Bush Supporters Remain Upbeat About His Presidential Campaign

By Jim Burns | July 7, 2008 | 8:25 PM EDT

(CNSNews.com) - Despite defeats Tuesday in the Michigan and Arizona primaries, many supporters of Governor George W Bush remain upbeat and optimistic about his receiving the Republican presidential nomination at the GOP national convention in Philadelphia this summer.

House Republican Conference Chairman JC Watts (R-OK) told CNSNews.com that, despite the Tuesday defeats, the Bush campaign is as strong as ever.

"In Arizona, we didn't have any illusions that we were going to win in Arizona. In Michigan, we figured we'd probably win the thing by 12 to 15 points, had the Democrats and Independents not played the spoiler, especially the Democrats. Governor Bush got close to 80 percent of the Republican vote, and I think it's kind of a sad commentary that when you get 80 percent of the Republican vote, you lose the Republican primary. But we feel good about the Republican vote yesterday (Tuesday)," Watts told CNSNews.com.

Watts doesn't think Bush needs to change his campaign strategy in the upcoming primaries.

"I think his message is resonating. I think we're going to see the real strength of the Bush campaign and his organization as we go into these closed primaries. When Republicans determine the nominee or when Republicans determine the winner, as they did in Iowa, as they did in Delaware, as they did in South Carolina, Governor Bush does fine and he wins overwhelmingly," Watts told CNSNews.com.

Watts also believes Bush's defeat in Michigan may mean Republicans may have to re-examine the presidential primary process.

"We're all kind of scratching our heads and hey, here's a guy that got almost 80 percent of the Republican vote in a Republican primary, but he didn't win. The Governor came out really well. But I think this is all going to have us taking a look at the process to see how we make sure that Republican voters determine their nominee and Geoffrey Fieger- type of Democrats," Watts said.

Another big Bush supporter in the House, Representative Philip Crane (R-IL), ranking Republican on the House Ways and Means Committee, is optimistic Bush will do well in the upcoming presidential primaries and will especially do well and win the Illinois presidential primary, the congressman's spokesman George Sigalos told CNSNews.com. Illinois will have its primary on March 24th.

However, Senator Mike DeWine (R-OH), national co-chairman of McCain's presidential campaign, thinks McCain's "stunning" victory in Michigan over Bush could be a preview of what will happen in Ohio's March 7th primary.

"Ohio is very similar in many ways to Michigan. It's a diverse state, a major industrial state, a must-win state. The race in Ohio will be very competitive, but McCain certainly can win Ohio," DeWine said in a statement released from his Capitol Hill office.

DeWine also said McCain's campaign likely won't change it's strategy or message in the days leading up to the Ohio primary.

"What people like about him is that what you see is what you get," DeWine said.

Meanwhile, Governor Bob Taft (R-OH), the head of Bush's campaign in Ohio, said that Ohio would be an important state for Bush to campaign in no matter who won the Michigan primary.