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The Plain Dealer - DeWine Pushes Homeland Security Issue

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DeWine pushes homeland security issue

The Plain Dealer
Mark Naymik

With war hero Arizona Sen. John McCain at his side, U.S. Sen. Mike DeWine framed his battle for re-election Monday as critical to the nation's security.

Citing rival Sherrod Brown's opposition as a congressman to the U.S.A. Patriot Act, passed after Sept. 11 to give the government broad powers to investigate suspected terrorists, DeWine complained that the Democrat lacks the commitment to defend the country.
"If he had his way, this country would have been denied this very essential tool" in fighting terrorism, he said, speaking with reporters after a small rally at Cuyahoga Community College's Parma campus.

DeWine is in the middle of a three-day campaign tour with McCain, a likely 2008 Republican presidential candidate. The two are trying to focus the race on Brown's voting on military-related issues.

DeWine repeatedly painted Brown as a Democrat in the "distinct minority" because of his opposition to the Patriot Act. And he blasted Brown for voting to cut military and intelligence operations.

"Sherrod Brown voted 10 different times to cut our intelligence budget, so there is a fundamental difference between the two of us in regard to how we approach intelligence," he said. "It's been no accident that since Sept. 11 we've not been hit on the homeland, but that doesn't mean we won't get hit tomorrow or today..."

Just as President Bush focused relentlessly on the war on terror instead of domestic issues during his re-election campaign, DeWine and other Republicans facing re-election this year are focusing on security.

McCain, who signed autographs and posed for pictures with spectators during his visit to Parma, did not criticize Brown directly. He praised DeWine's work as a member of the Senate Intelligence Committee and for his successful effort to expand health-care benefits for veterans and their family members.

Brown, who wrapped up a three-day campaign bus tour Sunday, frequently attacks DeWine for what he says is his indifference as a member of the Senate Intelligence Committee.

"For his 12 years in the Senate, he has slept through intelligence briefings and intelligence committee hearings," he said Saturday during an interview on his campaign bus.

Brown, who campaigned two weeks ago with Max Cleland, a Vietnam War veteran and former U.S. senator from Georgia, says he "takes a back seat to no one" on protecting the homeland, pointing to his calls for more money for port security and body armor for American troops.
"I'm willing to have this debate with DeWine on damn near any issue," he said.

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