Refreshing Nancy Johnson's Memory
President Bush has become the invisible man of the Republican Party's effort to keep control of the House and Senate in November's midterm elections.
The Web sites of the party's candidates in the most competitive races across the country either give only a passing nod to the president or don't even mention Bush, whose popularity has been weighed down by the war in Iraq, high gas prices, economic anxieties and lingering memories of last August's Hurricane Katrina.
With about nine weeks to go before the Nov. 7 election, the Bush online invisibility mirrors a strategic divide between Republicans who want to keep the congressional elections as local as possible and Democrats who want to turn the midterm vote into a national referendum on the president and his policies.
Democrats need 15 seats to take back the House that they lost to the Republicans in 1994 and six seats to control the Senate. Polls show they at least have a shot, especially in the House.
Examples of Bush's disappearance abound on visits to the Web sites of GOP candidates.
Rep. Nancy Johnson, R-Conn., one of three Connecticut GOP House members targeted by the Democrats, just can't bring herself to use Bush's name. Instead, four times in her issues section on national security she mentions how she supported "the president'' on votes involving Iraq and funding for the war on terrorism.
Her colleague, Rep. Rob Simmons, R-Conn., on his campaign site's home page, runs a photo of himself with Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., who leads polls for the party's 2008 presidential nomination. No mention of Bush anywhere, and Simmons boasts to home state voters that he is "one of the most independent Republicans in the entire U.S. House.''
The state's third GOP House Member, Rep. Chris Shays, said last week after his 14th visit to Iraq that he had switched positions and now favors a timetable for withdrawing U.S. forces.
Larry Sabato, who predicts Democratic gains come November and won't rule out Democratic majorities in either or both houses, said the localization strategy won't work. "It's nearly impossible in mid-term elections to run from the leader in the White House. Mid-term elections are seen as an opportunity to send a message on the White House,'' he said.
Perhaps the picture above from a press conference celebrating Johnson's doughnut hole Medicare legislation will remind Nancy of her good friend George. If not, maybe this video detailing Bush's legislation that Johnson has rubber stamped will.
Nancy, you can run but you can't hide from your good friend George W. Bush.