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UW Election Eye 2012

Campaign 2012 through the eyes of UW faculty and students

Topic: George W. Bush

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May 5, 2012 at 7:30 AM

Yearning for the Iraq War and a Former Commander In Chief

A chance meeting with three U.S. Army troops in an airport concourse led to one of the most fascinating series of interviews in my 25 years of reporting. These three shared their unbridled opinions on everything from America’s two most recent wartime presidents to why they choose to serve.

INDIANAPOLIS — Words flow off the tongue of U.S. Army Sergeant Jeremy Hansel like water from the fountain he drank from Friday at Indianapolis International Airport.

Here in Indiana, he said, “we vote for the man, not the party.” To hear this 13-year Army veteran tell it, Tuesday’s hotly contested Republican primary between six-term incumbent Dick Lugar and Tea Party challenger Richard Mourdock is exaggerated political theater that Hansel said diminishes the theater of war. He is a registered Democrat harshly critical of President Obama for whom he voted four years ago.

PFC Jamie Bachur & Sgt. Jeremy Hansel

U.S. Army PFC Jamie Bachur and Sergeant Jeremy Hansel at the Indianapolis International Airport on May 4, 2012. Bachur bopped Hansel with a water bottle after he said she was "desperate" to go fight overseas . (Photo by Thor Tolo/UW Election Eye)

“I’d rather save households [of unemployed Americans] than be president of the United States,” said Hansel, your prototype no-frills infantry sergeant so often portrayed in the movies. “I have a hard time agreeing with this withdrawal from Iraq ordered by the president. If some 80-year-old senator [Lugar] can keep us fighting for what’s right over in Afghanistan or Iraq, then that’s enough to get my vote.”

A pack-a-day smoker with 13 tattoos – “One for every year I’ve been in the Army,” he joked – Hansel has a work ethic as blue as his language. He was among the first troops to cross the border into Iraq during the March 2003 invasion.

“I’m desperate to go back even after three tours,” said Hansel, nodding toward Army Private First Class Jamie Bachur. “And so is she.” Bachur grabs a water bottle and playfully bonks her superior on his arm.

“I personally hate politics. I just want to go overseas to join the fight to be part of a bigger picture,” said Bachur, a staunch Republican whose parents met as active duty Army veterans themselves. Like Hansel, she is anxious to exonerate the legacy of Obama’s predecessor, George W. Bush.


Comments | More in National | Topics: Afghanistan, Baghdad, Barack Obama

April 30, 2012 at 6:30 AM

Monday Eye Openers: Gingrich Steps Back; Obama Plays it Cool

Newt Gingrich

Newt Gingrich (Photo courtesy of

Gingrich Bids Campaign Adieu…Kinda
Newt Gingrich has not run the most conventional of presidential campaigns. And it seems that Newt isn’t going to be changing his ways, even as he exits the election.

In the wake of multiple primary losses last Tuesday, the Gingrich campaign did not publicly say they were stepping aside, but they did say it was “very clear” that Mitt Romney was the nominee, that Gingrich would campaign as a “citizen,” and that “we’re working out the details of our transition.” There is some talk that Gingrich will withdraw on Tuesday or Wednesday.

In the end, it looks like Newt’s campaign is neither completely dead nor remotely alive. This limbo status prompted John Marshall of Talking Points Memo to question: “Newt Of The Living Dead: Is His Zombie Campaign Finally Over?”

Is Obama Too Cool?


Comments | More in National | Topics: Barack Obama, CISPA, George W. Bush

March 6, 2012 at 5:26 PM

Exclusive: Interview with Idaho Governor Butch Otter

Idaho Governor Butch Otter chats with an attendee at pro-Mitt Romney Meet and Greet event in Coeur D'Alene on Monday, March 5.

Idaho Governor Butch Otter chats with an attendee at a Mitt Romney Meet and Greet event in Coeur D'Alene on Monday, March 5. (Photo by Ilona Idlis/UW Election Eye)

COEUR D’ALENE –The hundred or so people gathered inside the Coeur D’Alene Resort Hotel for a Mitt Romney rally greeted Governor C.L. “Butch” Otter like an old friend.

Moments after strolling inside the convention hall, the Governor got a warm hug from Donna Montgomery, an event volunteer and long time member of Kootenai County Republican Women Federated. As the two walked toward the room, the Governor’s arm around Mongomery’s shoulders, she joked that Otter should be the one running for president.

“You know, I was up there for six years and didn’t like it much,” he retorted, reflecting on his six years in Washington D.C. as a congressman.

After shaking hands with me and Alicia Halberg — the only visible press at the event — the Governor disappeared inside the meeting hall and Montgomery nudged me with her elbow.

“Isn’t he cool,” she beamed.

Clad in jeans, a dress shirt with monogrammed “Butch” cuffs, American flag cuff links, and an enormous gilded belt buckle, the Governor carried himself a bit like a cowboy. He exuded a likability reminiscent of George W. Bush’s good ol’ boy charm. Aw shucks. I found myself agreeing with Montgomery.


Comments | Topics: Butch Otter, caucus, Caucuses

March 3, 2012 at 2:46 PM

Ron Paul supporters vocal at Portlandia's conservative suburb, Vancouver

VANCOUVER — Clark County hugs the northern side of the Columbia River near Portland and is often locked into the liberal vibe from the south. But on this day, the engaged crowd of 596 who gathered at Heritage High School for Republican caucuses took pride in being Portland’s conservative commuter city — and a Ron…


Comments | Topics: Barack Obama, Caucuses, George W. Bush

February 22, 2012 at 6:30 AM

What do you call a presidential candidate? Names, titles, and the art of political name-calling

Ron Paul, Mitt Romney, Newt Gingrich, and Rick Santorum

Republican presidential candidates Ron Paul, Mitt Romney, Newt Gingrich, and Rick Santorum (Photos courtesy of,,, and

Name recognition is big in politics. Amid a field of candidates for various offices, having voters know your name is key.

That’s why we still have the ultimate old school campaign technology: yard signs. They show support, yes, but more importantly they get a candidate’s name in the head of anyone who passes by. And in local races, name recognition, put simply, equals more votes. Think about Washington Congressman Jim McDermott — after more than 20 years in office, the guy’s got name recognition he banks on each election. Half of Seattle can probably spell his name in their sleep and check the box next to it.

At this point in the presidential race, most people know the names of the four Republican candidates: Mitt Romney, Rick Santorum, Newt Gingrich, and Ron Paul. Mitt, Rick, Newt, and Ron: the GOP’s 2012 Final Four.

All this got me to thinking, what do we average voters call the candidates and why?


Comments | Topics: Barack Obama, Bill Clinton, Gender

February 16, 2012 at 6:30 AM

Rick Santorum hits one million…on Temple Run, or how presidential candidates now embrace video games

Photo by

On almost any smartphone or tablet, amid the e-mail clients and various apps, one is likely to find a mobile game or two. Look on Rick Santorum’s iPad and you will see Temple Run.

I discovered this about the presidential candidate’s gaming habits when I spoke to his eldest daughter and son, Elizabeth and John. They said that as a family they don’t have time to play a console game on Xbox, PlayStation, or Wii, so they gather around the iPad to play games while on the campaign trail.

Santorum is not alone in his fondness of the game. Temple Run was one of the 50 most-downloaded apps in the App Store in December 2011, and has over 1.8 million likes on Facebook. The game runs on Apple’s mobile operating system, iOS, and, according to its creators Imangi Studios, it tests “your reflexes as you race down ancient temple walls and along sheer cliffs.”

Sounds like the perfect game for a presidential candidate.

I talked briefly with Santorum in Denver last week, and recounted my conversation with his children about Temple Run. Almost sheepishly, the presidential candidate replied, “When I go home my kids load all this junk on my iPad…I played it once and here I am….It used to be Angry Birds, now it’s Temple Run.”

His campaign manager later tugged his arm to direct him to the next interview, but Santorum wasn’t quite done yet. He asked, “Did they tell you what my high score was?” I said around one million, and he replied, “Yeah, it’s not very good.”

He’s right. Type in “highest score on Temple Run” on YouTube and one finds hundreds of videos with players getting into the multi-millions. To be fair, though, Santorum does have his hands full right now with things other than perfecting his gaming skills.

But there is a more serious aspect to all of this.


Comments | Topics: Barack Obama, campaign oddities, casual games

February 13, 2012 at 6:30 AM

The culture war and Rick Santorum return to Washington: Susan G. Komen, contraception, Catholics, and same-sex marriage

Rick Santorum at the Cable Center in Denver, Colo., on Feb. 6. The candidate was talking with supporters at his campaign (Photo by Corey Christiansen / UW Election Eye)

The culture war is back.

Actually, it never left. Ideological struggles over reproductive rights, sexuality, gender norms, evolution, and public religious expressions have continued apace, but have taken a backseat to the worst economic crisis the nation has faced since the Great Depression. National unemployment rates crested over 10% in 2009 and now reside at 8.3%, leading some conservatives to call for a “truce” on social issues in this election.

It isn’t back with the same strength as the mid-2000s, when conservative opponents of abortion rights and same-sex marriage were on the winning political side. In 2003, Congress passed legislation banning late-term abortions and the next year 11 states passed ballot initiatives banning same-sex marriage. The conservative energy behind these laws helped George W. Bush secure a second term in the White House. Times have changed: political progressives are now on the offense.

So it isn’t quite a full-on culture war — yet. That could change today, however, when our own Washington state becomes the epicenter of one front of this clash: same-sex marriage.

And one thing to note: Rick Santorum has been waiting for this moment, while Mitt Romney has been dreading it.


Comments | Topics: Barack Obama, Caucuses, Christine Gregoire

January 30, 2012 at 7:00 AM

Candidates' campaign song choices about more than the chorus

SEATTLE — Campaign music can often put candidates’ stump speeches to a melody anyone can follow.

Bill Clinton’s campaign song in 1992 was Fleetwood Mac’s “Don’t Stop.” Running as the challenger against an incumbent, the lyrics were completely on message:

Don’t stop thinking about tomorrow
Don’t stop, it’ll soon be here
It’ll be better than before
Yesterday’s gone, yesterday’s gone

In 2000, George W. Bush touted his “stick-to-your-guns” mentality with Tom Petty’s “I won’t back down.” The song’s lyrics played up Bush’s rough-and-tumble cowboy image against Al Gore’s more reserved persona:

No I’ll stand my ground
Won’t be turned around
And I’ll keep this world from dragging me down
Gonna stand my ground
And I won’t back down

That was until, like many things in 2000, Bush’s use of the song was contested. Petty’s publishers issued a cease and desist letter to Bush. And to add insult to injury, Petty later went on to play the song at a private concert in Gore’s home.


Comments | Topics: Barack Obama, Bill Clinton, Campaign music