Sunday, August 29, 2004

The N YTimes > Campaign 2004 > Bush Takes On Direct Role in Shaping Election Tactics

The New York Times > Washington > Campaign 2004 > Bush Takes On Direct Role in Shaping Election Tactics:
"President Bush will accept his party's nomination in New York this week on the crest of a campaign that aides say reflects an unusual level of involvement from the president himself, particularly in driving attacks on Senator John Kerry that have characterized his re-election effort since the spring.

Several aides said Mr. Bush viewed this as the campaign of his life and had intervened on matters as large as the themes it should strike and as small as particular shots of him in his television advertisements. While making sure Mr. Kerry is challenged at every opening, they said, the single most consuming concern for Mr. Bush is that there is an elaborate get-out-the-vote operation in November in anticipation of a contest as tight as the one in 2000. "

Mr. Bush, in an interview in New Mexico last week, was careful to present himself as above his campaign, saying he was busy dealing with the problems of the country.…

Still, aides say that while Karl Rove continues to dominate the campaign as the top White House political adviser, the president's involvement and interest is far deeper than is widely known. [Page 24.] Mixed in with the updates on national security by Condoleezza Rice, the national security adviser, and Vice President Dick Cheney that Mr. Bush receives in his daily Oval Office morning briefings is a quick campaign overview from Mr. Rove.

Mr. Bush's role in his own campaign was described in extensive interviews with aides and party leaders as Republicans gathered in New York to nominate Mr. Bush for a second term. They arrived buoyed by three new polls suggesting Mr. Bush's standing had improved at least somewhat against Mr. Kerry.

Democrats contend that any damage to Mr. Kerry's popularity was caused by unsubstantiated claims by veterans disputing his Vietnam combat medals and that Mr. Bush will ultimately be hurt by their accusation that his campaign was secretly orchestrating the veterans' attacks.

Beyond the involvement of the president himself, aides say the strategy that has brought Mr. Bush to this point is quietly being directed not from the Oval Office, or even his campaign headquarters, but by what his inner circle privately calls the Breakfast Club: a small group of advisers who gather on weekends at Mr. Rove's home in northwest Washington, where, over eggs and bacon cooked by Mr. Rove, they measure the campaign's progress against a detailed plan devised 18 months ago.
con·cept: The N YTimes > Campaign 2004 > Bush Takes On Direct Role in Shaping Election Tactics