Can Bush make room for the Republican nominee?

As I wrote the other day this very compressed primary calendar is going to have a big impact on governing and Congress this year. What is Bush - Mr. either you are with us or against us - going to do with the new GOP nominee for 8 or 9 months? How will they work with Republicans in Congress to develop a strategy to go after the Democratic nominee who may very well be a sitting Senator? Who will be calling the shots? And how will they get along if it is either Huckabee or McCain, who are now clearly distancing themselves from Bush?

Consider this exchange with Senator McCain from Meet the Press yesterday:

MR. RUSSERT: And you said something that caught my attention. I want to play it for our viewers and come back and talk about it.

SEN. McCAIN: Mm-hmm.

MR. RUSSERT: Here's John McCain.


SEN. McCAIN: I think we all know that the American people have lost their trust and confidence in their government of the United States. Our failures at Katrina, the war in Iraq, corruption and spending in Washington. We know that.

MR. RUSSERT: Lost their trust and confidence.

SEN. McCAIN: Mm-hmm.

MR. RUSSERT: Katrina, the war in Iraq and spending.

SEN. McCAIN: Mm-hmm. Mm-hmm.

MR. RUSSERT: That's a denunciation of George W. Bush.

SEN. McCAIN: Well, it's certainly a criticism, but I also have pointed out, as I did last night in the debate, we've not had another attack on the United States of America. I think he deserves credit for that. He led this nation after 9/11 and united us. There's a number-at least he's had the good judgment, finally, to change the strategy in Iraq so that we now have a winning strategy. Look, I think the president of the United States has made mistakes, but I would say the biggest one is spending. That, that's what our base is unhappy about. That's what I'm going to fix. That's what I've fought against for years, and I've done so pretty effectively. Saved the taxpayers a couple of billion dollars in a Boeing tanker deal. I-the reason-I led the investigation of Jack Abramoff. But our base has got to have-restore-got to have their confidence and their trust restored because they have lost it, and there's no doubt about that. And spending...

MR. RUSSERT: But you say...

SEN. McCAIN: ...on the part of Congress has been one of the big factors. The approval rating of Congress is far lower than it is of the president.

MR. RUSSERT: But Katrina and Iraq...

SEN. McCAIN: Yes. Yes.

MR. RUSSERT: ...and spending, that's George Bush.

SEN. McCAIN: Yes. It's, it's, it's George Bush with a lot of help from a lot of people, and one of them was Donald Rumsfeld, who I said I had no confidence in, and I believe that he should be-should have resigned long before he did.

There is a lot of drama left in the GOP race this year.