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Inside Politics

GOP says Kerry getting 'extreme makeover'

Cheney campaigns in West

Cheney campaigned Monday for gubernatorial candidate Dino Rossi in Washington state.
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The Democrats are in Boston in a big way of course, but GOP political operatives are there too, watching their every move. CNN's Dana Bash explains (July 26)
John F. Kerry
George W. Bush
Ed Gillespie

(CNN) -- While President Bush lay low at his ranch in Crawford, Texas, many of his fellow Republicans remained on the campaign trail Monday as the Democrats held their nominating convention.

Vice President Dick Cheney led the charge, beginning a three-day swing through several Western states.

In Boston, GOP leaders set up a "war room" to combat the themes and theater inside the nearby FleetCenter, where Sen. John Kerry is expected to formally receive his party's presidential nod later this week.

The Bush-Cheney campaign halted radio and television advertising Friday, and will not resume running commercials until the Democratic convention ends Thursday night. At that time, the president will embark on a two-day, four-state bus tour.

Yet Cheney has not taken a break from the campaign, getting out the administration's message while helping several congressional candidates.

"Other than the president, there's no better advocate for the Bush-Cheney record of accomplishment than the vice president," said Bush-Cheney campaign spokesman Scott Stanzel.

"It's important for the president and vice president to continue to build support for candidates who share their vision."

Cheney in Pacific Northwest

Cheney began his day by stumping for gubernatorial candidate Dino Rossi in southeastern Washington, a state Bush lost by five percentage points four years ago. He called the November election "one of the most remarkable and important elections in my lifetime."

The vice president accused the Democratic ticket of Sens. Kerry and John Edwards of helping block several of Bush's judicial nominees.

He singled out former Interior Department official Bill Myers. Senate Democrats prevented the chamber's members from voting last week on Myers' appointment to the San Francisco, California-based 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals -- the court that "decided we should not be able to say 'under God' when we pledge allegiance to the flag."

"Looks to me like the 9th Circuit could use some new judges," Cheney said.

In June 2002, a three-member panel of the court banned teachers from leading the pledge in classrooms in the nine Western states under its jurisdiction. Last month, the Supreme Court reversed the ruling on procedural grounds.

After his stop in Washington state, Cheney headlined a fund-raiser for two congressional candidates in Portland, Oregon. Bush lost Oregon in 2000 by fewer than 6,800 votes.

Cheney will travel to California on Tuesday to rally troops at Camp Pendleton, then campaign for congressional candidate Roy Ashburn in Bakersfield and U.S. Senate challenger Bill Jones in Riverside. On Wednesday, he will visit Utah, a GOP stronghold, to stump for congressional candidate John Swallow.

GOP: Kerry 'trying to escape' his record

Meanwhile, in Boston, Republican National Committee chairman Ed Gillespie headed a 30-person communication center to offer the GOP's perspective on Kerry, Edwards and the Democratic convention.

"We'll see what everyone says, and if anything needs to be corrected or updated, we would put something out after the speeches," said Jim Dyke, RNC communications director.

Gillespie claimed that Democrats were conducting an "extreme makeover" on Kerry, disingenuously trying to cast him as a moderate.

"The senator is trying to escape 20 years of his record in the United States Senate," Gillespie said.

Not to be outdone on their own turf, Democrats sent characters such as "Enron Ed" -- pointing to Gillespie's previous job as a lobbyist for embattled energy company Enron -- and "Billionaires for Bush" to parade outside the Republican headquarters.

CNN's Dana Bash and Catherine Berger contributed to this report.

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