"With less than a week before the election, President Bush sought to rally Republican voters on Wednesday with a vigorous defense of the war in Iraq and a vow to keep Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld in office until the end of Mr. Bush's term," writes John Broder of the New York Times. LINK
Was the POTUS statement a gaffe? A pitch to the base? A pitch to the center that likes Texas say-what-I-mean-and-mean-what-I-say straight talk? Or simply the truth, without regard to politics?
We will likely read the answer in Dan Bartlett's memoirs.
Steve Holland reports for Reuters that in an interview with wire service reporters, President Bush said that he expected Donald Rumsfeld to continue on as defense secretary after the mid-terms, despite (mostly Democratic) demands that he step down. Bush said of Rumsfeld, "He's handled all three at the same time (Afghanistan, Iraq, and the military at home). And I'm pleased with the progress we're making." LINK
The AP's Terrence Hunt reports that, in that same Wednesday interview, Bush continued to display confidence that Republicans will retain control of the House saying, "I don't believe it's over until everybody votes. . . And I believe that people are concerned about the amount of taxes they pay, and I know many people are concerned about whether or not this country is secure against attack." In the interview, Bush also said that he had not received any more troop requests and that generals in Iraq are ok with the 144,000 troops deployed in Iraq. LINK
House Majority Leader John Boehner (R-OH) tried to buck up his members yesterday reminding them of the good ole' days of 1994 and why he believes the GOP majority in the House is not in jeopardy on Tuesday.
"The American people put us in the majority in 1994 partly because they were tired of business as usual in Washington, and they wanted change. But they also saw that we stood for something. . . something they agreed with. In my mind, that's the key difference between the Republicans of 1994 and the Democrats of 2006: the Republicans of 1994 stood for something beyond simply change. The Democrats of 2006 don't," wrote Boehner.
Boehner goes on to list the GOP accomplishments since then. His second bullet point? "A balanced federal budget that led to the first budget surplus in a generation."
Howard Fineman of Newsweek looks for the positive in the White House and GOP strategy, "It's as if they don't think it's worth trying to make their case," writes Fineman. He also cites Bush and Rove's "Halloween strategy: scare the hell out of the GOP base to get them to the polls to forestall the Apocalypse." However, the strategy doesn't have as good a chance to work when "you own negatives are sky high." LINK
Josh Gerstein of the New York Sun reports on President Clinton's outlook on the midterms, "For so long their strategy of turning us from three-dimensional human beings into two-dimensional cartoons worked for them, that they ran that old dog out of the chute one time too many." The analogy continued as he "could just see the Republicans licking their chops when Nancy got to be our leader. They love to make all those speeches about San Francisco Democrats. It's part of the shtick you know. It's part of their 'be very afraid' shtick." LINK