- The Washington Times - Thursday, May 1, 2003

House Republicans are riding a big bump in public opinion support and say they are doing all the right things to ensure they maintain control of Congress and President Bush is re-elected in 2004.
The Republican leadership has vowed to avoid a repeat of 1992, when the president's father lost the White House despite high poll numbers after a military victory against Iraq.
"Unlike 1991, President Bush and Republicans in Congress proposed a proactive package of domestic initiatives over the past year the centerpiece being our tax and other economic proposals to create more jobs, Rep. Deborah Pryce of Ohio, House Republican Conference chairwoman, wrote in a memo to her House colleagues.
"Americans are looking for solutions to their concerns, and Republicans are providing them," she said.
Ms. Pryce cited a new poll taken by the Winston Group of 1,000 registered voters that showed 55 percent had a favorable view of Republicans in Congress, while 35 percent had a negative view. For Democrats, 44 percent held a favorable view and 44 percent held a negative view.
House Majority Leader Tom DeLay said Tuesday the Republicans' numbers are either at or near an all-time high: "I can't remember the last time we enjoyed those kinds of numbers."
But he said Republicans aren't planning on coasting.
"Numbers are numbers, and public opinion is often fleeting, and we all know that," Mr. DeLay, Texas Republican, said. "Although Bush's numbers are sky high, they will likely come back to earth at some point, so our reliance on doing what is right, not just what is popular, is very, very important."
Greg Speed, a spokesman for the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, said the poll numbers should be taken in the context of "Republican members paying a Republican pollster to make them feel better about the fact that their economic plan has been a failure for two years running."
"Republicans are in charge of the entire federal government, and ultimately, they'll have to answer for their failure on the economy, education, health care and other issues," Mr. Speed said.
In the memo, Ms. Pryce said Republicans have a "mixed bag" when it comes to those issues.
They are about even with Democrats 42 percent to 43 percent on whom voters trust more on jobs and the economy, and have a commanding lead on defense. But they trail, 37 percent to 45 percent, on Social Security, and are far behind, at 35 percent to 49 percent, on education.
But she said the overall favorable rating from voters gives Republicans a chance to make their case.
"We go into this debate with a uniquely popular president, a strong Republican congressional brand, and a Democrat opposition desperately trying to bridge a credibility gap of their own making," she said.
Democrats, though, said Republicans are probably peaking now, which is good news for Democrats.
"Bush 43's numbers are well below where his dad was in 1991, and that's significant because what [his father] had at that time is, he had the broad support of American people across the political spectrum," said one Democratic strategist who requested anonymity. "What Bush has not been able to do is, he has not been able to transcend into the Democratic base."

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