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Democrats focus on war costs to defeat McCain

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WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Democratic grass roots organizations on Monday launched a $20 million campaign to defeat Republican John McCain in the 2008 U.S. presidential election by focusing their attention on rising costs of the Iraq war.

The campaign, supported by former Democratic presidential candidate John Edwards, aims to link war spending with the ailing U.S. economy.

“There’s a great concern and anxiety, angst out there among most Americans about their economic security,” Edwards said in a teleconference from North Carolina. “All these things are made much worse by concern about what’s happening in Iraq ... People don’t understand why we’re spending $500 billion and counting in Iraq.”

Edwards added, “The American people are going to have a very clear choice this fall -- a Democrat who will bring this thing to an end ... and Senator John McCain who will continue the war.”

Jon Soltz, co-founder of anti-war veterans group, said although the group appreciates the former Vietnam prisoner of war’s service, it would work hard to make sure McCain was not elected in the November election.

“When it comes to his policies on Iraq, he is no different than (President) George Bush,” Soltz said. “From now until the election, we are going to continue to hold him accountable.”

The groups plan to spend at least $20 million on advertisements and grass-roots efforts to work to defeat McCain and some key lawmakers who support the war and are up for reelection.

Groups taking part in the new campaign are the Center for American Progress, USAction,,, Service Employees International Union and Americans United for Change.

Reporting by Deborah Charles, editing by Vicki Allen