And someone like Bush is the ultimate incumbent -- higher profile than any other human being on the planet. If half the people don't want him reelected by this point, it's tough for him to convince voters otherwise.
There's essentially only one tactic open to him to win this thing -- drive Kerry's negatives higher than his. And to raise an opponent's negatives, you have to run negative ads. And given Bush's downward spiral, Rove has apparently decided that sooner is better than later:
"John Kerry: Wrong on taxes. Wrong on defense," says a female announcer in a new 30-second ad that will begin airing in battleground states.
A second ad, also premiering Thursday, tells voters they face choices on the economy, health care and the war on terrorism.
"We can go forward with confidence, resolve and hope. Or we can turn back to the dangerous illusions that terrorists are not plotting and outlaw regimes are no threat," Bush says in the second ad, without mentioning Kerry by name.
Bush's toughest ad, titled "100 days," envisions Kerry's first three months in office. "John Kerry's plan: To pay for new government spending, raise taxes by at least $900 billion."
"On the war on terror: Weaken the Patriot Act used to arrest terrorists and protect America. And he wanted to delay defending American until the United Nations approved."
What’s most interesting about this new ad is what’s not in it. This President can’t talk about his positive vision for America, because at each turn he has put this nation on the wrong track. It’s time he pays attention to that old saying, when you’ve dug yourself into a ditch, stop digging.
I am running for President because I want to change the direction of this country. If I’m elected, we’ll create new and better jobs, lower the cost of health care, and get Bush’s runaway deficits under control.
What you’re seeing is the last gasp of air from the failed Bush Administration that has no record to run on and nothing but more of the same failed policies to offer the American people.