If I were betting, I would say that they're going to use the same strategy they've always used (and with undeniable success): Fear.
It's really the only card they can play, although they're almost 'over-played' that card. Since there hasn't been an attack to feed into a visceral patriotic reaction, The GOP is going to have to bide its time until they can find something to work off of (the Iranian gunboat incident and the Al Queda kid training video come to mind) before the general election. That's a real concern for anyone who's anti-Iraq War. All it takes is for Bin Laden to realize what a good thing he's got - high recruitment because of US occupation of a Muslim country- and he'll orchastrate an attack or threaten to. And all the GOP needs to do at that point is to inflate the critical nature of the incident, and next thing you know we've got Bush Part III. It worked before. Check Keith Olbermann's wrap-up here
And yes, the economy & Iraq are related on a marco level (although not to the Bush Administration, who continue to leave its costs out of the budgets). But again- the majority of the population will react first to visceral threats; such as
- "dirty bombs"
- the word "defeatist"
- "gay marriage"
- "Immigrant hordes" (although I'm a bit more conservative on this than my Party)
- "Tax and Spend Libruls"
- "An assault on Christianity"
....inexplicably in contrast to what benefits them from an economic standpoint.
On the up-side, by nominating McCain, I think that the GOP has shot itself in the foot on one of the major scare factors - immigration. They can't go on full-scale attack with his record.
The Equation for a 2008 GOP Win: They really need Hillary to win the Dem nomination + an Al Queda attack / 'Threat Level Orange' incident in Sept/ Oct.
Good reading with regards to these topics:
The One Percent Doctrine
by Ron Suskind
What's The Matter with Kansas
by Thomas Frank