Several Northeast Republicans Distancing Themselves From Bush As Election Draws Near
You probably won't see Rep. Jim Gerlach (R-PA) and President Bush together before Election Day.
When it comes to President Bush and the Republican Congress, Gerlach says voters in his suburban Philadelphia district are in a "sour mood."
That's why the two-term incumbent says "the name of the game" is to convince those same voters that he can be independent of his own party. He has turned his standard line about Bush -- "When I think he's wrong, I let him know" -- into a virtual campaign slogan, repeated in interviews and TV ads.
"It is a combination of things, from the war in Iraq to gas prices to what they are experiencing in their local areas," Gerlach said of the surly electorate whose decision he will know on Nov. 7.
It's a decision that several Republicans in Congress are facing, particularly in the Northeast, where Bush's popularity rating is a startling 28%. Republicans there -- a mix of moderates and conservatives -- are trying to portray themselves as independents in time for this November's voting.
Will they succeed? Gerlach's race against Democrat Lois Murphy is neck-and-neck, and the same can be said for a handful of other races in the region.