Running Away from the Chimp

From Holden:

It’s all the rage. Take the Chairwoman of the House Republican Conference, Congresswoman Deborah Pryce of Ohio.

In 2004, her campaign Web site featured a banner of her and Bush sitting together, smiling. But in her latest television ad, Pryce is described as “independent.” The spot also highlights how she “stood up to her own party” and the president to support increased federal funds for embryonic stem-cell research.

Other examples abound.

_In Pennsylvania, Republican Congressman Jim Gerlach tells voters: “When I believe President Bush is right, I’m behind him. But when I think he’s wrong, I let him know that, too,” Gerlach is in a close contest with Democrat Lois Murphy, who nearly beat him in 2004.

_In Minnesota, where an open Senate seat is at stake, Republican Congressman Mark Kennedy has an ad titled, “Crossing Party Lines,” in which he says: “I’m a Republican. On issues like taxes and spending, I vote like it. But on other issues, I cross party lines.” In 2002, in his run for the House, a Kennedy ad showed him walking and shaking hands with Bush at the White House. Today, he lists the issues on which he has split from the president.

_In South Florida, heavily populated by retirees, Republican Rep. Clay Shaw criticizes the president’s stalled plans to change the Social Security pension program and says in his ad, “I represent the state of Florida, not a political party.”


In Pennsylvania, Republican Senator Rick Santorum, No. 3 in the Republican Senate leadership, has stood with the president on scores of issues, from abortion to same-sex marriage to taxes. Trailing his Democratic challenger Bob Casey in the polls, Santorum brags about breaking with the administration on spending on the country’s Amtrak passenger train service.

“And the White House probably called me a lot of things when I fought their efforts to cut Amtrak funding,” Santorum says.

Another vulnerable Senate incumbent, Ohio Republican Mike DeWine, has welcomed the president for two events that raised $2 million . Yet his ads have touted his independence and ability to work with Democrats

UPDATE: John at AMERICAblog adds Maryland’s Governor and Lieutenant Governor to the list.

President Bush swooped into Southern Maryland yesterday to mark Labor Day with a call to reduce the United States’ dependence on foreign oil and develop technologies to help American workers and businesses compete in the changing global marketplace.

Bush heralded the 4.7 percent national unemployment rate as a “good sign” for workers in a speech centered on the domestic economy. The president, speaking at the Paul Hall Center for Maritime Training and Education in Piney Point, also urged lawmakers to make his tax cuts permanent.

But on a day considered the launching point of the fall election season, Maryland’s top two Republicans — Gov. Robert L. Ehrlich and Lt. Gov. Michael S. Steele — did not appear with the president in the St. Mary’s County town. Their absence quickly became political fodder for Democrats, who accused the Republican officeholders of dodging the unpopular president even as they allow him to raise money for Ehrlich’s bid for reelection and Steele’s campaign for the U.S. Senate.