Grassley gives Bush 90 days to generate support, and moderate G.O.P. Representative Chris Shays of Connecticut says, "I would be surprised to see a bill passed by the House, Senate, and signed by the President in the next two years." Still, the White House is far from conceding defeat on its top legislative priority. "This is the beginning of the process, not the end," says a senior White House official. Bush will continue to travel a couple of days each week to the districts of G.O.P. lawmakers and "persuadable" Democrats. But tactics are getting rougher. Shadegg believes that liberal groups were behind the onslaught he faced in Phoenix, and the George Soros-funded Campaign for America's Future has launched newspaper ads accusing Louisiana Republican Jim McCrery of supporting Bush's plan because investment companies donated to his campaigns. A top Republican adviser says members are telling him they will need better ammunition before facing constituents again during the Easter recess.
If the momentum can't be turned around by then, an already difficult fight will start to look hopeless.