Cheney: 'This conflict is a long way from over'

Vice President Dick Cheney on Friday pointed to the fighting between Israel and Hizbullah as fresh evidence of the ongoing battle against terrorism that underscores the need to keep President George W. Bush's Republican allies in control of Congress. "This conflict is a long way from over," Cheney said at a fundraising appearance for a Republican congressional candidate. "It's going to be a battle that will last for a very long time. It is absolutely essential that we stay the course." Cheney's visit to Tampa helped raise about $200,000 (€158,190) for the campaign of Gus Bilirakis, a state legislator who is running for the Tampa Bay area congressional seat his father is vacating. Cheney said that as Republicans make their case to voters in the midterm elections, "it's vital that we keep issues of national security at the top of the agenda." He faulted Democrats in Congress who have pushed for a timetable for withdrawing Americans from Iraq, saying that would send the wrong message to terrorists. "If anyone thinks the conflict is over or soon to be over, all they have to do is look at what's happening in the Middle East today," he said. Bilirakis' Democratic opponent, Phyllis Busansky, scheduled a news conference near the hotel where Cheney was appearing to argue that the Bush-Cheney administration had failed on both domestic and foreign policy fronts. Cheney has been traveling extensively on behalf of Republican candidates as the party tries to maintain control of Congress in the November elections.