Heads up Floridians
- Subject: Heads up Floridians
- From: Margaret Davis <margd@FLASH.NET>
- Date: Mon, 4 Feb 2002 13:07:28 -0600
- Reply-to: Assessment Reform Network Mailing List <ARN-L@LISTS.CUA.EDU>
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Brothers Bush Already in Full Campaign Mode
Thought you might have missed this article regarding the Bush Brother Banana Republics stampede on your fine state......
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February 4, 2002
WHITE HOUSE LETTER
Brothers Bush Already in Full Campaign Mode
By ELISABETH BUMILLER
t's that time of year again when Americans like to fly to the warm beaches of Florida to see parents, grandparents and other relatives with nice condominiums. Among such eager travelers is the president of the United States, who enjoys frequent trips to see his brother the governor, Jeb Bush.
"I'm really happy to visit Florida," President Bush said in Orlando recently. "The weather's beautiful. There's a lot of interesting things to do here. I recommend people from outside of Florida to come and take a look at Florida. It's a nice place to visit and a great place to live. One reason why is because you've got a great governor. I'm not very objective!"
The president will be taking more of his own advice tomorrow, when he visits Eglin Air Force Base in the Panhandle. He was most recently in the state last Thursday, in Volusia County, which he lost in Florida's 2000 presidential melodrama to Al Gore. Mr. Bush was in Florida in December, too, in Orange County, which he also lost to Mr. Gore.
By Monday, Mr. Bush will have been to Florida seven times as president. The only other state he has visited more often as president is Pennsylvania — eight times — which he lost by five percentage points to Mr. Gore.
Of course, Mr. Bush's trips to Florida offer more than just the sight of a White House already waging the 2004 presidential campaign in a state that many Democrats still say the president lost the first time around. The trips also offer the spectacle of fraternal politics, jocular affection and the suppressed rivalry of two siblings whose political fortunes are now inextricably linked.
Jeb was the thoughtful, workaholic sibling who was the family's hope for president until the wisecracking, happy-go-lucky George came along in 1994 and surprised even his mother by upsetting Gov. Ann Richards of Texas. Jeb lost the same year by two percentage points to Gov. Lawton Chiles of Florida, the closest governor's race in the state's history. Although Jeb came back to easily beat Buddy MacKay in 1998, by then George was the Bush in line for the White House.
Now there are two re-elections at stake: Jeb's in November and George's in 2004. So far, of course, neither Bush is facing a tough fight. George has some of the highest approval ratings in modern American history, while Jeb's main Democratic rival, former Attorney General Janet Reno, fainted while giving a speech last week, eliciting sympathy from her governor. "I've also worked too hard, harder than I should," Jeb magnanimously said. "And I imagine she had a long day and was tired and collapsed."
Still, Jeb needs George for re-election, just as George needs Jeb to help secure the state by more than the official 537-vote margin of victory he got in 2000. President Bush's first appearance at a fund-raiser since Sept. 11 was last month on behalf of his brother, just blocks from the White House. The president, whom Republicans are calling the biggest draw in political fund-raising history, told the crowd that his brother was "a deeply compassionate man, but he's plenty tough."
"Just ask the crooks of Florida," the president said.
Brotherly events continued apace last week, even though White House advisers initially said that Jeb would not surface for the president's trip to Daytona Beach to promote the Bush administration's volunteer programs. But there the two brothers were in the limousine on the ride from the president's seaside hotel to the Volusia County Fire Services Center. There Jeb was on the firehouse stage, beaming about his brother, "the president of the United States."
The joint appearance came only two days after the arrest of Jeb's daughter, Noelle, 24, on charges of prescription fraud after the police said that she illegally tried to obtain the antianxiety drug Xanax from a drugstore in the small hours of the morning. To no one's surprise, not a word was uttered publicly between the two brothers about the incident. But any questions there might have been about the president's willingness to stand by Jeb were not even asked.
Jeb has been there for George, too, although here the brotherly narrative gets more complicated. After enduring complaints from some Republicans that he had not worked hard enough for his brother's presidential campaign in Florida, Jeb made his most noticeable appearance on the weekend before Election Day, to defend George against a drunken driving arrest in 1976.
"Twenty four years ago, my brother was a different person," Jeb said then on Fox News. "He wasn't ready to be president." Since then, he assured voters, he has "transformed himself." One of Jeb's other noticeable moments in that race came in September, when he told The St. Petersburg Times that he was mindful of how he helped his brother, "because of the comparisons, that might not help George in some cases."
By the day after Election Day, Jeb had become a sleep-deprived bundle of nerves as he confronted once again the talk that he resented his brother's success. He recounted, to a packed news conference in Tallahassee, a roller coaster election night when he apologized to his brother for losing Florida, or so he then thought.
"It was one of the most amazing and emotionally intense evenings of my life," he said.
For 2004, the Bush brothers are working hard to turn in early.
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