Stump gets a dust­ing of Snow: Press sec­re­tary hits the road for GOP

The Washington Times Weekly - - National - By Joseph Curl

JEF­FER­SON­VILLE,Ind.—The White House has thrown its power play­ers into this south­east cor­ner of In­di­ana, deemed by se­nior po­lit­i­cal strate­gist Karl Rove as ground zero in the 2006 con­gres­sional elec­tions.

In just the last cou­ple of weeks, Pres­i­dent Bush held his first po­lit­i­cal rally of the sea­son just up the road in Sellers­burg, and Vice Pres­i­dent Dick Cheney, first lady Laura Bush, for­mer first lady Bar­bara BushandRepub­li­canNa­tion­alCom­mit­tee Chair­man Ken Mehlman have all dropped by. But last week, theWhiteHouse­calle­dinits­big­gun — Tony Snow.

In a tiny hall at 300 Spring St. — on a quin­tes­sen­tial small-town thor­ough­fare where the town’s chil­dren pa­raded on Oct. 31 in their Hal­loween cos­tumes — the White House press sec­re­tary ser­e­naded a room full of plump men and blue­haired women, of­fer­ing his unique brand of rosy op­ti­mism, ea­gerly lapped up by the lo­cal Repub­li­can ac­tivists.

“Thi­sisan­elec­tion­about­bigchal­lenges and high ideals, and all I want­tosayis,thanky­ou­so­much­for be­ing part of it, and I hope that I’ve given you a lit­tle more hope to re­al­ize that,” Mr. Snow said as he paced the stage like a TV talk-show host. “But I need your help: Can I count on it?” The room­ful of peo­ple burst into ap­plause and shouts of “Yes.”

The for­mer Fox News Chan­nel per­son­al­ity and con­ser­va­tive com­men­ta­tor is adored in “red” Amer­ica, where he brings swoons. With his tele­genic good looks and seam­less charm, Mr. Snow is even more pop­u­larthanhis­boss,who­has­been shunned by some Repub­li­cans and hasat­tend­ed­few­er­fundrais­er­sthan his more pop­u­lar wife in re­cent weeks.

It­was­a­point­thatDemo­crat­icNa­tion­alCom­mit­teespokesman­Sta­cie Pax­ton quickly made.

“Pres­i­dent Bush ob­vi­ously re­mains a li­a­bil­ity for Repub­li­cans. Maybe some­one should re­mind Tony Snow that the first rule of PR is to not get bet­ter press than your boss,” she said.

Even though Mr. Snow ar­rived her­e­morethanan­hourlate,all­who had packed into the room — in­clud­ingth­ose­who­had­drive­nan­houror more for the lun­cheon — stayed, de­spite lo­cal Repub­li­can Rep. Mike So­drel’s fill­ing the gap by talk­ing non­stop.

“Oooh, we just love him,” cooed Lowetta Jenk­ins, of nearby Clarksville, Ind., stretch­ing out the word “love.” “He was very pos­i­tive, up­beat. He presents the pres­i­dent’s mes­sage so well.”

The­dayMr.Snow­stopped­inJ­ef­fer­son­ville, he first hit a fundraiser up­state­forIn­di­anaRepub­li­canRep. Chris Cho­cola, also locked in a tight race.Hethen­fle­won­toSt.Lou­is­for a chat with ac­tivists work­ing to re­elect Mis­souri Sen. Jim Tal­ent, tied with­hisop­po­nentinthe­mostre­cent polls. In all, he will do about 15 events on this trip, in­clud­ing his last, on Nov. 1 for Mary­land Se­nate can­di­date Michael S. Steele, the state’s lieu­tenant gov­er­nor.

When Mr. Snow an­nounced last month that he would hit the cam­paign trail for the pres­i­dent and his party — the first press sec­re­tary to raise­funds­forhis­boss—he­as­sured White House re­porters he would serve up no “red meat.” He was, for the most part, true to his word on Oct. 30, al­though he did get a jab or two in at Democrats, col­lege pro­fes­sors and even the French.

“This elec­tion is about the dif­fer- ence be­tween a pres­i­dent who says, ‘I am go­ing to do ev­ery­thing I can to do my job right, in­clud­ing think­ing about the fu­ture,’ and a Demo­cratic Par­tythathas­madea­cal­cu­lat­ed­po­lit­i­cal gam­ble to say noth­ing about the­mat­ter­sthat­count,”he­said.“Ask your­selfthe­fol­low­ingques­tion:Why would you hire some­body if they’re not go­ing to tell you what they’re go­ing to do?”

Segue­ing into Iran, with a dec­la­ra­tion that “Iran loves Amer­ica,” he said:“Let­mejust­putit­thisway:The Ira­nian pub­lic is more pro-Amer­i­can that just about any col­lege fac­ulty in the United States.” Big ap­plause from the con­ser­va­tive core.

On democ­racy, he throws in a barb sure to draw a cheer from the par­ti­san throng of about 250. “Democ­ra­cies are just not a pain in the neck — ex­cept, upon oc­ca­sion, the French.” A big laugh, then whoops of ap­plause.

Through­outhishour­longtalkand ques­tion-and-an­swer ses­sion — the lun­cheon cost $25 to at­tend, but an­other$100forapic­ture­with­thes­tar — Mr. Snow kept it per­sonal, men­tion­ing his bat­tle with colon can­cer, his three small chil­dren and his in­ept­ness with his IPod. “My daugh­ter pro­grams mine,” he said.

Even­though­hean­sweredaque­s­tion about his fu­ture by say­ing he sim­ply doesn’t know what he’ll do next, he dis­missed a small sign that read “Tony Snow — 2008.”

“Ididn’tthink­they­servedal­co­hol that early,” he said.

Louisville Courier-Jour­nal

White House press sec­re­tary Tony Snow en­er­gized Repub­li­cans at an event for an en­dan­gered con­gress­man in Jef­fer­son­ville, Ind. on Oct. 30. Mr. Snow has hit the cam­paign trail for Pres­i­dent Bush.

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