Friends, Advisers Offer Bush Tips Going Into The Second Debate
White House officials said they have been swamped with letters and emails from supporters offering President Bush tips on how to take on Sen. John Kerry in the second presidential debate. "Everybody's got an idea," one official told US News Bulletin. Most, however, have not made it to Bush or chief adviser Karl Rove, who is sticking with his original game plan to use the debate to highlight the differences with Kerry on the war and on domestic policy. Many of the suggestions deal with domestic policy. For example, one Bush friend said that he called on the President to offer up new economic incentives to Americans. His idea: Bring back the tax deduction for credit card interest payments. He suggested this tactic: During the debate, Bush should ask Kerry which credit cards he carries and what the interest rates on each are. The presumption is that Kerry wouldn't know and would simply say he pays the cards off every month. That, said the Bush family friend, would help the President to portray Kerry as out of touch with most Americans. "Only rich people can pay the cards off early," he said. A White House official, however, said that the administration doesn't plan to push that idea.
Kerry Aides Say He'll Focus On Job Losses, Iraq War, Lack Of WMD.
Kerry aides, said CNN, told reporters yesterday that even though the debate "will be focusing on domestic issues, they expect that he'll continue to go after President Bush on the issue of Iraq." USA Today, meanwhile, reports Kerry aide Joe Lockhart and strategist Mike Donilon "previewed what Kerry is expected to emphasize tonight: Regardless of what new job numbers show Friday, Bush will be the first president in 72 years to preside over a net loss of jobs. Former administrator Paul Bremer's comments about not having had enough troops to secure the country and a new report that found Iraq destroyed its weapons of mass destruction shortly after the 1991 Gulf War."
"Bush Advisers" Say Debate Performance A Consequence Of His Isolation From Press.
The Washington Post today reports that "several Bush advisers," who are not quoted in the story, "said the president may well pay a price for his decision to remain isolated from tough or unexpected questions when he faces Sen. John F. Kerry (D-Mass.), whose events are notably less scripted, in a town-hall-style debate tonight at Washington University in St. Louis. The questions are likely to be tougher than those he faced when he taped an interview about parenting for 'The Dr. Phil Show' this summer." The debates "have brought new scrutiny to Bush by tens of millions of people who are accustomed to seeing him only in brief clips or formal settings." Bush "has granted three interviews in the past five weeks, to conservative Bill O'Reilly of Fox News, the Manchester (N.H.) Union Leader and WMUR-TV in New Hampshire." He "has held 15 solo news conferences since taking office. At the same point in their presidencies, according to research by Martha Joynt Kumar of Towson University in Maryland, Bill Clinton had held 42; George H.W. Bush, 83; Ronald Reagan, 26 in his first term; Jimmy Carter, 59; Gerald R. Ford, 39; Richard M. Nixon, 29 in his first term; Lyndon B. Johnson, 88; John F. Kennedy, 65; and Eisenhower, 94."
Media Fed Up With Debate Spin Doctors.
Reporters are grumbling and their complaints are rising about the spin patrols that have become a dominant part of the post-debate atmosphere. Immediately following the debates, hordes of partisans from both camps those of John Kerry and President Bush, and this week John Edwards and Dick Cheney have taken to making the rounds of the huge media filing centers at the debate sites peddling their pre-cooked and partisan comments. Very little of what they offer is other than boiler-plate, and many reporters are now asking what is the purpose of even listening to the partisans when they don't make any news. Another concern is that reporters in the auditoriums have little sense of how everyday American families are reacting to the debates. They get many of their assessments from fellow reporters and pundits who are acknowledged not to be the most reliable gauges of the reactions and opinions of ordinary people.