[New Jersey's Republican gubernatorial candidate] Doug Forrester, in his first post-election interview, laid the blame for his loss in the governor's race last week directly at the feet of President Bush. He said the public's growing disaffection with Bush, especially after Hurricane Katrina, made it impossible for his campaign to overcome the built-in advantage Democrats have in a blue state like New Jersey.
"If Bush's numbers were where they were a year ago, or even six months ago, I think we would have won on Tuesday," Forrester said. "Katrina was the tipping point."
It's disheartening because, given the collapse in public opinion about Bush and the Republicans nationally, a state like New Jersey is ripe for almost complete domination by the Democrats, he said.
Bush's approval rating last week slid to 36 percent nationwide in one poll, an all-time low for him. In New Jersey, it was at 34 percent just before the election.
The president was one of few top-name Republicans not asked to campaign in New Jersey on behalf of Forrester and other GOP candidates this year.
Forrester, a major donor to the Bush re-election campaign, also credited Corzine for trying to link him to Bush. "It was not a foolish thing to pound that issue so hard," he said.
Asked to comment on Forrester's statements, the White House referred the topic to the Republican National Committee.
—"Forrester Says Bush's Troubles Tilted the Vote" by Deborah Howlett and Joe Donohue in the Nov. 13 Newark Star-Ledger