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   Bush's Week Shows the Power of Incumbency

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4/18/2004 12:00 am

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Associated Press

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Analysis

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Entered 4/18/2004, Updated 4/18/2004

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Bush's Week Shows the Power of Incumbency The Honolulu Advertiser Relaxing at his Texas ranch, President Bush stayed out of sight while Iraq grew bloodier and Washington swirled with questions about his pre-Sept. 11 actions. Democrats began to ask where was the president at such a crucial moment. Even Republicans started to worry about Bush's absence. Questions about Iraq and the Sept. 11 attacks could prove troublesome for Bush's re-election campaign. The president's handling of Iraq and the fight against terrorism are central themes of his campaign, and polls show that public confidence in how he has dealt with both has dropped recently. After five quiet nights at his ranch, Bush put himself back in the spotlight as only a president can. Such ability to command attention is an invaluable perk of the presidency - and just one of the tools that no opponent can match. The strategy thrust Bush onto front pages with his argument to stay the course in Iraq and that he did his best in the days leading up to the 2001 attacks. "The greatest single presidential advantage is the ability to set the agenda every day," said Larry Sabato, a University of Virginia political scientist. "It's at a time of his choice and in a form of his choice. Who could beat that?" But sometimes it can backfire....


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