The US Presidential Elections: Bush woos voters by sacking economic team

A beleaguered White House is wheeling almost its last big cannon from the locker by sending the hitherto near-invisible James Baker out to the front lines to do what the President himself has thus far signally failed to do: lay down a convincing strategy for the economy during a second Bush term.

In the seven weeks since he moved across from the State Department to become White House Chief of Staff, Mr Baker has kept the lowest of profiles, rarely sighted and - until he granted a couple of interviews immediately after the first presidential debate on Sunday - never heard in public.

But with Mr Bush's poll standings telling their own dismal story, all that is to change. First the President blurted out during the debate that if he is re-elected his old friend will stay on to take overall charge of domestic and economic policy. Now Mr Baker himself is to make an important speech on the economy later this week.

In the meantime, the White House has confirmed officially what has been an open secret since the Republican Convention in August: that a second term will see an entirely new economic team, to replace Richard Darman, the budget director, Nicholas Brady, the treasury secretary and Michael Boskin, head of the council of economic advisers. Underlining the intention to 'clean house', Mr Baker yesterday sent out a letter demanding the pro forma resignation of all senior administration appointees, dated from election day.

But it remains to be seen whether these moves will suffice to win round an electorate whose faith in Mr Bush's economic credentials is next to nil. Bill Clinton, the Democratic challenger, has already delivered the obvious retort: 'They've had a losing season and the coach wants to fire the team. In America when you have a losing season, the coach gets fired, not the team.'

Equally pertinently and with less partisanship, another question is being asked: If his economic policies are correct and matters are nowhere near as bad as imagined - as Mr Bush again insisted on Sunday - why should his chief policy-makers be swept out, lock, stock and barrel? To that the President has thus far provided no answer.

He is, however, continuing to savage Mr Clinton on his alleged Vietnam draft-dodging and organisation of rallies against the war while a Rhodes Scholar at Oxford. The latest broadside was delivered at 8.30am yesterday, when Mr Bush put in an unscripted, but deliberately calculated appearance live on the NBC Today show, during what was to have been a segment on the White House staterooms, with Barbara Bush acting as tour guide.

Yet again he insisted that Mr Clinton had not put his record wholly on the table. 'I think that's an issue. It's not an issue of patriotism, it's an issue of character.' Indeed, the Republican camp has evidently decided the 'character' question remains the Democrat's Achilles' heel, despite Mr Clinton's double-digit lead in the polls and every sign that voters at large are infinitely more concerned with recession in 1992 than with what may or may not have happened in Oxford 23 years ago.

His remarks were plainly a curtain-raiser for last night's vice- presidential debate between Dan Quayle, Al Gore, and Ross Perot's running mate, Admiral James Stockdale (retd).

Having avoided the draft by opting for the National Guard in Indiana, Mr Quayle is not exactly invulnerable on matters pertaining to Vietnam. He was none the less expected to hammer Mr Clinton on the subject, amid lingering speculation he might have some unexpected new revelation up his sleeve.

(Photograph omitted)

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Life and Style
Steve Shaw shows Kate how to get wet behind the ears and how to align her neck
healthSteven Shaw - the 'Buddha of Breaststroke' - applies Alexander Technique to the watery sport
News
A poster by Durham Constabulary
news
Sport
Cameron Jerome
footballCanaries beat Boro to gain promotion to the Premier League
Arts and Entertainment
Performers drink tea at the Glastonbury festival in 2010
music
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebookA unique anthology of reporting and analysis of a crucial period of history
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Guru Careers: Software Developer / C# Developer

£40-50K: Guru Careers: We are seeking an experienced Software / C# Developer w...

Guru Careers: Software Developer

£35 - 40k + Benefits: Guru Careers: We are seeking a Software Developer (JavaS...

SThree: Trainee Recruitment Consultant / Resourcer

£18000 - £23000 per annum + Commission: SThree: As a Trainee Recruitment Consu...

Ashdown Group: UI Developer - (UI, HTML, CSS, JavaScript, AngularJS)

£25000 - £40000 per annum: Ashdown Group: UI Developer - (UI, JavaScript, HTML...

Day In a Page

Abuse - and the hell that came afterwards

Abuse - and the hell that follows

James Rhodes on the extraordinary legal battle to publish his memoir
Why we need a 'tranquility map' of England, according to campaigners

It's oh so quiet!

The case for a 'tranquility map' of England
'Timeless fashion': It may be a paradox, but the industry loves it

'Timeless fashion'

It may be a paradox, but the industry loves it
If the West needs a bridge to the 'moderates' inside Isis, maybe we could have done with Osama bin Laden staying alive after all

Could have done with Osama bin Laden staying alive?

Robert Fisk on the Fountainheads of World Evil in 2011 - and 2015
New exhibition celebrates the evolution of swimwear

Evolution of swimwear

From bathing dresses in the twenties to modern bikinis
Sun, sex and an anthropological study: One British academic's summer of hell in Magaluf

Sun, sex and an anthropological study

One academic’s summer of hell in Magaluf
From Shakespeare to Rising Damp... to Vicious

Frances de la Tour's 50-year triumph

'Rising Damp' brought De la Tour such recognition that she could be forgiven if she'd never been able to move on. But at 70, she continues to flourish - and to beguile
'That Whitsun, I was late getting away...'

Ian McMillan on the Whitsun Weddings

This weekend is Whitsun, and while the festival may no longer resonate, Larkin's best-loved poem, lives on - along with the train journey at the heart of it
Kathryn Williams explores the works and influences of Sylvia Plath in a new light

Songs from the bell jar

Kathryn Williams explores the works and influences of Sylvia Plath
How one man's day in high heels showed him that Cannes must change its 'no flats' policy

One man's day in high heels

...showed him that Cannes must change its 'flats' policy
Is a quiet crusade to reform executive pay bearing fruit?

Is a quiet crusade to reform executive pay bearing fruit?

Dominic Rossi of Fidelity says his pressure on business to control rewards is working. But why aren’t other fund managers helping?
The King David Hotel gives precious work to Palestinians - unless peace talks are on

King David Hotel: Palestinians not included

The King David is special to Jerusalem. Nick Kochan checked in and discovered it has some special arrangements, too
More people moving from Australia to New Zealand than in the other direction for first time in 24 years

End of the Aussie brain drain

More people moving from Australia to New Zealand than in the other direction for first time in 24 years
Meditation is touted as a cure for mental instability but can it actually be bad for you?

Can meditation be bad for you?

Researching a mass murder, Dr Miguel Farias discovered that, far from bringing inner peace, meditation can leave devotees in pieces
Eurovision 2015: Australians will be cheering on their first-ever entrant this Saturday

Australia's first-ever Eurovision entrant

Australia, a nation of kitsch-worshippers, has always loved the Eurovision Song Contest. Maggie Alderson says it'll fit in fine