NEW YORK – Hoping to boost his uphill Senate candidacy, Rep. George Nethercutt (search) on Monday told Republican delegates that under President Bush's leadership, the United States is winning the war on terrorism.
"And we have fought terrorists on their own soil and not in this city, my city or your city," Nethercutt said in a brief speech at the Republican National Convention (search). "I have been proud to stand with President Bush to fighfostered economic growth, reformed health care and defended the nation by creating the new Department of Homeland Security (search).
Nethercutt was one of seven GOP Senate hopefuls to address the full convention, which opened Monday at Madison Square Garden. Nethercutt's speech, like that of other candidates, lasted about two minutes.
Republicans portrayed the speech as a sign of the party's confidence in Nethercutt, and noted that Murray did not address the Democratic gathering in Boston.
"The (GOP) convention is another opportunity for George Nethercutt to show that he is a top-tier candidate for Senate," said Dan Allen, a spokesman for the National Republican Senatorial Committee.
Nethercutt will get another boost Tuesday, when he is one of several Senate challengers highlighted at a news conference sponsored by the GOP campaign committee, Allen said.
Washington state Democrats said Nethercutt was confusing a nod from party leaders with momentum.
"Is tying himself to the ultraconservative leaders of his party any way to win over voters?" asked state Democratic spokeswoman Kirstin Brost.
Alex Glass, a spokeswoman for Murray, said Murray was invited to speak in Boston but declined, preferring to spend her time in Washington state with constituents.
Murray attended only about half of the Democratic convention, Glass said, and was on stage during a party salute to its female senators. Murray also delivered videotaped remarks about education, Glass said.
The skirmish over convention speaking roles marks the latest clash in an increasingly nasty Senate campaign, which does not officially kick off until after a Sept. 14 primary. Nethercutt is expected to easily win the GOP nomination.
Republicans have been touting Nethercutt, a lawker from Spokane, as a "giant killer." They are hoping for a repeat of his 1994 upset victory over then-House Speaker Tom Foley, D-Wash.
Top Republicans, including President Bush, have visited Washington state to campaign for Nethercutt and help him raise money. Last week, Sen. George Allen, R-Va., chairman of the Republican Senate campaign committee, and former New York City Mayor Rudolph Giuliani campaigned in Washington state on Nethercutt's behalf.
Vice President Dick Cheney, Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist, R-Tenn., Sen. Elizabeth Dole, R-N.C., and several Cabinet officers have stumped for Nethercutt in recent months.
Despite the high-profile help, Nethercutt trails Murray. A Republican poll released last week gave Murray a lead of 8 percentage points, and Murray enjoys a 2-to-1 edge in fund-raising -- with about $6 million cash on hand to $3 million for Nethercutt.
Other polls have shown Murray with a more substantial lead.