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The Republican strategy for 2006.

Mar 27, 2006, Vol. 11, No. 26 • By FRED BARNES
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A White House official says the choice strategy "is the means to go on offense," instead of merely defending the controversial or unpopular actions of the Bush administration. There are numerous "luscious targets" offered by Democrats, including the fact that two-thirds of House Democrats voted against the reauthorization of the Patriot Act and three-fourths of congressional Democrats opposed the president's tax cuts.

One issue that needs to be developed is the economy, according to Blunt. "People take a strong economy for granted. We have to show that this didn't just happen," but is the result of Republican policies like tax cuts. Republican candidates will argue that if Democratic policies had been followed, a strong economic recovery would not have occurred. And job creation--243,000 in February--would have been weaker.

Mehlman's confidence notwithstanding, will Republican efforts to keep the election debate from focusing on Bush really work? The media undoubtedly won't play along. Some Republicans are bound to trash Bush, figuring that it will give them the best chance of winning. Worse, if Bush falters badly, a referendum on him may be unavoidable. Still, is there a better strategy for Republicans in what looks like an unfriendly year for them? If there is, I haven't heard of it.

Fred Barnes is executive editor of The Weekly Standard and author of Rebel-in-Chief (Crown Forum).