Security Questions Raised for Democratic Convention in Boston

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(Host) Vermont Senator Patrick Leahy is concerned about potential terrorism strikes against the Democratic convention this summer in Boston. He posed security questions to Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney at a recent hearing.

Chad Pergram reports from our Capitol Hill Bureau.

(Pergram) Republican Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney traveled to Washington to testify about gay marriage. But Democratic Vermont Senator Patrick Leahy said he was more intrigued by the potential of terrorist strikes against the Democratic National Convention this summer in Boston:

(Leahy) “I’ll be interested to know the view of the governor of Massachusetts. Should America’s families dig deep into their pockets, fill up the family station wagon with $2 per gallon gasoline and travel the beaches of Massachusetts? Or should they buy duct tape and bottled water and hunker down until after the fall elections?”

(Pergram) Leahy asked Romney if he knew of any specific threats facing the convention. He cited warnings from Attorney General John Ashcroft that attacks were possible in the coming months, noting that the political conventions could be a target. Meantime, Homeland Security Secretary Tom Ridge advised Americans to be vigilant but enjoy the summer:

(Leahy) “Could you just tell us, who is right? They both gave conflicting statements that day, who is right – Tom Ridge or John Ashcroft?”

(Pergram) Romney said he didn’t think the possibility of terrorism at the convention was more serious than the general threat facing the U.S. today.

(Romney) “I would definitely go out and enjoy the summer because I’m not sure where you can hide, given the nature of the enemy we face. I believe that there’s an enemy upon this earth that would like to bring down the government of the United States, would like to impoverish our nation, would like to kill as many Americans as they can.”

(Pergram) Romney said safety concerns just reflect realities of the day:

(Romney) “I do believe that there are real and severe threats that face our nation and our citizens – not just associated with the Democratic Convention, but the Republican Convention, and every other large gathering of individuals. It’s a sorry state of affairs.”
(Leahy) “I suspect it will be the state of affairs for the rest of our lives.”

(Pergram) The Democrats meet in Boston at the end of July.

For Vermont Public Radio, I’m Chad Pergram on Capitol Hill.

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