Republicans get their campaign mojo back – and it’s Bush, not Trump


The Bush campaign style is making a comeback.

Democrats should be afraid. Very scared.

Among the messages from Glenn youngkinGlenn YoungkinWarner: Youngkin “stoked the cultural pot” on issues like critical race theory Republicans are getting their campaign mojo back – and it’s Bush, not Trump Kaine: Democrats “blew up the timing” of infrastructure, spending PLUS bills‘s victory in the Virginia governor’s race last week is this: The era of angry, fire-breathing GOP candidates may be over, replaced with a campaign approach Democrats rarely seem to beat. Instead of a rage Donald trumpDonald Trump Israeli officials say US should open consulate for Palestinians in the West Bank Loss of Virginia exposes Democrats’ struggle with rural voters. Democrats suffer election defeat in Virginia MORE, Jim jordanJames (Jim) Daniel Jordan Good Republicans in government could be Democracy’s last hope Madison Cawthorn to join House Freedom Caucus Anti-Trump Republicans target McCarthy, Scalise and other leading Tories MORE, Where Marjorie Taylor GreeneMarjorie Taylor GreeneGOP’s Efforts to Minimize Danger of Increase in Riots on Capitol Hill The Memo: What Now for Anti-Trump Republicans? Representative Marjorie Taylor Greene says she will meet Trump ‘soon’ in Florida MOREThere is the astute candidate with a keen eye for corner questions, camouflaged by persimmons and a calm demeanor.

Think of George Bush – senior and junior.

The two Bushes presented themselves as easy marks that Democrats were eager to challenge. They appeared to many as privileged politicians who could not play hard during the campaign.


In 1988, George HW Bush attempted to do something that no vice president had done since Martin Van Buren: succeed his boss and take the helm of the White House. Democrats were up in the polls, touting Bush and the so-called “weakling factor.”

Then came the “Willie horton“ad. The now infamous ad was about the leave policy of Democratic candidate Governor Michael Dukakis, Massachusetts. Horton, a convicted black murderer, was released through this program, only to commit more violent crimes . The ad was extremely effective racism. “dog whistle”- an indirect message to the unconditional GOP base that Patrician Bush was someone they could support.

Democrats have had no effective response. Dukakis went to great lengths to explain the goals behind his leave effort. But, as Bush’s predecessor Ronald Reagan once said, “If you explain, you lose. “

A key aspect of Bush’s campaign now reverberates through Republicans: Throughout this dazzling contest, Bush’s understated style and image have allowed him to both maintain his suburban appeal and blow his whistles. custom dog.

His son, George W. Bush, followed the family playbook in 2004. His bid for re-election was an uphill battle, with unpopular conflicts still raging in Iraq and Afghanistan. Democrats smelled victory and named Vietnam veteran Sen. John KerryJohn Kerry Thousands protesting to demand climate action at COP26 Overnight Energy & Environment – Presented by the American Petroleum Institute – Ambitions for COP26 may continue to warm to 1.8 degrees Balance / Sustainability – Presented by Delta – Galapagos turtles take on China’s fishing fleet MORE.

Bush had at least one important trump card: Despite his privileged background, he appeared like an ordinary person, someone – as the phrase put it in his 2000 campaign – with whom you could have a beer. This led to the “Sailboard” commercial, which reversed the scenario on its Democratic rival and played with the distrust of the voters towards the candidates with the blue blood. It showed Kerry sailing along the coast, the image of an aristocratic right satisfied with himself, as the voiceover noted how the senator had gleefully changed his mind on key issues.

The ad – much like the Willie Horton spot – has been constantly dissected by television and cable news programs. And the frustrated Democratic candidate has been left to explain.

Even the discreditedFast boatCampaign worked for Bush. The controversial ads have tainted Kerry’s service in Vietnam. But the president’s team neither funded them nor produced them – so Bush was able to denounce effort, maintain its image, and still benefit from the distrust of those commercials created around Kerry.

Trump and his cronies broke with this style. Here, no dog whistle. Nothing subtle or indirect. Restraint was not in their campaign vocabulary – and the commuters eventually ran the other way.

But Youngkin went beyond Trump and reignited the Bush family’s strategy. He is a billionaire banker, a 25-year veteran of elite investment firm Carlyle Group – but campaigned as “Average Joe.” Dressed in fleece and khaki, Youngkin could have been a neighbor you met at Home Depot.

His campaign faltered at first, until he took another page from the Bush manual. Youngkin saw a possible wedge problem in growing hostility towards educational elites, with a touch of racial grievance. He developed the “Beloved” ad, which featured a supposedly middle-class mother frustrated that her son’s school was forcing her to read. Toni Morrison’s self-explanatory novel about the horrors of slavery.

It was again in 1988 and 2004. True to form, cable and broadcast news dutifully examined the controversial ad, giving it the kind of exposure Youngkin could only hope for. And Democrat Terry MacAuliffe had to explain his veto on two parental control bills with a deaf campaign killer: “I don’t think parents should tell schools what they should be teaching.”

Through it all, Youngkin has kept his demeanor approachable and believable. Attempts to paint it with a Trumpian brush failed. Suburban voters appointed him governor-elect.

Youngkin’s victory shows the GOP that anything old can be new again.

They can maintain their base with dexterous nods in their direction while burying the fury-filled political style that has put off swing voters and independents.

And the Democrats? Well their only candidate to face Bush’s strategy and win a big election was Bill clintonWilliam (Bill) Jefferson Clinton Unelected staff who elect “president” Voters oppose Joe Manchin infrastructure hostage and blue-collar exodus MORE – a man even his sworn enemy Ken starr To called “The most gifted politician of the baby boomer generation”.

No problem: Democrats have about 12 months to quickly find a lot of people like him.

It’s time to be afraid: Yes, very afraid.

Joe Ferullo is an award-winning media executive, producer and reporter and former executive vice president of programming for CBS Television Distribution. He was news director for NBC, writer-producer for “Dateline NBC” and worked for ABC News. Follow him on twitter @ ironworker1.

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