GOP hoping terror card can save them


Richard Moore

   ³President Bush and the Republicans expect a stinging defeat
    in November, but they're betting the terror card saves them
    from an electoral debacle.²

The Republicans can take heart! See:

  ³Cheney won't rule out terror strike²


Original source URL:

Posted on Tue, Sep. 05, 2006

Bush, GOP hoping terror card can save them from election drubbing

By Thomas M. DeFrank
New York Daily News

WASHINGTON - President Bush and the Republicans expect a stinging defeat in 
November, but they're betting the terror card saves them from an electoral 

"The security issue trumps everything," a senior Bush official said last week. 
"That's why even though they're really mad at us, in the end they're going to 
give us another two years."

Nevertheless, many other senior Bush loyalists privately believe anti-Iraq and 
anti-Bush sentiment will cost the Republicans the House nine weeks from today, a
doomsday scenario that would cripple Bush for his final two years in office.

"We'll lose the House," one of the party's most prominent officials flatly 
predicted, "and the president will be dead in the water for two years."

Even a perennially optimistic senior Bush strategist conceded, "I'm pretty 
worried about it. The House is not looking good."

The Democrats need a net gain of six seats in the Senate or 15 in the House to 
gain control of one chamber. Barring a huge national wave of Bush-backlash, the 
GOP is widely expected to lose seats but hang on to its slim majority in the 

The House - which was thought to be impregnable until Iraq, immigration and 
Hurricane Katrina sent Bush's approval ratings into a tailspin - is "very much 
in play and very much in flux," according to a White House number-cruncher.

"This cake is baked," predicted Charlie Cook, editor of the nonpartisan Cook 
Political Report newsletter. "You just don't have a wave of this magnitude and 
not see 15 seats turn over."

The best-case scenario offered by several White House and Republican Party 
optimists projects losing three Senate seats and eight to 10 House races. That 
would diminish Bush's legislative clout, but keep the GOP in control.

If the election were held today, a top analyst closely allied with the White 
House said, the Republicans would lose at least 20 seats, more than enough to 
make Rep. Nancy Pelosi of California speaker of the House and New York's Charles
Rangel chairman of the Ways and Means Committee, which controls billions in 
government spending. A key Bush official called those prospects "suicidal for 
the country" - a theme Republicans will trumpet throughout the campaign.

Bush's handlers acknowledge he's an unpopular president whose leadership 
credentials have been shattered in the last year, even though his poll approval 
ratings have ticked back into the low 40s from their lows in the 30s.

Americans have "decided the personal characteristics that kept him afloat for a 
long time aren't that appealing anymore," an influential Bushie told the New 
York Daily News. "They also think Iraq is a failure."

But Bush political guru Karl Rove believes a massive GOP counteroffensive begun 
last week re-emphasizing the terror threat and linking the war in Iraq to 
keeping America safe will carry the day.

Bush planners also believe Republicans have a superior "ground game" that will 
prove more effective in identifying and turning out their vote than the 

"We enjoy a severalfold strategic advantage on the ground," said a confident top
Bush strategist. "A well-executed mediocre plan will beat a poorly executed 
brilliant plan every day."

© 2006, New York Daily News.
Visit the Daily News online at
Distributed by McClatchy-Tribune Information Services.

© 2006 KRT Wire and wire service sources. All Rights Reserved.

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