Vice President Dick Cheney said Monday that Democratic leaders aren't doing enough to fight terrorism and said Americans must "reject any strategy of resignation and defeatism in the face of determined enemies."
Cheney, speaking at a party fundraiser, said Republicans must keep national security on the minds of voters heading into the November midterm election.
Cheney used his 20-minute address to defend the Bush administration's war on terrorism and point fingers at Democrats.
"We have to stay on the offensive until the danger to civilization is removed," Cheney told about 110 people at the Pfister Hotel in downtown Milwaukee.
Cheney attacked Democrats for turning their backs on Sen. Joe Lieberman, D-Conn., after his loss in the primary to anti-war candidate Ned Lamont.
He took Democratic Party chairman Howard Dean to task for saying the capture of Saddam Hussein has not made America safer and accused Dean and Rep. John Murtha, D-Pa., of advocating what Cheney called a failed policy of retreat in the war against terrorism.
The vice president chided Senate Democratic Leader Harry Reid of Nevada for opposing the Patriot Act and suggesting the U.S. should not have invaded Iraq, even if it meant leaving Saddam in power.
Reid responded Monday by saying the White House has lost all credibility on matters of national security.
"With Iraq in a civil war, Afghanistan moving backward and our own borders unsecured, it's clear George Bush and Dick Cheney are desperate to hide their record and distort the truth," Reid said.
Sen. Edward M. Kennedy, D-Mass., said Cheney's comments were proof that the administration's Iraq strategy isn't working.
"Instead of changing course, we just get more of the same tired rhetoric that does nothing to make us safe or fix the mess the vice president has helped create," Kennedy said.
The Democratic National Committee accused Cheney of being on a "smear and fear" tour.
Cheney and President Bush were on the road campaigning for candidates in four different states Monday. After the Milwaukee stop, Cheney headed to Michigan to attend a dinner reception for Michael Bouchard, a Republican Senate candidate. Bush was in Connecticut and Ohio.
The Milwaukee fundraiser was for get-out-the-vote efforts and not to benefit a specific candidate, the state party said.