“We think a visit by Bush puts Coleman where he needs to be on Tuesday,” says a White House political operative. “The national party has done everything it can in Minnesota to get him to this point, and he hasn’t disappointed.”
And Bush’s trip to Minnesota has Democrats there nervous. For all their talk about how Bush doesn’t have coattails, Democrats have seen GOP candidates spike in the polls, particularly among undecided voters across the country this year. “You look at poll numbers in California after Bush has been there and Bill Simon cuts the lead of Davis,” says the operative. “In South Dakota Thune pulls up on Johnson. In Florida, Bush solidifies against McBride. This president may not have coattails, but with his appearances he’s making some races more competitive than they might have been.”
When word leaked out that the Wellstone family had asked Cheney not to attend, Democrats in Minnesota quickly told reporters it was because the family was angry at the way some Republicans continued to campaign over the weekend after the senator’s death. Now Democrats in Minnesota are trying to fan the controversy enough so that the White House will be skittish about sending Bush into the state.