It is an interesting piece, and Topinka intrigues…until we get to the end:
Topinka says Karl Rove urged her to run, hoping to offset in Illinois a probable gubernatorial loss in New York. Would she like President Bush to campaign for her? An aide says not exactly: “We just want him to raise money.” Topinka does not demur as the aide adds: “Late at night.” Pause. “In an undisclosed location.”
Maybe Illinois Republicans have found their John McCain. Now they will find out whether such “straight talk” works.
So much in those two paragraphs.
First, we see that columnist Will is an unreconstructed McCain man. Fine.
But we also see Topinka indifferent to the appearance in at least one paper in every major market in the union of a slam at the president from her senior staff that goes unrebuked by her.
Whatever one thinks of the president –and quite a few Republicans and independents admire him greatly, many of them Illinois voters– the candidate gains absolutely nothing by playing to the columnist’s renowned dislike for all things Bush.
Does the candidate and staff imagine that no one reads Will’s columns in the White House? Or are they counting on the president’s very thick skin to absorb the slight, and Laura as well to put it down to inexperience with the national press?
When I see candidates wanting to have the president’s friends and their money but not without an obligatory shot to satisfy critics, I know that I am observing a real rookie.
Lynn Swann and Ken Blackwell are also running for governor in crucial swing states. They have managed to do so thus far without playing to the anti-Bush MSM. What pro-Bush donor is going to skip over them to dig deep for Topinka?
Illinois hasn’t done much for the GOP in recent years, and if it joins California and New York as a deep blue safety zone for Democrats in presidential years, the answer is not to prop up occasional governors, but to match up a third big state to go with Florida and Texas in the deep red category. I know that Illinois isn’t going to go from blue to even light red with a governor who starts her campaign by blasting Bush.