Dan Balz writes about the Bush re-election strategy in the WaPo. While there is some interesting information in the article, the item that struck me most is this: "Republican strategists see the 2004 election as their best opportunity in a generation to construct a durable governing majority, and they have set in motion a systematic and coordinated strategy designed to leverage President Bush’s popularity and break the impasse that has dominated the country’s politics since the mid-1990s.
The president himself established the ambitions behind the 2004 strategy earlier this year, when he authorized advisers to begin planning for a reelection campaign that began in earnest last week with a series of fundraising events. According to several GOP strategists, Bush told his team: Don’t give me "a lonely victory." Said one top Bush adviser, "He said, ’I don’t want what Nixon had. I don’t want what Reagan had.’"
In other words, Bush wants a Republican Party victory, not just a Bush presidential victory. You might remember that in 1984, when it was pretty much known that Reagan was going to trounce Mondale in his re-election effort, the day before election day, on his way to California, Reagan stopped off in Minnesota
and held a rally at the airport because some of his advisors said he just maybe able to carry Mondale’s home state. It is true that he almost did (in the end, aside from taking DC, Mondale carried only one state, Minnesota, by just 6,000 votes out of two million cast), but some of us thought that Reagan should have stopped off to help some GOP candidate for the House. Clearly, Bush is not going to make such a mistake; also keep Bush’s extraordinary effort for the GOP in the 2002 elections in mind, when reflecting on how he is going to fight the 2004 contest.