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8.16.2003

 

Does The Post Read Points West?


The answer is, I doubt it. But both here and at Dean Nation I've been making the Rove and the CA recall case, as below:

Dems that were once hopeful hopeful Senator Diane Feinstein would run as a "safety net" on the California recall ballot are fast becoming furious that she's refusing to do so now. And, it's not just about the future of the state, but the future of the nation. The Dems chances of taking back the White House diminish if the recall of Governor Gray Davis is successful and he is replaced by Arnold Schwarzenegger. He will campaign relentlessly for George Bush, and force the Dem nominee -- hopefully, Dean -- to spend resources in the state that could otherwise be used in key battlgorund states. If you think he can't win, think again....If George Bush, with Arnold's help, eeks out a victory in California, Diane's place in history will be toast...Some pundits think it's better for Bush to have an unpopular Davis remain in office to kick around. This scenario would require Schwarzenegger to become as unpopular as Davis to be good for Dems, which seems unlikely to me, and I must respectfully disagree.

Check out the comments from that thread, and you'll see that many believed I was loony to think that Bush could be competitive in California, but I must say that these folks are mostly not on the ground in California right now! So, here's the analysis from Thursday's Washington Post:


President Bush arrives in California today with his political fortunes increasingly tied to the powerful but unpredictable figure of Arnold Schwarzenegger. [...]

For better or worse, however, a number of Bush aides, Republican strategists and pollsters believe the Terminator's fortunes in the recall, if only because of his dominating presence in the race, will affect the president's reelection prospects next year in the nation's most populous state -- and possibly beyond.

One prominent adviser to Bush said the excitement behind the muscle man's candidacy means "California's not lost forever." On the other hand, said GOP strategist Scott Reed, "If Arnold flames out after this historic buildup, it'll look like Republicans can't get their act together. "Like it or not, the Bush White House is a little pregnant on the Arnold candidacy," Reed said.

In the best scenario for Bush, Davis is ousted, Schwarzenegger triumphs with a united Republican vote and California's bleak fiscal situation begins to improve. With the governorship in popular Republican hands, the state's 54 electoral votes, once a lost cause for the GOP, could come within Bush's grasp in 2004.

Alternatively, if Schwarzenegger's candidacy implodes, it could leave the Republicans without an obvious candidate to face reinvigorated Democrats. And Schwarzenegger's candidacy could turn the vote into a referendum on racial politics because he supported an immigration crackdown in 1994 that continues to infuriate Hispanics. Such a backlash could hurt Bush beyond California in 2004.

Bush's aides and advisers are caught between the potential risks and rewards. Though rumors swirl about involvement in the Schwarzenegger campaign by Karl Rove, Bush's top strategist, the White House is officially mum. "I haven't asked anybody to get engaged, and I'm not aware of anybody that has been engaged," Chief of Staff Andrew H. Card Jr. said yesterday.

The White House finds itself in the awkward position of playing spectator in a race that could alter Bush's political future. Though Rove cares so much about California that an associate calls the state "Karl's Ahab," the recall was driven by people at odds with the administration, such as Shawn Steel, who was pushed out by Bush allies as state Republican Party chairman. "It changes the fortune for the presidential campaign dramatically if we win," Steel said.

A Bush adviser acknowledged that "the recall was not something that we wanted to happen because it potentially gives the Democrats a chance to say what's happening in California is all about the recall process and not about the governor and his Democratic leaders." The adviser said Bush's 2004 prospects would be hurt if Davis, or Lt. Gov. Cruz Bustamante (D), prevails and performs well in office, or if a Republican wins and does poorly.

"There is fear that, beloved this year, the [new Republican] governor could be unpopular next year," a Bush campaign official said. "Maybe it's better to keep Gray Davis as a punching bag."

Still, Schwarzenegger's decision to join the race, and early polls showing broad support, has buoyed the Bush campaign's hopes of a lift in 2004. "Schwarzenegger is the only candidate who has a chance to achieve what we wanted," one adviser said, adding that the two leading conservatives in the race, businessman Bill Simon and state Sen. Tom McClintock, have too much of a "hard edge" to add to Bush's appeal in the state.

Don't expect Bush to say that publicly, however. Bush aides believe that appearing to meddle would backfire and boost Democrats' efforts to link the California recall to the 2000 Florida recount. Still, California Republicans say, lawmakers and others tied to the White House have been putting what one called "heavy pressure" on Simon and McClintock to drop out -- and one GOP strategist close to the White House expects one or both to quit.

The recall effort has already produced benefits for Bush. It has frozen the Democratic nominating contest in a desirable spot for him -- with no obvious challenger. The attention to California is also depriving the Democratic candidates of attention and is expected to cramp their fundraising.

Even if a Republican governor does not deliver California to Bush next year, Republicans believe it would make Democrats spend more time and effort to win the state. "We can distract the opposition long enough to make them vulnerable elsewhere on the national political landscape," said Dan Schnur, a California GOP operative.
And hey, said a bit differently, you heard it here first. I consider myself vindicated. But read the rest of the article, there are plenty of rays of Sunshine throughout and at the end. Let's all pray that Arnold implodes, he's down in recent polls and the press is turning on him in a big way. (Cross-posted in slightly different form at Dean Nation)

UPDATE: Not sure how I missed it, but Billmon's anlaysis over at Whiskey Bar is quite exceptional. And, he's one the most entertaining and high-quality writers on the Web.


8.14.2003

 

Technology Challenged


Sorry for the lack of activity on Points West this week, but our computer access was down for a few days. Stay tuned for a week in review, but for now, I'm just trying to get caught up with my posting responsibilities over at Dean Nation!


8.10.2003

 

One Hand Slapping


Panetta's out (we may have helped) and none of the Gang of Four are in. PW's last-minute, all-out push for Feinstein? No effect. So what now? Oppose the recall and support Bustamante seems to be the only way. More stock-taking on the recall soon, but for now, we here at PW are too darn busy slapping ourselves around to type. Have a great Sunday!


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