In Response To Debate Flame-Out, Bush Camp Makes Questionable Moves
Aside from what happens tonight, the dynamic of the race is changing for Kerry’s benefit. Consider these recent developments:
Bush was slated to give his worn-out speech pushing tort reform tomorrow, but because of the damage that Kerry did to him on Iraq and foreign policy in general at last week’s debate, the Bush campaign junked the speech on tort reform for tomorrow and decided instead to give another speech on Iraq and the economy to undo some of the damage. The problems? First, Paul Bremer cuts off Bush’s legs this morning with his comments on how Bush bungled Iraq, and Kerry has already this morning started using Bremer’s comments against Bush. Second, while Bush sings the praises of his tax cuts and the jobs that have never shown up, Challenger and Gray reports that planned layoffs in September skyrocketed to eight-month highs. So now Bush has dumped a speech on tort reform that was important to his base and is sucked into talking on issues for which events have undercut him and on which Kerry is attacking him again.
Second, in his Iowa appearance yesterday, Bush defended his inaction on health care and broken campaign promises by attacking Kerry’s comprehensive health care proposals as “Hillary Care.” This is a mistake for two reasons. First, it gives Kerry a several-day head start to see what line of attack Bush will use to defend himself on his health care failures. And second, does Bush really want to drag Hillary into the campaign directly?
Dragging Hillary Clinton into this will allow Clinton herself to remind voters that the GOP has done nothing to extend health care to the uninsured since the GOP has controlled the House, and they and the insurance industry teamed up to kill the 1994 proposal. Sure, Rove may want to fire up the base with more Hillary bashing. But how well will it play to bash Hillary on health care when a significant number of voters think health care is one of the top three issues in this race? With Kerry finally getting the black vote back into the campaign in the final thirty days, Bush should be looking for ways to keep the Democrats home, and bashing Kerry and Hillary for Bush’s abandonment of his health care promises makes it only more likely that both Clintons (yep, the Big Dog too) will come out in the final weeks to kick Bush’s ass on the subject.
If you don’t think that the newly registered and dormant Democratic base won’t come out of their shoes in the last two weeks at the sight of both Clintons attacking Bush on health care and his other domestic failings, then you don’t know politics.
Stupid move, W.