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Christine Todd Whitman, the Republican Zell Miller?

Blogger Patrick Ruffini comments on the release of It’s My Party Too: The Battle for the Heart of the GOP and the Future of America, by former New Jersey Governor Christine Todd Whitman.

In her book, Whitman essentially argues that the Bush administration won reelection at the expense of the long-term health of the GOP. Whitman seems to reserve a particular disdain for "the architect," writing,

"The Karl Rove strategy to focus so rigorously on the narrow conservative base won the day, but we must ask at what price to governing and at what risk to the future of the party."


Ruffini notes six dimensions of how Bush's reelection stacked up against Whitman's 1997 reelection as New Jersey Governor:

1. Growth of support:

"Bush was the first Presidential candidate since 1988 to win more than 50% of the vote, smashing Ronald Reagan’s popular vote record by nearly 8 million votes, and increasing his total vote by 20% from 2000. In winning re-election, the President’s support surged among the most Democratic-leaning groups: women, Hispanics, African Americans, Jewish voters, citizens of the Northeast.

Whitman faced an unexpectedly close re-election race, receiving fewer votes than when she was first elected. She is the only Governor in modern New Jersey history never to have won more than 50% of the vote."

62+ million votes, a record number of Americans to vote for any individual in a single election, is everything Whitman needs to know about winning elections.

2. Beating expectations:

"For most of Bush’s re-election year, the majority of the press corps expected him to lose. – especially if turnout exceeded 120 million. On Election Day, 122 million Americans voted, and Bush beat expectations with a solid 3 million popular vote majority.

For most of Whitman’s re-election year, she was considered the prohibitive favorite, leading by up to 30 points. But by Election Day, she was in a dead-heat with a little known, tax-hiking mayor named Jim McGreevey, and won by less than a point."

One wonders if Whitman is "misunderestimating" Bush yet again.

3. A Party of Inclusion:

"When Bush was re-elected, his percentage of African American votes went up.

When Whitman was re-elected, her percentage of African American votes went down."

President Bush has the most diverse cabinet in American history, including several individuals with Horatio Alger-type stories. Bush expanded his numbers profoundly among Latinos and other groups traditionally not part of the Republican coalition.

4. Values:

"Bush was forceful in advancing a values agenda, and effectively put John Kerry on the defensive on abortion and gay marriage. He won handily.

Whitman enraged the Republican base by vetoing a ban on partial birth abortion, spurring serious Libertarian and Conservative candidacies that took a combined 6 percent of the vote. She barely survived."

President Bush learned a lesson from his father's 1992 candidacy: secure the base, first. Free market societies produce great change, powerful progress. When people feel the times are moving a little too rapidly for them, they want a party to gently pull the brakes, just enough to keep society from careering off the road. President Bush understands this. Furthermore, even among gays, the President's numbers did not fall off significantly from 2000 to 2004.

5. Campaign Finance:

"In 2004, Bush and Republicans were outspent by $113 million and won anyway.

In 1997, Whitman outspent McGreevey, with the DNC thinking it would be such a blowout that it stayed out of the state. Whitman barely scraped by."

Adding the hundreds of millions of dollars Democrats spent during their exhaustively drawn-out primaries, a time during which candidates rarely attacked one another but persistently, and with great unity, attacked President Bush, the President was outspent by far more than $113 million. WILLisms.com will comment on money in the 2004 race in the near future.

6. Party Building:

"Under Bush, Republicans regained control of the Senate, unheard of for an incumbent party in a midterm election. In 2004, Republicans gained four seats in the Senate and three seats in the House. Today, there are more Republicans on Capitol Hill than at any time since the 1920s.

During the Whitman era, Republicans blew a once insurmountable lead in the New Jersey legislature – making no headway in her re-election year, losing three seats in her final midterm, and finally losing control in 2001."

President Bush's coattails are the most powerful since FDR. Meanwhile, just look at Whitman's New Jersey, a state practically off the table for Republicans in statewide and federal elections.

Ruffini asks, rhetorically,

"You’ve seen the record. Now, who do you trust when it comes to growing the GOP?"

WILLisms.com understands that the Republican Party is growing, and an agenda full of reform-minded initiatives over the next few years and beyond, coupled with demographic trends, will solidify a legacy of free-market Republican dominance for possibly decades.

One wonders if Whitman wrote most of her book prior to November, expecting the President to lose, so she could swoop in and claim that she knew what direction to take the GOP. When Bush won, one wonders if Whitman had to go back and edit the book to be less embarrassing to her.

Almost assuredly, Whitman will receive glowing treatment from much of the media establishment. "Moderates" are the darlings of the news, particularly when they are critics of the Bush administration.

Posted by Will Franklin · 27 January 2005 09:09 PM