A February 16 New York Times article on the congressional debate over President Bush's plan to increase the number of troops in Iraq reported that "Republican leaders ... have accused some Democrats of pursuing a strategy to cut war financing gradually -- 'a slow bleed,' Senator Trent Lott of Mississippi, the Republican whip, put it, 'a terminology that horrifies me.' " Lott's quote suggests that it is the Democrats who chose the "terminology" that "horrifies" him -- reflecting a false claim first made in a Republican National Committee press release. But the Times article neither refuted the claim nor explained the origin of the "slow bleed" term.
In fact, as Media Matters for America noted, the RNC seized on the term "slow bleed" to describe the Democrats' Iraq strategy after it appeared in a February 14 article by Politico congressional bureau chief John Bresnahan. As Media Matters also noted, Bresnahan did not attribute the term to anyone and did not put it in quotation marks, suggesting that it was The Politico's own characterization. Nonetheless, the RNC asserted in a press release that House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) and Rep. John Murtha (D-PA) "call it their 'slow-bleed' plan."
Bresnahan clarified in a February 16 Politico article that the term was not "used by any Democrats or the anti-war groups supporting their efforts."