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Wednesday, 6 November, 2002, 19:25 GMT
Press watches Bush waltz to victory
President Bush at rally in Cedar Rapids, Iowa
President Bush can play a strong hand in Congress
The Republicans' historic mid-term election triumph is widely seen in the US press as the fruit of President George Bush's tireless coast-to-coast campaigning.

The victory is embellished with superlatives - headlines such as "Republicans waltz across Texas" in the Houston Chronicle and the Republican "elephant stampede" in Ohio, as the Cincinnati Post puts it.

Bush provided the energy and message that produced a surge of Republican votes in crucial battlegrounds

Washington Post

But the Cincinnati Post also reflects the cynical views of some voters, with a cartoon showing a man reading the newspaper to his wife and saying "the mudslinger beat the muckraker".

The New York Times says President Bush "did his utmost to personalise the campaign, appealing for allies to help him push through his programme, especially his domestic security bill, and raising a record amount of money".

But the paper also says the mid-term campaign was dull, with "pep rallies devoid of pep and stump speeches that stirred few voters".

Governor Jeb Bush (right) embraces George Bush Senior
The Bush dynasty triumphed in Florida

The Baltimore Sun says the president "made an enormous personal investment in many races, putting his reputation on the line by repeatedly visiting such states as South Dakota, Missouri and Minnesota to try to influence tight Senate races".

President Bush had much at stake in Florida, where his younger brother John Ellis 'Jeb' was running for a second term as governor.

He won comfortably against Democrat challenger Bill McBride in the key sunshine state, where George Bush's presidential victory was decided in 2000 after a chaotic vote count.

The Orlando Sentinel comments that Governor Bush "can accomplish tremendous things for the state - but only if he remains true to the compassionate campaign message that so clearly resonated with voters".

It says he should "resist calls by right-wing ideologues to further reduce the state tax burden," strive to attract new business and diversify Florida's tourism-dependent economy.

'Nation divided'

The San Francisco Chronicle says President Bush "had put his prestige on the line on behalf of Republican candidates - and it paid off".

Neither party entered the fray this year with much of an issue arsenal. Republicans largely basked in President Bush's reflected popularity. Democrats trotted out the old Social Security bogeyman

Baltimore Sun

But the paper stresses that two years after "the most disputed presidential election in history" the United States "remains a nation divided".

It notes that the race in California was surprisingly competitive, despite the fact that the Democrats had dominated recent elections.

For Democratic Governor Gray Davis, who spent more than $50m to beat his Republican rival, "the margin of victory had to be sobering," the paper says.

The Kansas City Star also has some sobering advice for the mid-term winners.

The paper says they must now "figure out how to reconcile campaign promises with the unpleasant reality of a $6.3 trillion federal debt".

An editorial in the Baltimore Sun comments that "neither party has been able to decisively win the battle of ideas".

"Without a clear demand from voters, there is little likelihood that Congress will take on the truly tough issues, such as preparing Social Security and Medicare for the onslaught of the baby boomers," the paper says.

"Such leadership would have to come from Mr Bush, but he may not be inclined to the task, either, between waging war on Iraq and setting out on his own re-election campaign."

Key races




See also:

06 Nov 02 | Americas
06 Nov 02 | Americas
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