A Few Small Repairs

With Bush slipping in the polls, his message shop--led by Karen Hughes--tries to remake his image. Inside Dubya's failure to communicate

Karen Hughes didn't like what she was hearing. Sitting in the Roosevelt Room of the West Wing on the morning of June 21, she listened with pursed lips as Nick Calio, the White House legislative director, insisted that President Bush should threaten to veto the patients' bill of rights--legislation aimed at protecting people from the bureaucratic whims of profit-driven HMOs. The bill is badly flawed, Calio argued, and the V word is the only way to force Congress to make it more to Bush's liking. Hughes jumped into the fray. "Once we say veto," she replied, "that's all anyone's going to...

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