Washington — A "reassessment" of the presidential campaign of George Bush may have reached the point where he will decide to drop out of the race. This may come as early as Monday.
In a Monitor interview Thursday morning (May 22), campaign manager Jim Baker seemed to be saying this.
"The key element," Mr. Baker said, "is to raise $600,000 for the California primary. Now, we can raise some more money. But it won't be enough."
"Sure," said the Bush campaign manager, "we have enough money for New Jersey and Ohio. But it doesn't make much sense to go into those primaries and not into California when we know we can't possibly turn the race around without winning California."
Here Mr. Baker was asked if the decision had been made to drop out?
"No," he said. "George will make that decision over the weekend. But I know he's concerned that by continuing now he may look like a spoiler -- and like he's on an ego trip." Mr. Baker was sounding like a man who was looking back, not ahead.
However, late Thursday Mr. Bush canceled further California appearances and said he would decide Monday whether to continue in the presidential race.
"Maybe I'm the wrong man to say it. But George has done a heck of a job. They said at the start that he was going nowhere. But he's done extremely well, " said Mr. Baker. "He's shown he can win in the big industrial states. He's shown he's popular with a wide cross section of voters."
Mr. Baker was asked about the Bush campaign's California plan -- to use victories in Michigan and California to pull delegates and the nomination away from Ronald Reagan.
"The California plan," said Mr. Baker, "is nearly scrapped." Now it appears it is totally scrapped.
"It's very tough," he continued. "Did you watch TV Tuesday night?
"Here George and I were watching TV. We were elated. Bush had won a stunning victory in Michigan. Then on the tube we heard the political assessment that Reagan had wrapped up the nomination and, oh yes, as a footnote, Bush had won in Michigan.
"We just didn't get the momentum we needed out of the big Michigan win -- the momentum we needed to get the money we need if we were to make a good showing in California.
"The basic problem we're having," Mr. Baker said, "is that people think Reagan has it sewed up. It's very difficult raising money when people have that perception."
"But now it's tough. I just got a phone call from our campaign chairman in Michigan. He said, 'What if I could get $1 contributed by the 340,000 who voted for you on Tuesday?' and I said that even if he could do that he couldn't do it fast enough and it wouldn't be enough."
The campaign manager was asked if Mr. Bush would take the second spot on the ticket if it were offered him.
"Yes," said Mr. Baker. "But I don't think it will happen. Reagan will probably pick someone he has had a personal and social relationship with in the past -- like Senator [Howard] Baker. But Bush has never had that kind of relationship with Reagan."