Bush predicts Clinton will take Democratic nomination
President says GOP will hold White House in '08, though
President Bush has for the first time made clear his prediction about the outcome of next year's presidential election: Hillary Clinton will become the Democratic nominee but ultimately will fail to take the White House.
"She's got a national presence and this is becoming a national primary," Bush tells Washington Examiner reporter Bill Sammon in an interview for The Evangelical President a forthcoming book on the 43rd president. ""And therefore the person with the national presence, who has got the ability to raise enough money to sustain an effort in a multiplicity of sites, has got a good chance to be nominated."
Although Bush did not predict who the GOP will nominate next year, whoever it is will defeat Clinton in a general election, he predicted.
"I think our candidate can beat her, but it's going to be a tough race," Bush told Sammon, who previously worked for the conservative Washington Times. "I will work to see to it that a Republican wins and therefore don't accept the premise that a Democrat will win. I truly think the Republicans will hold the White House."
Despite his willingness to hit the campaign trail, the feeling among many Republicans seems to be that Bush would be most helpful by staying home.
With only a third of Americans approving Bush's performance and just 28 percent believing he is leading the country in the right direction, Republican candidates are distancing themselves from the president without alienating his remaining die-hard supporters who comprise a the most die-hard elements of the GOP base. The Associated Press reports that Republican strategists privately "agree their nominee will lose next fall if the general election is a referendum on Bush."
Even Karl Rove, who was Bush's political right hand until this month, and Vice President Dick Cheney do not echo the president's certitude about the upcoming election.
"It's going to be a very close election," Rove tells Sammon. "We are at this very narrow divide in politics."
Cheney says the race "could go either way" because "right now, we're sort of in the area where we're pretty evenly balanced on both sides."
As for Clinton's top rival, Barack Obama, an unnamed White House official took some potshots at the freshman senator, saying that although he is "capable" of the intellectual rigor necessary to become president, the Democratic rising star relies too much on his charisma.
"It's sort of like, 'that's all I need to get by,' which bespeaks sort of a condescending attitude towards the voters," said the official, speaking on condition of anonymity. "And a laziness, an intellectual laziness."