September 17, 2004


President Ventures to Democratic Territory (Mike Allen, September 17, 2004, Washington Post )

President Bush rode his armored, star-spangled bus through the Democratic stronghold of Minnesota on Thursday as his campaign inaugurated a major push to spend more time and money in opposition territory.

Minnesota has not voted Republican in a presidential election since 1972, making it the state with the longest unbroken string of Democratic victories. But winning the Land of 10,000 Lakes, which Al Gore carried by two percentage points in 2000, has become one of the top goals for the Bush campaign.

Bush aides said they plan to move staff and advertising from several states where Bush won narrowly but is now running strong, including West Virginia and Missouri, into ones he wants to make Democratic nominee John F. Kerry defend, notably Minnesota and Wisconsin -- two states in the upper Midwest where churchgoing is heavy and issues of values play well. [...]

The Bush-Cheney campaign sent its biggest names to Gore states on Thursday. First lady Laura Bush spoke in New Jersey, where a poll last week showed Kerry barely ahead after once holding a double-digit lead. She urged supporters to court "Democrats and independents who appreciate strong and optimistic leadership." Vice President Cheney appeared in New Mexico, which Gore won by 366 votes and is a major worry for the Kerry team. [...]

Minnesota and Wisconsin, which Bush lost by 5,709 votes, have been trending Republican for at least eight years and White House strategists believe they can turn them by targeting suburbs, along with rural areas that used to be solidly Democratic, with Bush's promises of a muscular foreign policy, preservation of traditional values and attempts to lower taxes.

So how did Bush become competitive in the only state to vote for native son Walter F. Mondale in 1984, and one of only 10 carried by Michael S. Dukakis in 1988? Lawrence R. Jacobs, director of the 2004 election project at the University of Minnesota's Hubert H. Humphrey Institute of Public Affairs, said the state has become more suburban, and the New Deal generation is dying out.

"It no longer looks like Little Sweden, with support for higher taxes and more government services," Jacobs said. He added that another factor is that the state "is like everywhere else" in that national security is eclipsing traditional Democratic issues such as health care.

These are the tactics of a campaign that thinks it's won--you'll know they think they might post a landslide when they turn their attention to the Pacific coast states and NY and northern New England.

Posted by Orrin Judd at September 17, 2004 10:03 AM

I posted above about the concern that the Bush campaign will get too cocky (i.e. like in 2000 campaigning in CA when they lost there by double digits) but agree with OJ here. Unless something dramatic in the world happens the debates are Kerry's last chance to catch up. If those go well for Bush then a push into the pacific coast and Northern New England would make sense (after campaigning in LA, OK, AK, SD, FL, CO, NC for Senate candidates).

Posted by: AWW at September 17, 2004 10:52 AM

(knocking on wood to countermand feeling cocksure). . . .

Posted by: Twn at September 17, 2004 10:58 AM

This isn't being cocky. If you're winning in the openly contested areas, the proper response is kick ’em while they're down and bring the fight to the other guy's home territory.

Posted by: Annoying Old Guy at September 17, 2004 12:29 PM

AOG's right. We can afford to be cocky, just not complacent. An air of inevitability isn't going to hurt Bush one bit, especially with Nader and Cobb standing over there with open arms.

Posted by: Timothy at September 17, 2004 2:33 PM