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The Democratic Strategist

Political Strategy for a Permanent Democratic Majority

Back On Their Heels

In all the flurry of last-minute polls, ads and talking points, one of the most interesting Signs of the Times of this midterm election is the highly selective deployment of the President of the United States. Not wanted in many competitive states and districts, and following the Rovian strategy of energizing a very dispirited conservative GOP base, Bush is going into very red territory and nowhere else: Georgia, Texas, Kansas, Montana, Nevada. This is reminiscent of the limitations experienced more than thirty years ago, heading into the very similar 1974 elections, when, before his resignation, Richard M. Nixon wasn’t wanted much of anywhere. Indeed, in Kansas that year, when Sen. Bob Dole was embroiled in a very tight race, he was asked if he wanted the President to appear in the state for him. “I wouldn’t mind if he flew over Kansas,” quoth Dole. Actually, Nixon spent a good part of early 1974 flying around the world to places where locals could be counted on to show up in large numbers to cheer him and wave American flags. This is obviously not an option for George W. Bush. Republicans are clearly back on their heels going into Tuesday’s elections. George W. Bush is a negative factor for the GOP nationally, and I doubt he’s going to have much magic for candidates even in the reddest of red states.

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