Presidential candidates heading opposite ways

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, July 14, 2004

Tribune editorial staff

It is hard to tell what will happen between now and November, but President Bush better start focusing on his bid for reelection now.

Since Sen. John Kerry announced that former adversary John Edwards would be his running mate in the presidential election, his campaign has taken the high road. Bush's, on the other hand, has been looking down the low road.

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According to a USA Today/CNN/Gallup Poll released Tuesday, the Democratic ticket now leads President Bush and Vice President Dick Cheney 50 percent to 45 percent among likely voters. The survey was taken Thursday through Sunday.

An Associated Press poll released two days after Kerry chose Edwards gave Bush a slight lead. The numbers showed Bush at 49 percent and Kerry at 45 percent.

Choosing Edwards was a smart move for Kerry. The North Carolina senator and former presidential hopeful has helped Kerry consolidate support among Democrats. Three weeks ago, polls showed 85 percent supported Kerry, but now 92 percent do.

Bush, meanwhile, has had a few bad breaks in recent weeks.

The war in Iraq, which more Americans are beginning to question, is still a hot topic.

A new report from the Senate Intelligence Committee says the CIA and other U.S. intelligence agencies failed to accurately assess Iraq's weapons of mass destruction before last year's invasion does not help matters, either.

Also, while Kerry's VP candidate has been a positive for his campaign, Bush's recently dealt him a PR nightmare. When Dick Cheney shouted obscenities at Democrat Patrick Leahy at a Senate Judiciary Committee meeting late last month, he dealt a blow to the Bush campaign.

Presidential elections are all about momentum. And, like a NASCAR race, the momentum may shift several times throughout the race. At this point in the race, though, President Bush should make a pit stop, make the necessary repairs and get his car firing on all cylinders. Otherwise, we could see a new president in office in 2005.