The (Non)candidate

George W. Bush faces a dilemma. What’s a poor front-runner for the GOP presidential nomination supposed to do when all anyone in the media wants to talk about is when he’s going to announce his intentions? Why don’t interviewers ask him about shoes or ships or sealing wax—anything but that? The key to success in politics, as Bush himself likes to say, “is time worn: it’s timing,” and the concern is that as the early front-runner, he will peak too soon. So a current subject of debate among Bush strategists is whether to spike all the speculation by issuing a statement that the governor will not discuss his plans until after the 1999 legislative session (assuming that he is reelected, which looks certain). Any queries on that subject after the statement is issued would be answered by referring to the statement. The only downside is that a rival might gain momentum in the meantime, but for now that doesn’t seem to be a problem: In a recent survey of four hundred voters in the pivotal state of New Hampshire, the leader was noncandidate Bush.

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