"Dedicated to exposing the lies and impeachable offenses of George W. Bush"


Republicans blast Emanuel for coffin pictures
Chicago Tribune
By Jill Zuckman
Washington bureau
Published July 13, 2006, 6:51 PM CD

WASHINGTON -- More than a dozen Republicans angrily denounced Rep. Rahm Emanuel (D-Ill.) Thursday for his decision to air video of flag-draped coffins of American troops as part of a fundraising appeal for Democratic House candidates.

"For the Democrats, everything is about politics," said Rep. Tom Reynolds (R-N.Y.), chairman of the National Republican Congressional Committee. "But this crosses the line."

 The ad, which is available on the Internet Web site for the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee (www.dccc.org), displays a montage of grim images. They include pictures of the war in Iraq, high gas prices, the coffins and a fake mug shot of former House Majority Leader Tom DeLay of Texas.

"Washington Republicans have sold Americans out," the ad says. "American families are paying the price."

Emanuel, who is chairman of the Democratic committee, has frequently stood in the well of the House reading aloud the names of soldiers who have died in Iraq, an act that has angered and embarrassed Republicans.

"It takes a galling level of smug self-righteousness for Rahm Emanuel to invoke our honored dead one day and put their coffins in an ad the next," fumed Reynolds.

An array of House Republicans, many facing competitive races this year, demanded that Emanuel remove the ad and apologize to the families of those serving in the military.

Republicans were using the video to try to ratchet up criticism of Democrats in targeted congressional races nationwide, including Illinois.

Veterans Affairs Committee Chairman Steve Buyer (R-Ind.) complained that Democrats were cheapening the service and sacrifice of military members for political gain.

"To Rahm Emanuel, to remove the shame you made by your mistake, the first thing you do is stop the rhetoric, shut your mouth, you clean up the mistake and then you apologize to the military families in this country," Buyer said.

Attempts to reach Emanuel for comment were not successful.

Democratic leaders stuck up for Emanuel, noting that President Bush used graphic images of the Sept. 11 attacks in his television ads for re-election during the 2004 campaign. One of those ads showed a firefighter carrying a flag-draped body out of the rubble of the World Trade Center.

"It was despicable when the Republicans used the photos of 9/11 for political purposes. Was that despicable?" House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) said Thursday. "I think it is despicable that young people's lives are being lost. ... Republicans are in denial about that. Yet they talk about politicizing war."

In the Senate, Democratic leaders said Republicans were complaining about the ad because they have nothing else to talk about.

"Republicans are looking for an excuse to divert attention from the main issue that they don't have a plan in Iraq," said Sen. Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.), chairman of the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee. "They're not doing a good job in Iraq and the American people overwhelmingly agree with us."

Senate Democratic Leader Harry Reid of Nevada called the coffins "a fact of life."

Of the Republican complaints, he said, "It's totally a diversionary tactic. Totally."

But at least one Democrat asked Emanuel to remove the offending images. Rep. John Spratt Jr. (D-S.C.) sent Emanuel a letter noting that he would not have shown photos of the flag-draped caskets or of a soldier standing at the grave of a fallen comrade.

"I strongly recommend that you pull this ad and delete both of these clips before running it again," Spratt said.

Meanwhile, Rep. Mark Kirk (R-Ill.) tempered his criticism of Emanuel and resisted the heated denunciations employed by his colleagues.

Noting that "I work with Rahm a lot," Kirk said he believed the ad must have been put together by a staff member and somehow got past the chairman.

"I know he's running a big organization," Kirk said. "Some media consultants crossed the boundary there."

Still, Kirk called the ad "distasteful" and "inappropriate."


Copyright © 2006, Chicago Tribune

Original Text