Will Bush face right-wing Nader?

By Geraldine Sealey
February 5, 2004 8:44PM (UTC)
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We first noticed President Bush's weak primary performance in New Hampshire, when just 78 percent of voters who cast ballots in the GOP primary there supported the "popular" incumbent. It's true that when a sitting president runs virtually unopposed, turnout isn't exactly strong and there's room for mischief from voters just having fun or boosting novelty candidates. But The Nation's Online Beat column this week sums up just how dismal Bush's N.H. primary showing was. Even compared to past incumbents, including Clinton and Reagan, Bush's support was unusually low in New Hampshire. Perhaps that's why, as the Nation points out: "Republicans in some states have decided to cancel their primaries. In South Carolina, for instance, the state Republican Party's executive committee decided not to hold their state's tradition first-in-the-south primary. They simply endorsed Bush for reelection and agreed to select delegates at district and state Republican Party conventions where, presumably, the president will not have to run the risk of embarrassment at the hands of independent thinking voters."

And Republicans in other states are showing their renegade sides, too. Bush's trouble this election season might just be getting started, and might not come just from Democrats. On Tuesday, for example, in that GOP stronghold of Oklahoma, an unknown T-shirt retailer named Bill Wyatt won more than 10 percent of the vote in the Republican primary. According to WorldNet Daily, "Wyatt is running a low-key campaign emphasizing an anti-war position and is protesting Bush's policies toward illegal immigrants. The strong showing is sure to encourage third-party candidates in the fall."


One possible third-party challenger for Bush could seriously draw Southern conservatives from the GOP fold in November. Ousted Alabama Supreme Court Justice Roy Moore, of Ten Commandments in the courthouse fame, could prove to be Bush's right-wing Ralph Nader. Moore won't rule out running against Bush, WorldNet Daily reports.

Geraldine Sealey

Geraldine Sealey is senior news editor at Salon.com.

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