Bush Still Bullish on McCain
By Dan Eggen
The White House has made it a general practice to stay out of commentary on the presidential race. But press secretary Dana M. Perino waded into the campaign briefly today when she was asked whether President Bush was concerned by McCain's lagging poll numbers.
"The president is convinced that John McCain has still time to close up this race," Perino told reporters aboard Air Force One. "He remembers when he was running in 2000 and how far he was down before the election, and he came back to win."
Perino is right that Bush staged a comeback of sorts, but the situation was notably different. According to Washington Post polling that year, Al Gore was two points ahead on Oct. 1, which was well within the margin of error. By Oct. 9, after that year's first presidential debate, Bush was up 48 percent to 45 percent. The race remained close or deadlocked until election day, which famously ended in a contested result.
Democrat Barack Obama, by contrast, now leads McCain by up to 10 percent in major national polls, and has broken the 50 percent barrier in some of them.
Perino's remarks came as Bush was flying to Coral Gables, Fla., for a Congressional Trust fundraiser expected to bring in about $500,000. Bush is scheduled to attend a second fundraiser later today in Kiawaleh Island, S.C., with an estimated haul of $1.4 million for the Republican National Committee.
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