GOP Campaigns Want Bush on Sidelines

Advisers to the major Republican presidential candidates are developing a consensus on what role President Bush should play in the 2008 campaign—little or none.

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Advisers to the major Republican presidential candidates are developing a consensus on what role President Bush should play in the 2008 campaign—little or none.

Several strategists told U.S. News that Bush can help the party and the eventual nominee by raising money, which he is very good at. Many potential donors are still eager to meet the 43rd president at private events and have a photo taken with him as a link with American history, even if they disagree with his policies.

Beyond that, there is great reluctance to encourage Bush to play a visible role in the presidential campaign as long as his popularity remains so low.

"President Bush can be helpful if he stays out of the way," says a senior strategist for a top-tier GOP candidate. And he could hurt the eventual nominee, the strategist says, if he gets too aggressive in promoting the policies that have driven his job-approval ratings down, such as renewing his call for partial privatization of Social Security or pushing anew for overhauling immigration laws.

—Kenneth T. Walsh