Hoyer: Dems more successful at fighting terrorists than GOP

House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer (D-Md.) on Tuesday said the Obama administration has been more successful in combating terrorism than its predecessor.

“We're tough on terrorists. That’s our policy. That’s our performance. And, in fact, we've been more successful,” Hoyer said at his weekly press availability.

Former President George W. Bush’s presidency was dominated by the issue of terrorism, and Bush’s vice president, Dick Cheney, has taken several shots at Democrats and President Barack Obama for endangering national security.

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Hoyer’s remarks Tuesday appeared designed to counterattack Republicans looking to the attempted bombing Saturday in Times Square as evidence that Democrats are not doing enough to stop terrorists.

House Republican Whip Eric Cantor (R-Va.) adopted this very line of attack on Tuesday morning through a national security speech at the Heritage Foundation, charging the Obama administration with focusing on terrorism incidents "only in limited spurts."

"With each close encounter, my fear is that the country goes on heightened alert only as long as the media tend to cover it," Cantor said. 

"Equally concerning is that the administration and other elected officials tend to give these warnings due attention only in limited spurts. Many of the same critics who groused about how we failed to connect the dots prior to 9-11 are today repeating the same pattern. As a result, America is at risk of slipping into the type of false sense of security which prevailed before that September morning."

Hoyer took a direct shot at the Bush administration over Afghanistan, which he said had been ignored by the previous administration. He added that Democrats have been more successful in targeting terrorists where they come from.

“We've been more successful in Pakistan,” Hoyer said. "We're focused on where terrorism began — not began but was launched against us — in Afghanistan, which the Bush administration essentially ignored and, as a result, after seven years had a festering, worsening situation inherited by this administration.”

Hoyer also fought back against Republicans who’ve been critical of offering Miranda rights to terrorism suspects who are also U.S. citizens. He noted the Bush administration likewise issued Miranda rights to American citizens who were arrested.

The suspect arrested in the Times Square incident, Faisal Shahzad, was read his rights by U.S. authorities early Tuesday.

“I think it doesn't have a great deal of credibility, carping about that. Because, of course, that's the way Bush handled [it],” Hoyer said. “[Saying], 'It wasn't wrong when Bush did it but now it's wrong'? I don't think that sells.”

Hoyer said foiling terrorist attacks involves a degree of luck.

“I think every administration — the Bush administration, the Clinton administration — [has] tried to do what they could to preclude incidents from happening,” Hoyer said. “It is extraordinarily difficult.

“You've got to do everything you possibly can, and pray that you get also lucky,” he added. “Not because luck is what you want to rely on, but because, clearly, it is such a difficult challenge.”

This story was updated at 7:03 p.m.

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