Bush Loses Evangelical Trail On Way to the Border

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President Bush is having a difficult time reaching out to his evangelical base, says NPR Senior News Analyst Daniel Schorr. And these days, it's no more apparent than on the issue of immigration.

DANIEL SCHORR reporting:

Base, as in home base, refers to that solid core of ideological supporters who will stick with you through electoral thick and thin as long as you advance their principals.

MICHELE NORRIS: NPR senior news analyst Daniel Schorr.

SCHORR: Something seems to have gone awry between President Bush and the right judging by a recent Gallop poll that shows conservative support, which was around 80 percent for many years, is now down to 50 percent. In what appears to be an effort to mollify that base, the president is trying to navigate between pro-immigrants in the streets and anti-immigrants in meetings, offering to deploy the National Guard on the border, but only for limited purposes.

White House advisor Karl Rove in his speech today responded to criticism of the president's guest worker program. Rover said, this is about getting the right policy and the politics will take care of themselves.

At the same time, the administration is trying to shift attention to consensus Republican issues like tax cuts and judicial nominations, but on several issues, the split in Congress is transparent. House Speaker Dennis Hastert called the Senate-passed $105 billion War Spending Bill over budget and dead on arrival.

On the other hand, Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist called General Michael Hayden the ideal man for CIA director while Hastert opposed having a military man in the job.

There has been open criticism of the Bush administration among influential Bush backers demanding support from Congress on issues like same sex marriage, obscenity, and abortion. An influential conservative, Dr. James Dobson, the head of the Focus on the Family organization, has told The New York Times that he might turn critic of the administration unless the party delivers on its conservative goals.

At this point the thunder from the right seems to be mainly admonitory, but there was a time when Evangelicals shunned the ballot box and if that happened again, it would change the face of American politics.

This is Daniel Schorr.

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