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Few Republican candidates won that year. Bob Corker of Tennessee was in a close race when his managers got the dreaded call from 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue informing them that the president wanted to come to Tennessee to help.

When the Corker team pleaded with them to stay away from Tennessee, they were told he was coming whether they liked the idea or not, and that Mr. Corker should welcome him with open arms.

The candidate’s managers said that if Mr. Bush came to Tennessee, Mr. Corker would leave the state until Air Force One left. After a tense confrontation, the White House backed down, Mr. Bush skipped Tennessee and Mr. Corker won.

Mr. Bush’s people then — like Mr. Obama’s today — recognized the danger of making the races “all about the president.” Ego triumphed, though. Presidents and their operatives want things their way and ultimately come to think that the White House way is always the smartest path.

They also managed to convince themselves that unless the president campaigned actively, his absence from the campaign trail would be an admission of weakness that would make it harder to govern for the rest of his term. Their reaction was an almost inevitable result of the publicity surrounding Mr. Crist’s very public snub.

If anything, Mr. Obama is far more thin-skinned that George W. Bush, and his operatives are as arrogant and self-centered as any who have preceded them.

The only remaining question is, who will be this cycle’s Charlie Crist.

David A. Keene is opinion editor of The Washington Times.