Dan Froomkin’s White House Briefing is excellent today. Go read it yourself, or if you don’t want to register with WaPo here are a few highlights:
On Georgie’s brief chat with reporters in Air Force One after the third debate:
The last time President Bush ventured into the rear cabin of Air Force One to reassure the press pool that everything was okay was on Sept. 11, 2001.
Yesterday’s five-minute visit on a flight from Phoenix to Las Vegas came after three widely panned debate performances that have arguably given Democratic challenger John F. Kerry the momentum going into the final weeks of the campaign.
So it was time for spin from the highest level.
Bush insisted he is unworried. “I feel great about where we are,” he said.
But his very appearance was interpreted by reporters as a sign of how eager — possibly even desperate — Bush is to put the debate phase of the campaign behind him.
On the Bush Campaign’s strategy here on out:
“Bush has effectively ended his direct appeal to swing voters, his aides say, and will spend the next 19 days speaking to his hard-core supporters. He will remind them to vote, work hard and get excited.”
On the Bush’s odd chuckling:
And [Mark Leibovich of The Washington Post] notes an odd, and possibly more frequent, Bush tick: “Bush sometimes punctuates his sentences with quick cackles, even when he hasn’t said anything funny. He did this more than usual Thursday, giggling, for instance, upon mention that Nevada has a 4 percent unemployment rate.
” ‘I’m proud of my record, heh heh heh,’ he says. ‘But my opponent seemed to want to avoid talking about his, heh heh heh heh.’ “
Yesterday’s campaing stop in Oregon:
“Police in riot gear fired pepperballs Thursday night to disperse a crowd of protesters assembled in this historic gold mining town where President Bush was spending the night after a campaign appearance.”
Also in Oregon:
“President Bush taught three Oregon schoolteachers a new lesson in irony — or tragedy — Thursday night when his campaign removed them from a Bush speech and threatened them with arrest simply for wearing t-shirts that said ‘Protect Our Civil Liberties,’ the Democratic Party of Oregon reported.
“All three said they applied for and received valid tickets from Republican headquarters in Medford.