Sunday, August 29, 2004

Bush Takes On Direct Role in Shaping Election Tactics: "President Bush will accept his party's nomination in New York this week on the crest of a campaign that aides say reflects an unusual level of involvement from the president himself, particularly in driving attacks on Senator John Kerry that have characterized his re-election effort since the spring."

"Mr. Bush has always had a strong taste for politics, and was an important player in his father's presidential campaigns of 1988 and 1992, as well as in his own race in 2000. But his intense involvement this time reflects what aides said was his concern about his prospects, a determination not to repeat the mistakes that he watched his father make in 1992, and lessons he drew from the close election of 2000.

"Mr. Bush has put to use the knowledge that he accumulated working on his father's campaigns, like the political dynamics and history of battleground states, and the names of important local Republicans.

"As Mr. Bush was flying from Texas to New Mexico on Thursday, Rudolph W. Giuliani, the former mayor of New York, turned to him on Air Force One and suggested that Albuquerque was heavily Democratic, White House aides said. Mr. Bush responded by saying the city was split politically, and he talked about the importance of its suburban counties.

"In an interview, Representative Dave Camp, a Michigan Republican, recounted a campaign trip with Mr. Bush this month on Air Force One to Traverse City. 'We talked a lot about northern Michigan; I was amazed at how much he knew,'' Mr. Camp said. 'He's very strategic in the way he thinks. He had an understanding of the makeup of the district, of the nature of the registration and of the voting patterns.'

"Representative Rob Portman of Ohio, a top campaign adviser, had a similar observation. 'He understands the distinction between the Northeast and the Southwest, and he understands that central Ohio is a battleground,' Mr. Portman said. 'He knows what it takes on the ground to win a campaign. Not every candidate has that feel.'"

"Mr. Bush said in the interview last week, … 'If the question is, "Is it different running this time now that you're the president?" the answer is yes. I've got a job to do.'"

"Mr. Bennett, the Ohio party chairman, said … 'I'm astounded at the amount of knowledge that he has about Ohio—the names of little towns, talking about the farmland,' he said. 'When his father ran for president, he spent a lot of time in Ohio, in 1992,' Mr. Bennett said. 'People underestimate this president, and they underestimate his knowledge.''"

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