“After the Olympic opening, when Daschle and the DNC saw Bush’s numbers spike again, Daschle just threw a fit,” says a Democratic leadership aide. “They are going negative big time for the next few weeks. They are looking to pick a fight.”
Daschle, appearing on PBS’s “NewsHour With Jim Lehrer,” was asked if the White House had consulted with him about its plans to extend the war on terror. “There have not been any preliminary conversations about this?” Lehrer asked. “There have not, no,” Daschle replied.
But in fact, Daschle has received at least three briefings on the matter in the White House, according to several White House aides, including one who was present for one of the briefings. “He was there. Maybe he wasn’t paying attention. Given what happened in the wake of the initial attacks in Afghanistan, this White House isn’t going to tell a roomful of politicians everything, or anything specific. But Daschle knows damn well where this is going. And he never raised an objection or asked a question.”p> FUZZY PLANS br> While Democrats may be itching to pick a fight, Bush’s team is looking to stay above the fray. Republican staffers in both the House and Senate were recently briefed by White House political operatives on plans for the 2002 campaign. “There will be no politics from the White House, at least not the kind that will really help us, and that may be a good thing,” says one longtime Senate leadership staffer. /p>
What the White House envisions is a President Bush criss-crossing America, presenting what are termed “innovative” plans to re-organize and energize “a government for the people.”
“He’s going to run against broader Democratic ideals and leave the candidates to hit harder on local issues,” says an RNC advance man. “By staying above the fray, but being really active on the campaign trail, he will make it harder for Democrats to attack him. And because of the kinds of proposals he’s going to make, it will be hard for Democratic candidates to criticize Republican candidates.”