democrats rolled out a "Bush truth squad" Tuesday to state the facts as they see them and challenge the president's assertions at every turn of the campaign.
Nearly 20 members of Congress, a retired general supporting John Kerry (search) and other partisans joined in a pledge to "tell the whole truth" when President Bush doesn't. The facts they brought forward at their launch, however, were selective.
"For George Bush, the truth hurts," said Rep. Dick Gephardt (search) of Missouri, the former presidential candidate and a member of the squad. He accused the president of demeaning Kerry's record in Congress and misrepresenting the reality on jobs, health care, the deficit and more.
Each party routinely dogs the other's candidate with "opposition research" quietly fed to the news media that offers practically point-by-point rebuttal to the claims of the day. In forming its squad, the Democratic National Committee (search) was putting prominent faces behind the effort.
The Democrats said they will challenge Bush wherever he goes, whether they appear in the same city or say something from afar. A contingent plans to set up shop in New York for the GOP convention at the end of this month, just as Republicans got in their digs from Boston during last week's Democratic convention.
Bush "says one thing and does another," Texas Rep. Ciro Rodriguez, chairman of the Congressional Hispanic Caucus, said at the squad's introduction. "He's not been a person of his word."
Retired Gen. Merrill A. McPeak, a Kerry supporter and squad member who was Air Force chief of staff during the first Persian Gulf War, said he wants to hold Bush accountable for his record in the Iraq and terrorism wars, including the president's "premature claims of mission accomplished" in Iraq.
"Truth is on our side," Texas Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee asserted repeatedly.
But some of the facts presented Tuesday were highly one-sided.
The squad's case against Bush included a "Tale of Two Lives" video juxtaposing flattering statements and pictures of Kerry's past with a Bush history sprinkled with phrases such as, "Avoids Vietnam," "Absent from Duty," "Is Investigated for Insider Trading."
The video tells viewers that Bush lost a race for Congress while ignoring that Kerry did, too.
Asked how that conveys "the whole truth," DNC spokesman Jano Cabrera said, "the whole truth is in the backup," meaning supporting papers that viewers don't see. The background papers acknowledge Kerry narrowly lost a 1972 race for Congress.
Maryland Rep. Elijah Cummings, chairman of the Congressional Black Caucus, issued an indictment of Bush's economic record at the squad's news conference but didn't have all his numbers right.
He blamed Bush for losing 3 million jobs. Although jobs in the manufacturing sector are down by about 2.7 million since Bush took office, employment overall has fallen by 1.1 million in Bush's time.
Jim Dyke, a spokesman for the Republican National Committee, dismissed the Democratic effort, arguing that Kerry has been inconsistent on Iraq and intelligence issues and the squad's "mission has everything to do with politics and nothing to do with the truth."