Goffstown, NH (CNSNews.com) - With his poll numbers continuing to fall, Texas Governor George W. Bush responded with an emphatic "no" when asked by CNSnews.com yesterday whether he might lose the February 1st New Hampshire presidential primary.
"People in New Hampshire are making up their minds. . . . I have a lot of work to do," Bush said, following an endorsement by 60 law enforcement personnel at a local restaurant.
Questioned about a survey released Thursday by a Manchester-based pollster which finds him trailing Arizona Sen. John McCain by seven points, an uncomfortable Bush avoided discussing the numbers, but responded, "People in New Hampshire take a good hard look at the candidates. . . . [P]olls bounce around."
Characterizing McCain as "a good man," Bush added, "I think I'll do a better job."
Key Bush supporters in the state also minimized the latest surveys, all of which show McCain leading or the two locked in a statistical dead heat.
"I've never used a poll in my 22 years in politics," said U.S. Sen. Judd Gregg, the candidate's New Hampshire state chairman. "Polls mean nothing in this state...what we have here is a very tight race. We will run hard and continue to get out the governor's positive message."
Joel Miaola, the governor's chief staffer in the state and a long time assistant to Gregg, insisted Bush has not been stiff during debate appearances with other Republicans. "That's only a media perception...no one else believes that."
Miaola also denied Bush is too scripted during debates and news conferences and seems ill at ease, when forced to answer questions.
"I don't really respond to any of that . . . he'll continue to do what he's been doing . . . he'll take his positive message from Main Street to Main Street."
Once under criticism for not visiting the state enough, Bush has stepped up his appearances in the last two weeks, which seemed to be of relief to Miaola. "His appearances have certainly picked up and we will see a lot of him between now and February 1st."
"There's only one poll than means anything and that's the poll voters will cast on February 1st. We're on message and we have the best organization in the state," said Robb Thompson, a key Bush advisor and the son of former New Hampshire Gov. Meldrim Thompson.
During a brief press conference, following the law enforcement endorsement, and in response to what he would do about crime, Bush said he would arrest people who illegally use and sell weapons and enforce all laws now on the books, something he insisted the Clinton Administration has failed to do.
Asked to discuss his strategy concerning Mid-east peace, Bush responded, "My strategy is not to impose a U.S. version of peace on others...my strategy is to serve as a catalyst."
On the Russian bombing of Chechnya, Bush offered no specifics on what he might do, but said, "The bombing of women and children is unacceptable."
Asked about the upcoming Russian elections, Bush said, "We can't pick and choose Russian winners and losers."