Humphrey Institute fellow to lead Bush’s re-election campaign

After earning a University political science degree, Vin Weber went on to represent Minnesota on Capitol Hill.

Now, the Humphrey Institute of Public Affairs fellow will serve President George W. Bush in his push for a second term.

The Bush-Cheney 2004 campaign on Thursday named Weber as one of 11 regional leaders for its re-election bid.

“I love campaigns, but they’re a lot of work,” Weber said. “The Upper Midwest is an exciting place to be in the next election. This is a huge opportunity.”

Minnesotans can expect Republicans to push harder in this election than in recent campaigns, Weber said. This election will be the first since 1972 in which Republicans have targeted Minnesota as a must-win state and Weber hopes to play a key role.

He will coordinate campaign efforts in Minnesota, North Dakota, South Dakota, Iowa and Nebraska. He will be in charge of monitoring public opinion, coordinating campaign efforts and organizing presidential election visits.

“Vin Weber is respected by the president and we are honored to have him,” said Dan Ronayne, a Bush campaign spokesman.

In 2000, Weber volunteered for the presidential campaign for Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., but after McCain dropped out of the race, Weber joined the Bush campaign.

“I’m the only person that’s migrated to Bush’s upper command. They were really appreciative of that,” he said.

Humphrey Institute Senior Fellow Tim Penny served alongside Weber for 10 years in the U.S. House of Representatives, when both represented Minnesota. Weber served six terms from 1980 to 1992.

Penny and Weber now co-direct the Humphrey Institute Policy Forum.

“Vin is a great political strategist,” Penny said. “Clearly his advice will be highly valuable.”

With the Internet, 24-hour cable news and other new media forms, political campaigns have many ways to reach citizens. Yet, Weber said the Republicans will “Get back to basics” in a grass-roots campaign.

“The most effective thing is individual contact,” he said.

Weber currently spends a majority of his time lobbying and volunteering in Washington D.C. He visits the University once or twice a month.

Penny said it is possible Weber will be at the University more in his new position.

“This may be fortuitous in a way because it may give us more opportunity to work together,” Penny said.

Despite the busy schedule, Weber agreed that spending more time at the University might be a positive effect of his new position.

“That’d be nice if it happens,” Weber said.

Branden Peterson welcomes comments at [email protected]