WASHINGTON - A coalition of anti-Iraq war groups is targeting 40 GOP lawmakers around the country in a grassroots effort modeled on the "Freedom Summer" civil rights campaign and the more recent initiative against privatizing Social Security.
Aiming to use political pressure as an agent to separate Republicans from President Bush on the war, the "Iraq Summer" will target nine senators and 31 members of the House in 15 states.
Americans Against Escalation in Iraq will dispatch almost 100 organizers around the country. It aims to put up 15,000 signs and 15,000 bumper stickers and to have 1,000 "visibility events" per week for 10 weeks. It will also do advertising and direct contact, including phone banks for all 40 targets.
Americans United for Change President Brad Woodhouse said the campaign will focus on GOP war supporters who are "on the verge" and "in the crosshairs." He compared it to the "very similar" effort to fight Bush on the privatization of Social Security in 2005.
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"It's going to be like laying asphalt in August; it's going to be that type of heat," Woodhouse said. "This effort, in 2007, is the anti-privatization effort on steroids."
Tom Matzzie, the Washington director for MoveOn.org, said the targets of the campaign will either "help end the war or face political extinction."
The targets include five senators up in 2008: Pete Domenici (R-N.M.), John Warner (R-Va.), Norm Coleman (R-Minn.), John Sununu (R-N.H.) and Susan Collins (R-Maine).
Although certain groups have been targeting Democrats on the war as well, Matzzie said the effort is focusing on Republicans because it wants to "isolate the president," and moving members of his own party is the best way to do that.
© 2007 Capitol Hill Publishing Corp