CHAPEL HILL, N.C. (AP) -- In political debate, the side that keeps its arguments simple and repeats them again and again is likely to gain the advantage. It is an easier sale, especially when the topic is as scary as terrorism.
That's how Republicans got the edge in the dispute over President Barack Obama's planned closing of the Guantanamo Bay prison. And it put former Vice President Dick Cheney on a separate but almost equal platform with the president of the United States, which is a plus any time the party out of power can manage it.
Their back-to-back speeches on Thursday gave Cheney "a lot of credibility" and put Obama on the defensive, said Republican pollster David Winston.
"From a political standpoint, I think Cheney wins on points," said GOP strategist Rich Galen. Long-term, the former vice president's premier role may have a downside for the Republicans, given his 25 percent approval rating and his status as the most unpopular top figure in an unpopular administration. But Galen said that at this point, "It's either Cheney or who else. There's no who else, so you take Cheney."
In the Guantanamo argument,Obama's critics didn't worry about legalities, court decisions or complexities. They invented an argument about letting terrorists move next door to Americans.