September 17, 2004
HE'S A MUSIC MAN:
Buoyed by polls, Bush shows new confidence (Judy Keen, 9/17/04, USA TODAY)
[S]ome are already talking about strategy for the congressional elections in 2006. Presidents' parties usually lose ground in such midterm elections.
Brad Coker, who works for the non-partisan Mason-Dixon Polling & Research, said that sort of musing is a dangerous sign. "If they get too cocky, they could get themselves into trouble," he said. "They need to resist the temptation to start celebrating early."
Bush isn't celebrating, but he's reveling in his daily interactions with voters — even though the people who attend his campaign rallies are supporters who must have tickets. "I like to get out amongst the people and tell them where I stand, what I believe," he said at another baseball park here.
When he uses a lectern, he grips its sides with both hands, leaning forward to emphasize his comments. When he roams a stage with a handheld microphone, he pivots to make eye contact with people on all sides. He's disarming and charming. Coaxing participants in a panel on health care in Blaine, Bush said, "Ready to crank it up? All right, let's go."
After panelist Jerry Markie, 71, explained that he's saving $4,200 a year by using a Medicare discount card for prescriptions, Bush asked him, "You can use that, can't you?"
"You betcha," Markie said.
"Take mom out to dinner more frequently," Bush advised.
"More than once," Markie said.
Bush was peppy when he popped into the Brick House Deli in Anoka, mugged for cameras with owner Angel Howell's 8-month-old daughter, Kate Lynn, and ordered an egg salad sandwich. "Fire one up," he said. He settled for chicken salad when he was told egg salad wasn't on the menu.
"You can see confidence in Bush's face," says Republican strategist Scott Reed, who managed Bob Dole's presidential campaign in 1996. "So much of the mood of a campaign is set by the candidate."
While the Kerry campaign has come to resemble the Bataan Death March, the President seems like the guy who gets to dot the "i" in "Ohio" at a Buckeye halftime show. Posted by Orrin Judd at September 17, 2004 10:11 AM