John Kerry is taking himself off the campaign trail, canceling appearances he planned to make with Senate candidate Bob Casey Jr. in Pennsylvania and with House candidate Tim Walz in Minnesota. He told Don Imus this morning that he wants to "avoid being a distraction to these campaigns."
Perhaps George W. Bush ought to consider a similar move. As Dan Balz writes in the Washington Post today, the president is hitting the campaign trail for Republican candidates but has to "find a way to excite and mobilize a fractured Republican base without triggering an even bigger turnout among Democrats and Democratic-leaning independents that could cost his party the House or Senate."
The mainstream media seems eager to recast the 2006 election as a Bush vs. Kerry race all over again, but 2006 isn't -- or at least it shouldn't be -- a referendum on what John Kerry has been doing for the past two years. It might not be too late for Kerry to make himself disappear as an issue, but Bush doesn't -- or at least shouldn't -- have that luxury.
One Republican strategist tells Balz that Bush is "at least 50 percent of the problem" for GOP candidates around the country. The strategist says that a Bush visit can still rally voters in strong Republican areas -- the president's itinerary this week has featured Georgia, Texas and Georgia again -- but that the president would serve the party better in more moderate areas if he'd just "stay away."