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Hill Dems Launch Major Assault On McCain Policies

Democrats on Capitol Hill have launched a major assault Thursday on John McCain's policies, targeting two areas where he is thought to be the strongest: taxes and foreign policy.

In one event, six Jewish members of Congress gathered to hammer McCain for a 2005 vote against a proposal that would have prohibited foreign subsidiaries of U.S. companies from doing business with Iran. The message at this event, headlined by Sen. Frank Lautenberg (D-N.J.), was clear: Obama is strong on Iran and a friend of Israel.

"Sen. Barack Obama stood up for Israel's security and voted to shut down the loophole," said Lautenberg, who was joined by other prominent Jewish lawmakers like Sen. Ben Cardin (D-Md.), Rep. Sander Levin (D-Mich.) and Rep. Steve Rothman (D-N.J.). "John McCain voted to keep it open."

Never mind that the Iran sanctions vote was three years ago. Organizers of the event say that Obama's campaign is at a critical point in his attempts to woo Jewish voters, especially in Florida, skeptical of his stance on Israel. And Democratic lawmakers say they plan to continue criticizing McCain on foreign policy, even though it is one area where polls show him stronger than Obama.

On the other side of the Capitol complex at virtually the same moment as the Iran event, Sens. Richard Durbin (D-Ill.), Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.) and Bob Casey (D-Penn.) were blasting McCain's tax policies, saying his tax cut proposals would give $45 billion in breaks to Fortune 500 corporations while adding trillions to the national debt. McCain has proposed $175 billion in tax cuts, which would double the tax cuts engineered by the Bush administration.

Senate aides involved with these events were careful to say that they were not coordinated because Senate offices cannot directly plan campaign events _ they must be organized by a campaign or a third party. In this case, each event was organized by a liberal group. The Iran foreign policy event was sponsored by the National Jewish Defense Council and the tax policy press conference was put together by the Center for American Progress.

But even if it lacked direct coordination, the Democratic effort shows that Obama's surrogates on the Hill are open for business when it comes to political attacks on John McCain. By contrast, Republicans on the Hill are nowhere near as organized in their efforts to coordinate attacks on Obama yet.

"What our country needs is tax relief for the middle-class, not billions of dollars in tax cuts for the wealthy,” Klobuchar said at the tax policy event. "“Families are being squeezed on all sides – by record gasoline prices, rising food costs, and soaring health insurance premiums. In the last eight years the average family has lost $5,500 per year to higher prices and lower incomes, and they are ready for a new direction.’’ 

The Crypt will update with responses from the McCain campaign.

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