Adam Smith of the St. Petersburg Times puts some perspective ont he trip: "To call Escambia County a Republican stronghold is like calling Tiger Woods a decent golfer." LINK
Now we know Tiger hasn't been playing at the top of his game lately, but Smith points out that "the president won the district by more than two to one in 2000, and his campaign is counting on an even stronger showing in November to counteract anti-Bush passion in heavily Democratic south Florida."
An editorial in the Pensacola News Journal has some points the President could raise today to reach out to independents and undecideds: the deficit, WMDs in Iraq, Superfund budget and the tone of the presidential campaign. LINK
The Pensacola News Journal previews the President's day. LINK
President Bush is polling well in the Panhandle. LINK
In anticipation of the presidential visit today, 350 residents attended the Democratic "strong men" rally led by Sen. Bob Graham in Pensacola. LINK
As Kerry surrogates tried to pre-empt coverage, the big one, Sen. Bob Graham, almost called the President unpatriotic. LINK
The Wall Street Journal's Jake Schlesinger and Jackie Calmes offer up a must-read overview of President Bush's economic agenda, with proposals focusing on an "era of ownership," with tax breaks for health care, savings and job training. Bush's plan will also draw a distinction between himself and Sen. Kerry, the duo Note, who's mostly talking up higher taxes for the wealthiest populations and government involvement in health care and education. LINK
Note the nut graf: "Most of the specific White House campaign proposals are likely to be small-scale, and will leave some of Mr. Bush's backers yearning for bolder steps to assuage voter anxiety over issues such as jobs, and lay the groundwork for a sweeping, conservative legacy. Most will also likely just repeat previous proposals, albeit in somewhat revised or expanded form. In large part, the Bush advisers feel constrained by the president's pledge to cut the budget deficit to $260 billion by 2009, down from the projected $445 billion this year. The White House economic team's caution toward new initiatives also reflects the risk-averse attitude of a campaign facing a close election."
And the handy clip-and-save chart at the bottom!
USA Today's Richard Benedetto looks at the, um, spontaneity of the BC04 "Ask President Bush" events and Notes that they "leave little to chance." LINK
Benedetto walks through the planning process for such an event, from the ticketing process to the locals on stage with the President to the audience questions, which often sound staged, something the campaign insists is not true.
"None of these is ever planted," says Scott Stanzel, a spokesman for the Bush-Cheney campaign. "Nobody knows who's going to be called on."
Leslie Pappas of the Philadelphia Inquirer looks at the other focus of Mrs. Bush's speech, malpractice insurance -- "a welcome topic for the members of the Pennsylvania Medical Society, which endorsed Bush yesterday, the first time it has given a presidential endorsement." LINK
Mrs. Bush was also in Toledo yesterday where The Toledo Blade's Fritz Wenzel's lead is: "First Lady Laura Bush brought her Texas charm and White House rhetoric to Toledo yesterday, making a pitch for support of her husband's re-election effort to a crowd of 200, most of them female entrepreneurs." LINK