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Bush is right Republican choice

POLITICAL pundits should have Texas Gov. George W. Bush's campaign committee trembling if they're right about their prognostications. They warn that the candidate's organizational, monetary and political lead may be waning in the face of overlooked or underestimated competitors. Bush's most prominent opponent is Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz).

While analysts are stirring up the metaphorical pot, they can't dismiss the fact that Bush has the qualifications necessary to be on the Republican ticket as well as the wherewithal to make it in a national election. His record trumps those of his closest competitors - McCain, and publisher Steve Forbes.

Forbes is unable to overcome his rich boy mystique. In fact, he has failed in two prior attempts to obtain the Republican nomination, and he keeps coming back for more. Why? Because he can. Because he has inherited a very sizeable fortune and running for president is a nice alternative to just sitting around, collecting money. His wealth, coupled with the power of the presidency, would be nothing to scoff at.

But Forbes is lacking in qualifications. He doesn't have any record of service save for six years with the National Guard. His B.A. in history from Princeton is one of his strong points. But an education alone does not qualify you to be the Chief Executive of the United States - especially if your chief qualification is your education; not your experience.

Bush's father was a president, a war hero and a well-educated person. Bush, too, attended an elite university, but that isn't all he has to offer. His record is nothing short of impressive. Demographically, he has united many social strata. Support for his campaign reaches across racial, ethnic and socioeconomic boundaries, and is testimony to his popularity. Most notable is his ability to court Hispanic voters. His record of reforming education and cutting taxes while stimulating the Texan economy only adds further merit to his political biography.

Bush's record must be well-known - pundits were speculating about his candidacy over two years in advance of the 2000 election. Since he officially decided to run, he has launched a remarkable fundraising drive, raising over $50 million. We can rest assured that Bush has executive experience as governor of Texas, and, more importantly, that he can do a good job.

McCain, on the other hand, is the beneficiary of consequence. A charismatic person with an unimpeachable record of military service, he has risen above his Republican counterparts merely because of the fact that he is still there. Finishing tenth at the Ames Straw Poll, McCain's recent rise in support is correlated most closely to the dropout of many of those who finished above him at Ames: Elizabeth Dole, Lamar Alexander, Dan Quayle and Alan Keyes. The strength of McCain's campaign is illusory. Republican consultant Mary Matalin observed on "Meet the Press" Sunday that "McCain isn't running a national campaign." Yes, he is doing well in New Hampshire. But even in his home state he's facing troubles. The Washington Post reported that, "The irony for McCain is that as his campaign has gained support in the leadoff primary in New Hampshire, he is showing signs of vulnerability where he ought to be strong" ("For McCain, No Place Like Home for Controversy," Nov. 28.)

McCain and Bush are neck and neck in the first primary state, New Hampshire. Both are strong party loyals. The difference: Bush is a winner. He has the resources to win and the qualifications for the office of the presidency. McCain undoubtedly has the latter, but he is a miserable investment for the Republican party. His campaign organization is inferior to Bush's, mainly due to lack of necessary funding. In addition, McCain does not have name recognition - something that will work strongly in Bush's favor. If the Republicans want to win the presidency in 2000, they must choose Bush.

(Jeffrey Eisenberg's column usually appears Tuesdays in The Cavalier Daily.)

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