Who's More Patriotic?

Michaela Joy Garecht, 2, right, with baby brother, Alex from MySpace. Michaela was kidnapped Nov. 19, 1988 less than 20 miles from where kidnap victim Jaycee Lee Dugard was found in 2009. MySpace Photo

For Georgia's War Hero, Democratic Senator Max Cleland, it's the fight of his political life, reports Chief Washington Correspondent Bob Schieffer.

Because President Bush is still the most popular politician in Georgia - and with control of the Senate at stake - he and Vice President Cheney have flown in repeatedly to campaign for Cleland's Republican challenger, congressman Saxby Chambliss.

Chambliss has tried to make this a race about patriotism, about who can best help the president fight the war on terrorism but that's not an easy case to make against a man who lost three limbs in Vietnam.

"You can't run against Max Cleland, you run against Max Cleland's record," he told Schieffer. "I mean Max is a nice guy. I never said anything but that his voting record is so out of touch with the way a majority of Georgians think."

Cleland, a highly decorated Vietnam veteran, supports a different version of Homeland Security legislation than the president. He calls the attacks on him repulsive.

"I volunteered to defend my country 35 years ago and served in the war in my generation. The individual who made those attacks on me never served in the American military at all," he said.

Both men have been airing commercials attacking the other.

Chambliss forces put Osama Bin Laden's picture into one ad against Cleland decrying his lack of support for Mr. Bush's version of Homeland Security legislation.

And Cleland's ads have been no gentler than Chambliss'. One said, "The more you hear about Saxby Chambliss, the sicker you get."

But it always comes back to who loves the country more: A veteran who lost his legs and an arm in Vietnam or a non-veteran who votes with the president.

"I don't have to prove my patriotism to anybody," said Cleland.

"Nobody loves America more than Saxby Chambliss," counters Chambliss.

While the race is tight, Cleland is believed to be slightly ahead. But it's so close, the outcome will probably depend on voter turnout. And, it's so close the president will make yet another visit to Georgia this weekend.

  • Bootie Cosgrove-Mather

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