Bush Hits The Pause Button

By granting a reprieve to a convicted murderer, Bush highlights the first part of compassionate conservative. Will voters be impressed?

You can learn a lot about candidates who must preside over an execution while campaigning for the presidency. Voters got a snapshot of Bill Clinton when he interrupted his New Hampshire stumping to fly back to Little Rock, Ark., in 1992 and oversee the death of a brain-damaged prisoner convicted of murder. Some saw it as the best smell test of Clinton's ruthlessness, others as affirmation that he really wasn't a bleeding-heart liberal.

George W. Bush interrupted his own campaigning last week to make a decision that is also likely to shape voters' perceptions. After presiding over 131 executions--about one-fifth of...

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