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February 10, 2004
Bush's Numbers Rise With New Efforts

In a demonstration of what campaigning will do for George Bush, a new CNN/Gallup poll shows the President's numbers rising as he began to take his case directly to the people:

As President Bush defended his record last week, his approval rating and his strength against the leading Democratic presidential contenders improved, according to a new poll, but the numbers still point to a close election. ... Bush's approval rating in the poll, conducted Friday through Sunday, was 52 percent, compared with 44 percent who said they disapproved. The margin of error was plus or minus 3 percentage points.

In a poll taken a week earlier, Bush's approval rating was at 49 percent -- the lowest of his presidency -- with 48 percent disapproving of Bush's performance.

As I argued yesterday, Bush needs to start framing the debate in order to make sure it focuses on the appropriate and most important question: American security in an age of Islamofascist terror. John Kerry proposes to return the American effort to a law-enforcement approach, a failed strategy (of both political parties -- let's be clear) that culminated in the catastrophe of 9/11. In essence, John Kerry proposes to wait until a crime is committed before taking action.

George Bush, on the other hand, advocates and has implemented a strategy of war rather than law enforcement. He has taken 9/11, the bombings of the two American embassies in Africa, the attack on the USS Cole, among other provocations, as acts of war against the territory of the US and is taking action appropriate to that strategy. He doesn't propose to sit back and wait for another attack in order to gather more evidence; he has taken the attack to the enemy. And it has paid off. Al-Qaeda operations have been limited to essentially their own back yard and have killed more Muslims than anyone else, making them and their fanatical cause much more suspect among Middle East moderates.

The elections of November give us a clear choice as to which strategy we want pursued: law enforcement or war. Which has been more effective? That's the debate that George Bush must frame, and he needs to start now. The economy is recovering, jobs are being created, and so the election will rest on security, as it must. The latest polls show that the public is ready to listen. Make the stark distinction as clear as can be, Mr. President. Make the case. Don't wait for September, or Kerry will have already distracted the center on the true nature of what's at stake in November.

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Posted by Ed Morrissey at February 10, 2004 7:59 AM

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