Bush's 2004 strategist says 'people's hair would be on fire' if Bush, Obama had used the White House as a re-election prop

Trump and Dr. Stephen Hahn
(Image credit: Brendan Smialowski/AFP/Getty Images)

President Trump walked from the White House to a stage on the South Lawn to give his Republican National Convention acceptance speech Thursday night, turning "the People's House" into "a partisan prop like no politician has ever done before," Michael D. Shear writes at The New York Times.

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"Previous presidents have sought to carefully navigate the propriety of mixing campaigning with governing," Shear noted, and while a few have announced their re-election campaigns from inside the White House, none has used it for such an "overtly political event," with "live crowds flanked by giant Jumbotrons on either side of the White House, serving as immense campaign billboards." If Barack Obama or George W. Bush had tried such a stunt during their re-election campaigns, "people's hair would be on fire," Bush's 2004 campaign chief strategist, Matthew Dowd, said on ABC News.

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"It's not only, I believe, unethical, misuse of government power," Dowd added. "It may be illegal, what's happening on the South Lawn, and a bad modeling of behavior in the midst of a COVID crisis."

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None of the Bushes participated in this year's RNC, nor did any Cheneys, Reagans, or McCains. Also, "several dozen former staffers from Sen. Mitt Romney's (R-Utah) presidential campaign, the George W. Bush administration, and the campaign and Senate staff of former Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) have signed on to an effort to elect Joe Biden," Politico reported Thursday. "For the Romney and McCain staffers, they're working to elect the same man they tried to defeat in 2012 and 2008, respectively." (Dowd was not among the Bush alumni who signed a pro-Biden letter.)

But perhaps Sen. Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.) had the most succinct, on-brand response to Trump's use of the White House as a campaign prop. Peter Weber

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Peter Weber

Peter Weber is a senior editor at TheWeek.com, and has handled the editorial night shift since the website launched in 2008. A graduate of Northwestern University, Peter has worked at Facts on File and The New York Times Magazine. He speaks Spanish and Italian and plays bass and rhythm cello in an Austin rock band. Follow him on Twitter.