- The Washington Times - Thursday, November 1, 2001

President Bush on Tuesday ventured just outside the Beltway to a high school in Rockville, where he was introduced by former Sen. and GOP presidential candidate Bob Dole. The president spoke about a new program to bring veterans into the public schools to serve as examples of wartime sacrifice. Then, the president went to Yankee Stadium, where he threw out the first ball at the World Series. Mr. Bush is quite right when he emphasizes that terrorists must not be permitted to alter the way Americans live their lives. Now, it's time for him to follow his own advice, by crossing the Potomac River into Virginia, where a critical state election is just five days away. It's at least as important as watching the Yankees and Diamondbacks play baseball.
According to a recent Mason-Dixon poll, Republican gubernatorial candidate Mark Earley (like Mr. Bush, a solid conservative) has closed to within three points of his liberal Democratic opponent, Mark Warner. Mr. Earley's GOP ticket-mates Jay Katzen, who is running for lieutenant governor, and Jerry Kilgore, who is running for attorney general would also benefit from an appearance or two from Mr. Bush, who beat Al Gore by eight points in Virginia last year, and sports an approval rating there of 86 percent. Defenders of Mr. Bush's refusal to come to the state point out that he wrote a letter this week endorsing the Republican ticket. But Stephen J. Farnsworth, a political scientist at Mary Washington College, told the Richmond Times-Dispatch that Mr. Bush's letter may be as much bad news as good news for the Republicans, because it precludes a visit, which would be much more effective.
It's simply a copout to claim that political campaigning by Mr. Bush is somehow at odds with the bipartisanship needed during wartime. Tell that to presidents like Abraham Lincoln and Franklin Delano Roosevelt, who ran for and won re-election when America was at war. Mr. Bush should understand that campaigning for good people like Mr. Earley, who share the president's beliefs, is in the best tradition of American democracy.


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