The Note

"Few would discuss their concerns on the record, but in interviews with 20 Republican officials and strategists across the country, most said off the record that they are beginning to worry. They fear that if U.S. soldiers keep dying in Iraq and the jobless rate doesn't improve, Bush will be vulnerable to the Democratic nominee's charge that he doesn't deserve a second term."

Keen does give bullet points of the president's strength's: "Heaps of cash," "The powers of incumbency," and "Support for the war on terrorism."

Judy, Judy, Judy: Ms. Keen's excellent piece is going to set us back 15 months trying to train our journalistically ambitious interns with this passage:

"Few would discuss their concerns on the record, but in interviews with 20 Republican officials and strategists across the country, most said off the record that they are beginning to worry."

We think that was probably "deep background," Judy.

The New York Post 's Fredric Dicker reports, "President Bush arrived in New York to bad political news yesterday: a new poll showing his approval rating plummeting among state voters." LINK

The New York Daily News' Maggie Haberman has the same bad news. LINK

"Campaign officials said they intend to put New York in play — even though they concede Bush has zero chance of winning the state, where the GOP will hold its convention next year."

"Instead, the emerging strategy is to commit organization and campaign cash to the New York operation because the city media market overlaps New Jersey and Connecticut — two states some Bush operatives believe they have a shot at taking."

John DiStaso reports on Cheney's no pretenses re-election effort in Manchester. LINK

Kevin Landrigan of the Nashua Telegraph reports that Vice President Cheney "drew fewer than 90 supporters inside and roughly twice as many protesters across Elm Street outside Tuesday night." LINK

It was nice of the Govenor to stay as long as he did; those Cheney speeches can be long.

Clark:

General-ists Harwood, Meyerson, and Lehigh raise some questions for us this morning.

-- Is Wesley Clark the new Bobby Kennedy? (And won't that delight the Kennedy-endorsement-primary winners over there at the Kerry campaign? We are reaching for our Theodore H. White as we write … ) -- Can Clark keep together the Democratic factions which seem, right now, to be going his way? -- Will The General be able to trade "artful pabulum" for domestic policy substance today? -- Can Wes Clark avoid becoming the John McCain of this campaign cycle? -- And is Clark's Iraq talk less or more muddled than it seems to "we the press?"

Writing in the Washington Post , Harold Meyerson praises Clark's prospects thus far and makes the case that Clark has swiped the momentum from the other guys in the race (and yes, he only mentions guys). Then he warns Clark to be careful not to get so close to the Establishment that he ignites the candidacy of People-Powered Howard. LINK

We are quoting the venerable Mr. Harwood when we use the word "pabulum," it is true.

Harwood goes on to tell his readers that "the thin record of the general's domestic-policy utterances suggest he is reading polls as closely as any center-left Democratic stalwart" and get Mark Fabiani to say 2004 "will not be an election that will turn on who has the best 10-point plan."

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