Newspaper article The Christian Science Monitor

Questions Washington Is Asking

Newspaper article The Christian Science Monitor

Questions Washington Is Asking

Article excerpt

LET'S look at some of the questions being raised in this presidential race and then supply the best answers we can come up with:

Q:Will George Bush once again reorganize his campaign staff?

A:There's talk of this now among presidential aides who feel a change is necessary. They usually say that what the president needs is to have Secretary of State James Baker III at his side, helping him in making political and policy decisions.

President Bush and Mr. Baker chat frequently. Most of their conversation is on foreign policy. But no one can doubt that Bush leans on his former campaign manager for advice on political matters.

The other morning over breakfast the president's pollster and adviser, Robert Teeter, said that under no circumstances would Baker leave his post at State to play a top role in the campaign.

But Mr. Teeter conceded, under questioning, that Bush and Baker did have these private chats.

Q:Will the president carry on an intensive post-convention campaign all around the United States or will he, like Richard Nixon in 1972, stay close to the White House Rose Garden during that period?

A:Teeter said that this was a decision that "depended on circumstances." But I find it hard to imagine that the president won't be asking Baker what strategy he would recommend.

Further, Bush will undoubtedly ask Baker's advice on debates.

Q:But will Bush bring someone else in to provide hands-on top management of his campaign?

A:One of the president's advisers told me that Defense Secretary Dick Cheney might come over from the Pentagon to fill that spot. I was following up reports of this possible move.

This source spoke of how well Mr. Cheney had functioned years ago when, as President Ford's chief of staff, he shaped a campaign that brought Mr. Ford, with a popularity rating of just 33 percent, up to the place where he was able to take the nomination away from Ronald Reagan and then come within a hair of beating Jimmy Carter.

Under this arrangement, this adviser said, Cheney would probably be given the "political director" title - with Sam Skinner remaining on as chief of staff.

Q:Is Hillary Clinton an asset to the Clinton campaign? …

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