Bush Readies ‘Significant Speech’

Bush readies ‘significant speech’ (Bill Sammon, Washington Times)

President Bush, stung by the erosion of his lead over Sen. John Kerry in post debate polls, has abruptly scheduled a major speech for tomorrow in hopes of halting Mr. Kerry’s momentum.
In a rare, last-minute alteration to the presidential schedule, Mr. Bush has scrapped a planned talk on medical liability and instead will give what the White House called a “significant speech” about the two central issues of the campaign — the war on terrorism and the economy. The president is said to be eager to rebut Mr. Kerry’s attacks on such issues, especially those that came during Thursday’s presidential debate. “There has been an attempt by the president’s opponent to launch false attacks and mislead the American people on these big priorities,” White House press secretary Scott McClellan told reporters aboard Air Force One. “There are some big differences facing the American people, and the president wants to highlight those differences.”

The Kerry campaign was delighted that the Massachusetts Democrat has forced the president into reactive mode. Kerry spokesman Phil Singer ridiculed Mr. Bush’s decision to give a major speech, which will be delivered in Wilkes-Barre, Pa. “George Bush has spent the last few months resorting to half-truths on the stump. Now he’s going the whole way,” he said. “A president needs to be forthcoming and straightforward about his polices, and if the last few days are any indication, Wednesday’s speech will be neither.”

This seems an odd move, given that the vice presidential debate is this evening and the second Bush-Kerry debate takes place Friday. Indeed, he could well step on good news emerging from the Cheney-Edwards debate. My guess is that none of the Big 3 networks even cover the speech, as we’re in the launch phase of the new prime time season and it has become standard policy of late not to air presidential addresses perceived as purely “political.”

Further, as discussed here yesterday and encapsulated later in the article, there is no obvious reason for Bush to be going into panic mode. Despite widespread agreement that Kerry won the first debate (or, more accurately, Bush lost it) the polls mostly show Bush still in front. Not only is he leading the race, albeit narrowly, in the national race but he’s got a commanding lead in the electoral vote projections and is doing quite well in the “internals” even in the polls showing him having lost ground after the debate.

FILED UNDER: 2004 Election, Terrorism, , , , ,
James Joyner
About James Joyner
James Joyner is Professor and Department Head of Security Studies at Marine Corps University's Command and Staff College. He's a former Army officer and Desert Storm veteran. Views expressed here are his own. Follow James on Twitter @DrJJoyner.


  1. Eric says:

    I read this article and had the same thoughts. This sounds like unwarranted and uncharacteristic panic. My immediate thought was that this really was the “October Surprise,” but I think more likely he’s going to be highlighting the sucess in Samarra and upcoming Sunni Triangle offensives.