President Bush Stumps for a Republican Congress

President Bush is on the campaign trail, stumping for Republican candidates a week before midterm congressional elections. He visits Georgia and Texas on Monday, before going west later in the week.

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ALEX CHADWICK, host:

This is DAY TO DAY. I'm Alex Chadwick.

MADELEINE BRAND, host:

I'm Madeleine Brand. In a moment, a quick check on three races to watch in next week's election.

CHADWICK: First, what is the White House doing? President Bush is very actively campaigning right up until next Tuesday and you can understand a lot by looking at his travel itinerary.

going to Georgia and Texas today. What is the attraction for Mr. Bush to go to these particular states?

RON ELVING: Just good southern cooking, Alex. The president's in search of a good meal. No, there are House seats in these states and House seats are the big focus right now for the White House, because they're trying to hold control of the House and that seems to be the main place where the Democrats are making their thrust.

There are two seats in Georgia - one in east Georgia, one in central Georgia -represented by a couple of young members, Democrats, who've been on the endangered list all year - John Barrow and Jim Marshall. They're both being opposed by former members of Congress - Republicans attempting a comeback. And these are probably the two best chances that the Republicans have for a take-back, for a take-away from the Democrats in the whole country.

And then tonight, the president is also going to be in Sugar Land, Texas, which is in the suburbs outside of Houston and it's the former House majority leader Tom DeLay's district. It's the home of Tom DeLay.

CHADWICK: Well, that's one they'd want to keep.

ELVING: He is obviously not running for re-election. Of course, he's waiting to face charges of campaign money laundering in a Texas Court. But he has a replacement who will be a write-in candidate on the ballot, and she needs a lot of help and attention and boost.

President Bush won this district in 2004 by nearly 30 points so he can give her a lot of name recognition and help people encourage people to go to the polls and actually write-in her name, Shelley Sekula-Gibbs.

CHADWICK: Okay. Now, and we'll just go on a little bit more on the itinerary here. Nevada and Montana later this week. How about there?

ELVING: Well, there are Senate races there, but there's no suspense really in Nevada. John Ensign will be re-elected there without too much trouble. It's a pretty tough case. On the other hand, there is some tension there, revolving around the governor's race and one of the House seats.

And in Montana, we've got most of the national media, thinking that Conrad Burns - the three-term incumbent Republican Senator in Montana - is kind of beyond saving in the big sky country. He's trailing Democratic challenger Jon Tester in all the polls that I've seen. But the president's going to go up there and make one last crack at trying to help Conrad Burns survive.

CHADWICK: So these are not the races that people keep writing about. You know the real decision races, the Senate races that might go either way - Virginia, I'm speaking of, Tennessee, a couple of others - this is not where he's going. But you were explaining Karl Rove's brilliant strategy to me a moment before the program began.

ELVING: Well, the president may go to Missouri, later this week. And there's always a chance he might try to go into Tennessee and Virginia as well. Nothing announced in terms of that, but there are some dark spaces on his schedule -Wednesday and Friday. These are all Republican seats now. And one thing that's pretty clear is the president won't be heading for New Jersey or Maryland, which are the other two really close Senate races where Democrats currently hold the seat.

I think the feeling is that the Republicans feel they can still have a chance in New Jersey and Maryland but they don't want to press their luck with George Bush because he brings thoughts of the Iraq war. And the Democrats are running against Bush and they see him in the Iraq war together.

to defend these southern Republican Senate seats, and we're going to talk about other issues. We've got terrorism to talk about and taxes to talk about, and we'll try to de-emphasize Iraq a little bit. And that may work in red states, such as those three - Missouri, Virginia, and Tennessee - whereas, it's not going to work in New Jersey and Maryland.

CHADWICK: And Mr. Bush is going to be campaigning in places that like him a lot. So the television pictures are going to be of president's standing up in front of a crowds that are cheering and hurrahing and very, very pleased to see him.

ELVING: Indeed, as they were over the weekend as the president campaigned in a very Republican area of Indiana where he turned out big crowds. The president is the main figure in our politics. He has to play, with a week to go in a highly-important, crucial midterm election. He just has to find the places

CHADWICK: But he's just not out on those front lines - those big important states, or maybe he is but not yet anyway.

ELVING: He is out there doing good things in the places where, according to Karl Rove's strategy, he can help the most, and so for them, those are the frontlines.

CHADWICK: Ron Elving, NPR senior Washington editor. Ron, thanks for joining us again.

ELVING: Thank you, Alex.

(Soundbite of music)

CHADWICK: And there's more coming up on DAY TO DAY from NPR News.

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