Bush’s 4 years may be difficult

An event at the University dealt with the president’s second term and re-election.

Kari Petrie

A population increase for Republican Southern states makes it harder for Democrats to win presidential elections, said a visiting scholar Monday at the University’s Center for the Study of Politics.

“It makes the Democrats’ task difficult,” Norm Ornstein said while speaking at an event at the Humphrey Institute of Public Affairs building.

The event discussed President George W. Bush’s re-election and second term. Though Bush received a mandate in the Nov. 2 election, the Republican Party is not as solidified as it should be to ensure Bush succeeds with his agenda, political analysts said.

Alexis Simendinger, a White House correspondent for National Journal, and Ron Haskins, a senior fellow at the Brookings Institution, also spoke.

The population increase in the South, plus the president’s push to get out the vote in nonbattleground states, gave him a popular-vote victory, Ornstein said.

West Virginia becoming a Republican state helped the party as well, and part of the change might be because 71 percent of the state’s families have guns, he said.

“Those issues make a difference,” he said.

Bush’s Cabinet will have eight new members by the time he is inaugurated in January. Simendinger said these changes reflect the president’s desire to have a group that supports him, rather than one with new ideas.

“The president is trying to stabilize the government into the direction he wants,” she said.

Despite the president’s seemingly strong support, he will face friction with other party members, which could slow his plan for the country, Ornstein said.

He dismissed the idea that moral issues had a large effect on the election.

“When the president won by a few thousand votes in Ohio, everything matters,” he said.

Ornstein said Bush will have a tough time getting his party to follow his agenda, because members are already aligning behind possible 2008 presidential candidates.

Bush also will have to work harder with Democrats because many of the party’s moderate and conservative members were voted out of office, he said.

“The president must move away from his base to get Democrats,” Ornstein said.

Haskins said the big issues facing the president in the next four years are Social Security and tax reform.

But it will be a challenge to get the programs passed because there is a lack of enthusiasm among Republicans, he said.

Haskins, who is a Republican, said Republicans in office aren’t as concerned about balancing the budget as they should be.

“The Republicans spend like sailors,” he said.

But Haskins said he still thinks there will be decreases in funding for programs such as Medicare and Social Security.

“(Congress) will be hell-bent to cut spending,” he said.

Haskins said the country is in the early stages of a financial crisis, because spending on those programs is growing so quickly.

“And nobody will do anything until we enter chaos,” he said.