Bush in Sarasota by Mitch E. Perry


President Bush was in Sarasota this afternoon, the first time he’s been in the West Coast Florida city since 9/11. The President was at Booker Elementary School in Sarasota when he was first informed that the World Trade Center had been attacked.

The President was never more popular than in the immediate aftermath of the attacks – but that was 5 long years ago. Today he appeared in a campaign fundraiser for GOP Congressional candidate Vern Buchanan, who is in serious trouble in his race against Democrat Christine Jennings, in the seat vacated by Katherine Harris as she runs for US Senate.. With polls showing the Democrats have an increasing chance of taking the White House, the President said it’s a little premature for Democrats to be ‘measuring the drapes “ in Congress (roll tape#1 o.q.�the republicans�)

If Bush were up for re-election in the Sunshine State, he too might be in trouble. A Quinnipiac Poll taken 2 weeks ago shows by a 59 to 37 percent margin, Florida voters disapprove of the job Bush is doing.

Bob Buckhorn is a former Tampa City Council member and an analyst for Bay News 9, the all news station in the Tampa Bay Area. He says that Bush is no longer an attractive campaigner for many candidates (roll tape#1 o.q.�election season�)

Susan McManus is a professor of Political Science at the University of South Florida. She says that no doubt the President’s coat tails are shorter with the increasing disdain for the Iraq war, but says that nobody in the Republican Party can rally the base like George W. Bush (roll tape #2 o.q.�mechanism by Republicans�)

After his appearance in Sarasota, Bush then attended a $25,000-a-head fund-raiser for the Republican National Committee late this afternoon at the Boca Raton home of advertising executive Jordan Zimmerman and his wife, Denise.

Although new polls daily project election night to be perhaps a very special night for Democrats nationally, President Bush and his top political strategist, Karl Rove, continue to say publicly that they are confident about the mid-term elections.

Whether that’s false bravado or not will be answered in two weeks. But Florida Democrats were somewhat stunned 2 years ago, when out of state activist group like American Coming Together and MoveOn.Org, were no match for the get out of the vote effort put together by indigenous Florida GOP officials.

University of South Florida Political Science Professor, Susan McManus says historically, and even as recent as last month’s primary election in Florida, the GOP gets their voters to the polls more reliably than Democrats. But now perhaps due to a new poll that shows the Democratic gubernatorial candidate, Jim Davis, in a statistical tie, that model could be upended next month (roll tape#3 o.q.�that’s what they’re hoping for�)

Vern Buchanon’s camp admitted last week that there OWN internal polls show him trailing Christine Jennings, so last week, he lent his campaign another $800,000, bringing the total he has given to his campaign to $4.5 million dollars, tying the state record for funds expended in a Congressional race, with 2 full weeks to go.

Tonight Christine Jennings, demonstrating that her support goes beyond Democrats in a district that has been solidly Republican, is meeting with local Republicans at the Bijou restaurant in Sarasota. Joining her will be the group Republicans for Jennings, and North Florida Democratic Congressman Alan Boyd, co-chair of the Blue Dog Coalition in Congress.

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