Re-electing President Bush (search) will mean a loss of freedoms and "create an America we won't recognize," Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton (search) is telling potential Democratic donors. In an e-mail appeal distributed by the Democratic National Committee to help Sen. John Kerry's (search) presidential campaign, the former first lady said "the stakes in this election are incredibly high."

"If they get their way, you and I will be living in an America governed not by our hopes, but by our fears," Clinton wrote. "We'll be living in an America where we see our freedoms diminished when they ought to be embraced, our rights restricted when they ought to be strengthened."

"We'll be living in an America that shrinks away from the political and economic challenges of the 21st Century," she added.

Heather Layman, a spokeswoman for the Republican National Committee, said Clinton's criticism appeared to be directed at the Patriot Act (search) that gave law enforcement officials new powers in the wake of the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks.

"Hillary Clinton seems to have the same problem John Kerry has when it comes to being on both sides of this issue," Laymen said. "After voting in favor of the Patriot Act, both Hillary Clinton and John Kerry now attack this common-sense law. The Patriot Act allows law enforcement to use the same tools they use to fight crime to stop terrorists."

"President Bush has shown strong leadership in the war on terror," Layman added. "If John Kerry had his way, terrorism would still be treated as a law enforcement matter, and Saddam Hussein would not only still be in power, he would still be in Kuwait."

Clinton's fund-raising appeal, which went out last week, comes at a time when Democrats are scrambling to offset Bush's multimillion-dollar, pre-general election campaign financial advantage.

On Friday, it came out that Kerry was considering delaying accepting the party's nomination until sometime after the Democratic National Convention at the end of July. That would allow him to put off the date when he would begin relying solely on $75 million in public funding for his campaign. Bush is also expected to accept such public funding, but doesn't officially become the GOP nominee until the Republican National Convention concludes in early September. Without delaying accepting the nomination, Kerry could have to make the $75 million last a month longer than Bush does.

Sen. Clinton, considered a potential 2008 White House candidate should Bush win re-election, said things are looking good for Kerry and the Democrats.

"A year ago everyone had written Democrats off," Clinton wrote in her letter. "The media had taken for granted the re-election of George Bush. Isn't it fun to prove them wrong?"

"The Bush-Cheney campaign has blown $70 million on negative ads, but it is still tied in the polls with John Kerry," Clinton added.