Campaign 2000: Bush Bears Down

He's better in debates all over the airwaves, and he's quieted his G.O.P. doubters. But can the front runner go off script?

What's the best way to deliver an unpleasant message to George W. Bush? You say little, and let the evidence speak for itself. So, just after Christmas, when the Republican front runner returned to Texas after shaky moments in three debates, he was handed a tape. It had to be to the point because, as Bush told TIME last week aboard his campaign bus, "I'm not gonna watch hours of tapes of myself, and I don't want to rehash all those debates." But this tape was crystalline in its message: it had been carefully edited to exclude all the other candidates,...

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