Running Away from Bush

From Holden:

The only hope for some embattled Republikkkans seems to lie in cutting all ties with the Chimpster.

President Bush goes to Pennsylvania tomorrow to campaign for embattled Republican House members in the Philadelphia suburbs. But one of the candidates isn’t expected to be there.

Mr. Bush “is really doing poorly in our state,” says Rep. Curt Weldon, explaining why he won’t be on hand and hasn’t asked for the president’s help. “I’ve got to win this by myself.”


At a Friday fund-raiser for one embattled Republican lawmaker, freshman Rep. Geoff Davis of Kentucky, Mr. Bush even joked about his shrinking political range: Mr. Davis “really wanted Laura” to appear, Mr. Bush said, to laughter from a roomful of northern Kentucky donors. “He said, ‘You stay at home, Mr. President. Yes, next time.’ Unfortunately, she was tied up.”


Mr. Bush will hold a fund-raiser tomorrow for two at-risk Republican House members in the Philadelphia suburbs, Reps. Mike Fitzpatrick and Jim Gerlach. Both are running in districts where Mr. Bush’s 2004 opponent, John Kerry, took 51% of the vote.

But the third Republican in the area, Mr. Weldon, whose district was even friendlier to Mr. Kerry, won’t benefit from the event and isn’t expected to show up. Instead, Mr. Weldon relied on Mr. McCain to help campaign and raise money.

One local paper in suburban Delaware County quoted Mr. Weldon suggesting that he is running from Mr. Bush, saying, “What am I supposed to do?”

Mr. Weldon explains in a subsequent interview that he is “not really running away from the president.” But with Mr. Bush’s poll numbers so low, he says, “there’s nothing the president can do to help me.”

At a recent White House bill-signing ceremony, Mr. Weldon says, the president pulled him aside in an anteroom and said he understood that Mr. Weldon had a difficult race this year. “Just be happy I’m not at the top of the ticket,” the president joked, according to Mr. Weldon.

Democrats, of course, are doing their best to turn the 2006 election into a referendum on Mr. Bush. Mr. Weldon’s opponent, Joe Sestak, a retired Navy vice admiral, hammers the point that Mr. Weldon is trying to duck his connections to Mr. Bush. “Curt Weldon is worried,” Mr. Sestak says. “That’s why he’s trying to manufacture a separate life, and it won’t hold.”