NEW YORK – Democrats accused the Bush administration of offering opportunities to big corporations and special interests at the expense of the middle class and they cited Vice President Dick Cheney (search) as a leading example.
Referring to the vice president several times as "Mr. Halliburton," several speakers said Wednesday the relationship between the energy services company and the U.S. government illustrates much of what is wrong with the administration's approach to big business.
Cheney, a convention speaker on Wednesday night, was head of Houston-based Halliburton (search) before he became George W. Bush's running mate in 2000. More in polls now view Cheney unfavorably than favorably.
New Jersey Sen. Frank Lautenberg (search), New Jersey Rep. Bob Menendez (search) and Elliot Spitzer (search), attorney general in New York, joined Iowa Gov. Tom Vilsack and Democratic Party Chairman Terry McAuliffe (search) in talking about the administration and its close relationship with big corporations.
Lautenberg said he has long served in corporate boardrooms and "I know corporate opportunity when I see it." The senator, referring to the Republicans' convention theme on Wednesday of "opportunity," said Halliburton has gotten billions of dollars from its no-bid, multibillion-dollar contract with the government for work in Iraq, including providing food and other services to troops.
Halliburton spokeswoman Wendy Hall said the company is "focused on the job at hand and not the politics." But she said the current political environment has brought "unprecedented scrutiny to the company and facts have taken a backseat to opinions and agendas" Halliburton has served the troops for more than 60 years under both Democratic and Republican administrations, she said.
Bush campaign spokesman Steve Schmidt predicted American voters "will reject the politics of pessimism and anger."