WASHINGTON TODAY: Bush, Buchanan Close Family Ranks
WASHINGTON (AP) _ For both President Bush and Republican challenger Patrick Buchanan, politics is family business. But that doesn’t mean harmony always prevails.
Bush has sent first lady Barbara Bush out to campaign for him in New Hampshire and his campaign on Tuesday announced that son Jeb Bush would serve as Bush’s Florida campaign manager.
His eldest son, George W. Bush, co-owner of the Texas Rangers baseball team, also is a key adviser to the campaign - the same function he served in 1988.
During the 1988 campaign, all of Bush’s five grown children actively campaigned for the ticket.
Meanwhile, Buchanan, who like Bush comes from a large family, has named his sister Angela ″Bay″ Buchanan as his campaign chairman.
Life can sometimes be hard for those who run afoul of family members who also serve as political advisers - as aides to both Bush and Buchanan have found out.
Former Chief of Staff John Sununu, for instance, was pulled aside by George W. Bush late last year and told that his abrasive tactics had become a liability for the president. Sununu resigned a few days later.
Tony Fabrizio, who had been Buchanan’s national pollster and strategist, quit the conservative commentator’s campaign earlier this week after a series of run-ins with Bay Buchanan.
Fabrizio, who has advised New York Sen. Alfonse D’Amato and Kansas Sen. Bob Dole’s 1988 presidential campaign, said his departure resulted from a dispute over ″a matter of control.″
″They see the campaign in one way and I saw it in another,″ he said.
Yet some Bush and Buchanan family members probably won’t be heard from this year.
Don’t expect Bush’s son Neil to do much active campaigning. His links to the savings and loan scandals seem likely to keep the Denver businessman benched for the entire campaign season.
And another Buchanan sister, Kathleen Buchanan Connolly, isn’t expected to do much campaigning for her brother. She’ll stay loyal to the Bush-Quayle ticket.
She works for Bill Kristol, Vice President Quayle’s chief of staff.
Barbara Bush has told reporters that damage to the first family’s $3 million vacation home in Kennebunkport, Maine, was not as extensive as first feared and that she and the president may be able to spend a night there as soon as next month.
The home, severely damaged in a ferocious storm in October, is slowly being repaired.
Some initial estimates of damage ranged as high as $1 million. But Mrs. Bush has said that most of the repairs to the living quarters probably can be covered by the family’s flood insurance policy, which covers up to about $180,000 in damages.
The Bushes have traditionally gone to their oceanfront home on a weekend around Valentine’s Day. That would be extra convenient this year - since the primary in neighboring New Hampshire is Feb. 18.
She said she didn’t know for sure whether she and the president would spend a night there in early February.
After all, Bush campaign advisers may not want the public to see too many images of Bush at his 21-room vacation home in this recession-troubled election year.
While Bush found himself surrounded by bicycles and slides when he cut the ribbon at the opening of a Toys R Us store in Japan Tuesday, his personal choice in playthings tends more toward high-tech electronics.
Bush has the ultimate electronic recreation center set up in his private den in the family quarters of the White House - a wooden console with a giant television screen in the middle, surrounded by four smaller sets with four separate VCRs on top. He operates the system with an outsized remote control.
Bush acknowledged to C-SPAN’s Brian Lamb recently that he catches flak from Barbara, who promotes reading, about his television viewing habits.
Bush said he watches ″quite a bit. I watch the news, and I don’t like to tell you this because you’ll think I’m into some weird TV freak here, but I have a set upstairs that has five screens on it.
″And I can sit on my desk and whip - just punch a button. If I see one off on the corner, that moves in to the middle screen, the other one goes off to the side, then I can run up and down the dial.
″And you can record all four going at once while you’re watching. I don’t quite know how to do that yet,″ said the president.
″But I cite this because Barbara accuses me of being ... plugged into TV too often.″