Political News Summary: Feb. 11

Simon won the straw poll, which isn't surprising, given the conservative tilt of the convention, but he is probably going to have to spend a lot more of his personal wealth to overtake the frontrunner's big lead. ( http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cgi?f=/c/a/2002/02/11/MN173617.dtl )

Simon will be campaigning (read: fundraising) in New York today.

Bush Administration Strategy/Personality

We've been pushing this story for awhile now: the president will face a decision whether to prop up the steel industry, knowing at once that if he doesn't, it'll cost him votes, and if he does, it may imperil even more jobs than would be saved, annoy steel-users in the United States, cost the Treasury a pretty penny, and tarnish his free-trade credentials.

Today, the The Wall Street Journal gets it just right: "When the president in June first sought authority to restrict steel imports, it was seen as an easy way to bulk up support ahead of the 2004 election in such steel states as Pennsylvania, Ohio and West Virginia, while winning room in Congress to maneuver on other trade issues. The effort was couched as part of a larger strategy to slash subsidies and excess steel capacity around the world while moving aggressively to restructure a battered domestic industry." ( http://wsj.emailthis.clickability.com/et/emailThis?clickMap=viewThis&etMailToID=1917972736 )

"President Bush has been quiet on the subject since August, when he told hundreds of steelworkers outside Pittsburgh that steel is 'an important national security issue." Nor does his call for more jobs in his State of the Union address necessarily put him firmly in the steel camp. Many Bush officials fear that hefty tariffs will cost more jobs than they save and could damp any economic rebound. The Bureau of Labor Statistics estimates that as of 1999, 12 million people worked in steel-consuming jobs; just 160,000 now work in the steel industry."

The Journal also says that the aforementioned Mr. Ed Gillespie is working with former Clinton press guy Joe Lockhart on the US Steel account, and that a "television advertising campaign, set to run in Steel Country starting this week, urges viewers: 'Call the White House. Ask President Bush to keep the steel in America's strength.'" (Who has the tape to send us, gentle readers?)

And here is the photo op for which we wait: "The real political threat is the busloads of irate steelworkers that could descend on Capitol Hill and 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue. 'If we have to stir up our troops up again, we will,' says United Steelworkers of America spokesman Gary Hubbard. 'For us, this is the end of the road.'"

There are two kinds of people within the subset of students of media coverage of presidential campaigns: those who know about the central role the network off-air reporters play in the group dynamics of "the plane," and those who don't.

And there are two kinds of people who watched from afar the Bush campaign plane: those who knew that NBC News off-air Alexandra Pelosi shot hours and hours of video on the plane with her own hand-held camera., and those who didn't.

Well, now the world knows (or, at least, those who still get their news from Time magazine). This week's issue has a full page on the fact that Pelosi has finally finished editing her tapes into a film ("Journeys with George") that will be shown at an Austin film festival next month.

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