Pollsters and communications advisers to congressional Republicans are urging lawmakers not to follow President Bush's lead when it comes to talking about terrorists and the threat they pose to the nation.
While Bush has lightened up on using the word "Islamic" in front of terrorists, the advisers said on background that the word should always be used because Americans believe that "Islamics" are those who act on terrorist threats. Words to avoid are "Muslim," "extremist," and "radicals."
One adviser, who was part of two closed-door briefings by the consultants to GOP congressional members and aides over the past two weeks, said most Americans polled are not threatened by "Muslims" and that the words "extremist" and "radical" conjure up an image of people who make threats but don't follow through with them. "People believe terrorists act, so we should be using that instead of extremist or radicals. Calling the threat 'an Islamic terrorist' or 'al Qaeda' works better than 'Muslim radical,'" said the consultant.