Is Mark Kennedy a Bush Puppet?
Kennedy recently explained that voters want "change in the climate in Washington." If that is so — and it surely is — he will need to explain why he has demonstrated so little impact on Washington's dysfunctional atmosphere over the last several years.
He is also trying to have it both ways in regard to his association with the Republican president, George W. Bush, who is about as popular in Minnesota right now as Green Bay Packers quarterback Brett Favre. Kennedy is happy to take in campaign money with the help of Bush and other Washington Republicans, but at the same time he's trying to maintain a safe distance. Congressional Quarterly showed Kennedy agreeing with Bush 87 percent of the time in 2005 (a drop from 97 percent in 2004), but Klobuchar is having a field day portraying the conservative Kennedy as a veritable clone of the president.
Of course, guilt by association only goes so far. On many of the issues Kennedy and Bush have agreed upon, so have most voters. The fact that Kennedy is a true conservative won't, in itself, defeat him in a Senate fight some are calling the most pivotal in the nation. Kennedy has already established that he is a formidable campaigner, and Minnesota is not nearly the bastion of liberalism it once was.
Even so, if the race comes down to who is more independent — Kennedy or Klobuchar — the challenger enjoys the clear advantage.