Republicans Jumping Ship?
by Scott Shields, Fri Mar 24, 2006 at 07:04:01 AM EST
This morning, AP writer Tom Raum noticed something I wrote about here a month ago. Republican candidates love the money President Bush can help them raise, but they sure aren't fond of being seen with the guy in public. When I first brought it up, I was talking about Republican Governors. Call this the Senate edition.
Many worried Republicans on the ballot in November have been pushing away from the White House, not wanting to be dragged under by President Bush's sinking approval ratings and growing anxiety over Iraq.
That doesn't mean they're also fleeing his cash offerings, however.
Despite approval ratings in the mid-to-upper 30s, Bush remains the nation's most successful fundraiser. Vice President Dick Cheney, whose poll numbers are even lower than Bush's, is not far behind. Both have raised tens of millions of dollars for GOP congressional and gubernatorial candidates running in this year's midterm elections.
Even as some Republicans are becoming increasingly defiant on a range of issues, they're still lining up dutifully for the president's campaign dollars.
The examples Raum gives are hilarious. Maryland Senate candidate Michael Steele appeared with Bush at an event that took in $500,000 after being a no-show at a Bush speech at the Naval Academy. It was a similar story for Minnesota Senate candidate Mark Kennedy. New Jersey Senate candidate Tom Kean Jr showed up late to a $400,000 fundraiser after Dick Cheney had already left, laughably blaming a traffic tie-up.
And he's not the only political writer who's noticed the trend. Steve Goldstein of The Philadelphia Inquirer catches Pennsylvania Senator Rick Santorum trying to run from the President's shadow publicly while accepting millions at country club fundraisers with Bush in private. The Wall Street Journal's Washington Wire calls out Mark Kennedy and Steele, as well as Ohio Senator Mike DeWine, for publicly running away from Bush.
This is, of course, par for the political course. But it's still funny to watch the Republicans squirm. No matter how much they may want to distance themselves from Bush in the media, they're completely beholden to him and his money. Much in the same way McCain publicly criticizes Bush and then goes along with the White House agenda, this is all kabuki. Republicans aren't really jumping ship. They're 100% behind the guy running the ship headlong into an iceberg.