MoveOn's Pariser: Bush 'rallies support' for whoever he's attacking
Anti-war group MoveOn.org has a message for President Bush: 'Bring it on.'
Responding to President Bush, who called the ad "disgusting" in a press conference earlier in the day, MoveOn Executive Director Eli Pariser says the president's comments did little to tarnish MoveOn's image or undermine its mission.
"This is one of the most unpopular presidents in recent history," Pariser said on a conference call Thursday night. "I think it rallies more people to the person he is attacking than it does to him."
Pariser spoke with supporters Thursday evening in a nationwide conference call focusing on the political fallout following the group's controversial ad criticizing top Iraq General David Petraeus. RAW STORY was on the call.
The president had earlier accused Democrats of cowtowing to the group, saying he was "disappointed that not more leaders in the Democrat party spoke out strongly against that kind of ad."
"And that leads me to come to this kind of conclusion: That most Democrats are afraid of irritating a left-wing group like MoveOn.org," the president continued.
But 22 Democrats did join Republicans in a 72-25 vote to condemn the ad in a Senate resolution sponsored by Sen. John Cornyn (R-TX). Notably, none of the Democratic contenders for president supported the measure.
Asked about significance of the vote, Pariser was dismissive.
"The meaning of the vote? Really, it doesn't mean much," he said. "The Senate passes resolutions all the time...it happens all the time and so this is really just words. It's a resolution and it'll fade with time."
Asked by one supporter if the he felt the ad had created an unneeded distraction from the group's ultimate cause -- securing the withdrawal of US troops -- Pariser sympathized.
"I understand that there are some members who felt like this was the wrong target," he said. He disagreed, however, that the ad was a distraction.
"A distraction from what?" Pariser asked. "The president and Gen. Petraeus had a carefully choreographed plan for last week. It involved two days of testimony and a number of press conferences."
"Whatever you think about the ad," he continued, "it certainly threw a monkey wrench in" the plan.
Pariser urged MoveOn members to keep the pressure on their elected representatives.
"We're going to keep pushing until the war ends and we're headed in a better direction," he said. "Every time we talk to folks in Congress, they feel intense pressure, a lot of them, to do something about it," he said, but added that "they don't feel as powerful as we know that they are."