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Campaign Profile:  George Bush


President Bush has a distinct advantage in the 2004 race for the White House. He does not have to fight for the Republican Party's nomination, and he has all the advantages of incumbency.

These are the images fresh in the minds of American voters as the nation enters an election year.

The president's surprise visit to U.S. troops in Baghdad.

"I bring a message on behalf of America. We thank you for your service. We are proud of you. And America stands solidly behind you," he said.

The capture of Saddam Hussein.

"Ladies and gentlemen, we got him," said the president's chief administrator in Iraq, Paul Bremer.

And an unexpected move toward a more peaceful world.

"Today in Tripoli, the leader of Libya, Colonel Moammar al-Gadhafi, publicly confirmed his commitment to disclose and dismantle all weapons of mass destruction programs in his country," the president said.

While the candidates for the Democratic Party's presidential nomination were vying for political position, President Bush was able to make his case to American voters simply by doing his job and keeping his accomplishments before the public, particularly in the area of foreign policy.

Political scientist Jack Pitney says that is a big change from the 2000 campaign, when George W. Bush, then the governor of the state of Texas, made his first bid for the White House.

"During the 2000 campaign, George W. Bush ran as a 'compassionate conservative' and he emphasized domestic issues as part of that platform," said mr. Pitney. "I do not think very many people would have predicted George W. Bush would be primarily a foreign policy and national security president. But that is the role fate has laid out for him."

President Bush came to office after a Supreme Court ruling, in essence, decided the outcome of one of the most controversial elections in American history. The nation was split and politically exhausted and there were questions about the validity of his presidency. All that changed with the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001.

America was still in shock and mourning when the president went to the site of New York's downed World Trade Center. Standing amidst piles of twisted metal and broken concrete, he held a bullhorn to his face and brought cheers from rescue workers searching for life amidst the rubble.

"I can hear you," he announced. "The rest of the world hears you. And the people who knocked these buildings down will hear all of us soon."

The war on terrorism came to define his presidency and a new Bush doctrine of foreign policy emerged - a policy of taking action against emerging threats. First, American soldiers went after terrorists in Afghanistan and the Taliban regime that supported them. Then, on March 19, 2003, U.S. and allied troops launched military operations in Iraq.

"On my orders, coalition forces have begun striking selected targets of military importance to undermine Saddam Hussein's ability to wage war," said Mr. Bush. "There are opening stages of what will be a broad and concerted campaign." The capture of the ousted Iraqi leader in late 2003 gave a boost to the president's support in public opinion polls.

But presidential historian Robert Dallek says Iraq could create problems for the Bush re-election campaign. He told CBS News that if the violence drags on, Americans could lose patience with the high cost of the war in terms of cash and casualties.

"I am not an isolationist or a unilateralist," said Mr. Dallek. "But I think we really have to think about the needs of this country first and how are we going to cope with this situation in Iraq. And if they can not come to terms with that, that could be a death knell for their administration."

But Jack Pitney argues that George W. Bush learned a very bitter lesson in 1992, when his own father lost a bid for re-election as president. Mr. Pitney, a professor at California's Claremont-McKenna College, says he came to realize that an emphasis on national security should not detract attention from domestic affairs.

"The big lesson he drew from the defeat of 1992 is that even if you are a president who focuses on international relations, you can not be seen to neglect domestic policy," he explained. "Critics of the first President Bush said that he did not pay attention to "middle America," that he did not pay enough attention to the economy. That is a mistake that the second President Bush is determined not to make."

George W. Bush emphasized both themes as he traveled the country in 2003 raising money for his re-election campaign, stressing the need to protect both national security and the national economy. At these events, he gave some clues as to the type of campaign he will wage in the months ahead, one that, for want of a better term, might be called "presidential."

"I want you to know that I am, I am getting ready for the campaign," said Mr. Bush. "I am loosening up. But politics is going to come in its own time. See, I have got a job to do. I am focusing on the people's business." In January 2001, for the second time in the nation's history, the son of a former president of the United States assumed the highest office in the land. The first to accomplish that feat was John Quincy Adams in 1825. But he served only one term in office. George W. Bush is aiming for two.

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