Frist Urges Republican Candidates to Turn Focus Away From Iraq

Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist says if Republican candidates want to succeed on Election Day, they should turn their focus away from the Iraq war.

"The challenge is to get Americans to focus on pocketbook issues, and not on the Iraq and terror issue," Frist said in an interview with the Concord Monitor on Tuesday.

Frist suggested that Republicans remind voters of subjects like tax cuts and lower gas prices, the result, he said, of the energy bill passed by Congress last year.

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"These are all things the media has not covered," Frist said. "People don't say, 'This Congress passed tax cuts.' But that means something to every American."

Frist, a possible candidate for the presidency in 2008, visited New Hampshire on Tuesday to help local Republicans running for office and to accompany his wife, Karyn, on a promotional tour for her new book.

Frist, who is retiring from the Senate when his term expires at the end of this year, said he has been campaigning for candidates in his native Tennessee, Missouri, Iowa and New Hampshire. He said those trips have shown him a "worried, discontented and confused" electorate, with voters fed up with the politics of Washington.

Frist suggested two issues that Republicans should use to highlight their differences with Democrats: homeland security and taxes. He criticized Democratic opposition to renewing the Patriot Act as "not equipping the government and military with the best tools to defeat terrorists." He also said proposals by Democrats to repeal tax cuts for the wealthiest Americans would be a drain on all taxpayers.