George Bush has dealt with the failure of his “stay the course” strategy by pretending it never existed, but will other candidates who once abused the phrase follow suit? And will the media hold them accountable?
Media Matters for America:
In several other cases, Republican candidates have publicly distanced themselves from the “stay the course” rhetoric or claimed they never endorsed a “stay the course” strategy. But in covering these races, the media have failed to highlight these candidates’ prior use of the phrase:
* Sen. Rick Santorum (R-PA): In 2005, Santorum repeatedly aligned himself with Bush on Iraq. In an August 30, 2005, statement, he said, “The road has not been easy—America has lost many fine military personnel—but it is critical that we stay the course and give our people the support and recognition to enable them to spread democracy around the world.” On December 12, 2005, his spokesman told reporters that Santorum “does believe that things are going well over in Iraq” and “agrees with the president that we should stay the course.” And in a December 19, 2005, statement, Santorum noted, “The President has been clear, we will stay the course in Iraq to send a message to those who seek to destroy democracy and hurt innocent people.” But on the October 24, 7 p.m., edition of MSNBC’s Hardball, when asked by host Chris Matthews about Snow’s statement “that ‘stay the course’ no longer applies as a slogan for this administration’s policy,” Santorum responded: “Well, it’s never been my policy. I don’t know whether it’s been the administration’s policy or not, but it’s not been mine.” Matthews did not challenge Santorum’s statement.
* Rep. J.D. Hayworth (AZ-05): On April 14, 2004, Hayworth stated that Bush “made a strong, clear case for why we must not fail and he left no doubt in the minds of allies and adversaries alike that America will stay the course in Iraq until democracy is established and secure.” Further, during a June 15 floor statement in support of H.R. 861, he said, “This remains an imperfect world with mistakes and challenges that likewise remain, but let us stand steadfast, true to the course, true to the cause, true to freedom. Vote ‘yes’ on this resolution.” But during an October 23 debate, Hayworth appeared to follow the White House in abandoning the rhetoric. When his Democratic opponent, Harry Mitchell, called him a “cheerleader for a failed stay-the-course policy in Iraq,” Hayworth responded, “It’s not a matter of staying the course. It’s a matter of finishing the job, responding and changing tactics with the overall unapologetic goal of victory—victory to put down the forces of Islamofascism and see a democracy flourish in the troubled Middle East.” But while an October 24 AP article on the debate noted both comments, it failed to point out Hayworth’s previous statements that the United States must “stay the course” or stay “true to the course.”