Covering the White House, I talk a lot about issues like the war, or immigration, or the deficit impacting the president or his party. This week I had a chance to get outside Washington and talk to some voters for a piece I'm working on for Nightly News.
I've been studying our polls and wondering where and why Bush is losing Republican support. My producer Julie Holstein and I went to the Philadelphia suburbs where three Republican congressmen are trying to hold on to their seats in an area of upper income, socially moderate voters -- reliable Republican territory for years but a major battleground this fall. Pennsylvania is also the state with one of the most interesting Senate races in the country featuring Rick Santorum who trails badly in the polls in part because of his close association in voters minds with President Bush.
We found lifelong Republicans seriously considering voting for a Democrat this fall. The issues? The war, high gas prices, even the deficit. One voter I talked to made an impassioned point about how the president has missed the opportunity to launch a real effort to make America energy independent. Overall, I heard the feeling that the president has lost his way as a leader. Also, these voters are in the mood to penalize any member of Congress who acted like a rubber stamp for this president.
The Philly suburbs have been teetering toward the Democratic party for awhile. (The fact that Governor Rendell is on the ballot this fall also helps because he has a get-out-the-vote machine working in the suburbs.)
Lots going on in the world today, but we hope to get this piece on Nightly News tonight. By the way, send me your thoughts on the dynamic in local races where you live. I'm looking for other snapshots around the country that can tell the larger story about the political climate.
My team and I are also watching Bush's travels to Fort Belvoir today with Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki. Wondering what kind of reception they'll get from the troops. More later.