James Carville, Stanley Greenberg and Bob Shrum

Excerpts from a Monitor breakfast on a US public opinion poll about George Bush.

Democratic strategists James Carville, Stanley Greenberg and Bob Shrum are founders of the Democracy Corps. At the breakfast, they presented a national political poll conducted September 9-14, 2003. Further information about the poll can be found at their website: www.democracycorps.com

Here are excerpts of what they said at the Monitor breakfast:

On the political climate:

(Greenberg) "I think [the US is] in a new period. I think the post 9-11 period is over. We are in a new period. I don't know how to label this period. I won't try to label this period. But there are such dramatic changes that I think we have to look at the political fortunes now in an entirely different way given that on so many fronts the president and in some sense the republicans are in difficulty."

On how Americans view the president:

(Greenberg) "48 percent of the American people, almost half the country, say the president of the United States is in over his head, the exact wording of the poll. It has gone up."

On domestic versus foreign policy ratings:

(Shrum) "I'd say the first pillar, the domestic pillar, for Bush is crumbing. The second pillar, the national security pillar, which was always the place they were going to go if domestic things were not working is severely cracked. ..... it is amazing to me that on really critical questions like weapons of mass destruction (and) did the president tell the truth on Iraq, basically the belief in him and in what he said is collapsing. And I think those are leading indicators of things like how strong he is going to be on national security."

On the president's political strength in context:

(Carville) "There is a common belief that the president is at least as strong, probably stronger politically than he was pre-September 11. That is a myth. The president today is weaker politically than he was before September 11."

On whether the president has time to recover:

(Carville) "These numbers smell to me like if things continue to go wrong, if something really goes wrong, they could be in for a collapse. They have got time to improve their position, they have also got time to break it significantly...sure it could change for the better for the administration but I don't see anything saying it couldn't get a...lot worse."

On how the Republican Party may respond to the falling poll numbers:

(Greenberg) "I also believe the Republicans will not look at these numbers and respond aimlessly as they have on Iraq and the economy. ... I think they will use whatever hot-button, red-meat issues they can...to hold onto power..."

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