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Bush Picks a 'Wedge'

Jan. 30 2008, Published 8:04 a.m. ET

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Are the Dems finally wising up to Karl Rove? The GOP hadhoped whitebread Supreme Court nominee John Roberts’sstance on Roe v. Wade would be the bait for an ugly showdown on abortion in time for the November midterm elections, but Democratic insiders say the donkey ain’tbiting.

Rove and Co. have used such so-called “wedge” issues in the pastto divide voters and distract attention from real problems plaguing theadministration, like job decline, the Iraq war, and scandals like the one nowenveloping the Architect himself, White House watchers say.

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“The Republicans are looking for a fight and they’re not gonnaget it,” says a Democratic congressman, requesting anonymity. “Funnything is, the White House immediately issued press releases aboutRoberts’s briefs on Roe v. Wade, and the cable networks were eager to stirthings up. Then, when we wouldn’t bite, the White House sent out releasesabout his role in the 2000 recount to try to stoke the fire. It doesn’tget more blatant than that.”

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Considering the President’s approval rating, such a wedge might come inhandy. Democrats have their best chance in a decade of winning back House seatsfrom Republicans in key districts in states like Ohio, Florida, California, NewYork, Massachusetts—and even Bush’s home state of Texas.

“The Republicans want the elections to be about Roe v.Wade,” the congressman says, “and the Democrats in the House understand that comeelection season it has to be about jobs, the economy and how to fix the war onterror—the things that actually matter in this country.”



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