Bush coronation is almost complete
By Jeanne Meserve/CNN
May 27, 1999
Web posted at: 1:27 p.m. EDT (1727 GMT)
WASHINGTON (May 27) -- Texas Gov. George W. Bush, ran Wednesday through the streets of Austin, Texas, doing his part for an event to benefit the Special Olympics. Here in the nation's capital, Republican lawmakers staged their own event, this one to benefit George W. Bush.
"America is finally getting a major case of Clinton-Gore fatigue," said Rep. Christopher Smith (R-New Jersey) at the event. "Governor Bush, on the other hand, will bring integrity, consistency, experience, vision and fundamentally-sound moral values to the White House."
It's been going on for months, Republicans across the country jumping on the Bush 2000 bandwagon: 115 Republican House members Wednesday, New York's governor on Monday, several other GOP governors in February and so on.
Three years ago, the Texas governor was a bit player on the national political scene. Now, he's been all but coronated by the Republican Party, whose hunger for a winner helped convince Bush to run in the first place and has powered him along ever since.
Marlin Fitzwater was White House press secretary for Gov. Bush's father. "I think he was really drawn into it by so many people going to him," Fitzwater said. "And the way he won the second election as governor was so inspiring for the party and for the people who wanted to see a new direction for the Republican Party that people started demanding that he give consideration to it."
The Bush candidacy has also been fueled by polls -- from a CNN survey back in September 1997 showing him on top of the list of likely Republicans to today's GOP primary and general election match-ups, which show he's the single-most popular candidate in the presidential field.
But as expectations rise, so do the risks for the candidate and his backers. Democrats say he's not ready for prime time and that his poll numbers will suffer once he leaves Texas and hits the campaign trail next month. If that happens, it's not clear who else will be in position to carry the Republican torch.