Matthew J. Dowd, the chief campaign strategist for President George W. Bush and for "California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger's reelection campaign" , is a founding member of the new online political and social networking community HOTSOUP.com, which is to debut in October 2006. Dowd will also continue working with his own consulting firm. 
In the June 12, 2004, New York Times Jim Rutenberg reported that Dowd "is not just the man who conducts the president's polling. He also works to control public perceptions about where the presidential race stands, perhaps more aggressively than many other campaign aides in his position. ... 'I just want to make sure people have a realistic view,' said Mr. Dowd, whose official title is 'chief strategist,' in an interview Friday. 'There are highs that are going to go down, there are lows that are going to go up. I'm not just trying to argue with news that is perceived as bad - I'm trying to argue against wrong news, good or bad, like a newspaper journalist might.' Underlying the strategy is the belief among political strategists with both parties that poll results can become self-fulfilling prophecies, contributing greatly to the direction of a campaign by causing enthusiasm or demoralization." 
Disillusionment With The Bush Administration
In an interview with New York Times reporter Jim Rutenberg, Dowd revealed the extent of his disillusionment with the Bush Administration. In a profile, published on April 1 2007, Dowd revealed he initially joined the Republican campaign team out of admiration for Bush. "It's almost like you fall in love," he said. "I was frustrated about Washington, the inability for people to get stuff done and bridge divides. And this guy’s personality — he cared about education and taking a different stand on immigration." 
But in 2007 it is a different story: "I really like him, which is probably why I’m so disappointed in things. I think he’s become more, in my view, secluded and bubbled in," he said. Dowd said that in the aftermath of the September 11, 2001 attacks on the U.S. Bush "missed a real opportunity to call the country to a shared sense of sacrifice." He said he believed that Donald Rumsfeld should have been fired after the revelations of the Abu Ghraib torture scandal. "When you fall in love like that," he said, "and then you notice some things that don't exactly go the way you thought, what do you do? Like in a relationship, you say ‘No no, no, it’ll be different.'" 
In 2005 Bush's response to the Hurricane Katrina disaster and his refusal to meet Cindy Sheehan further fuelled his doubts. "I had finally come to the conclusion that maybe all these things along do add up," he said. "That it's not the same, it's not the person I thought." 
Working on the 2006 reelection campaign of California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger of California, prompted him to reflect on the different political tactics. "I think we should design campaigns that appeal not to 51 percent of the people," he said, “but bring the country together as a whole." He also believes that the U.S. should withdraw from Iraq. "If the American public says they’re done with something, our leaders have to understand what they want," Mr. Dowd said. "They’re saying, ‘Get out of Iraq.’" 
In response, two of Bush's spokespersons -- Dan Bartlett and Dana Perino -- sought to portray Dowd's disagreements with the Bush Administration as being due to "personal" reasons, including that his son was about to be deployed to the war in Iraq and that he had been divorced. "Obviously, war brings out a lot of emotions in different people, and possibly changing emotions, as he laid out in the New York Times. And, obviously, not being a close friend of his, I don't know as well as others might about the personal journey he's been on over the past couple of years," Perino said in a briefing. 
A reporter challenged Perino: "And so it's really about him, and not about you, about the President, the White House, and the things that he's seen go wrong?" In response she said "No, he might very well have those opinions, but we can respectfully disagree with -- for example, where I think one of the allegations was that the President is isolated." 
With Ron Fournier and Douglas B. Sosnik, "Applebee's America. How Successful Political, Business, and Religious Leaders Connect with the New American Community", Simon & Schuster, September 2006 (Hardcover) ISBN 0743287185 / ISBN 9780743287180.
Related SourceWatch Resources
- Bush-Cheney '04 Inc.
- Carter Eskew
- Michael Feldman
- Ron Fournier
- Joe Lockhart
- Mark McKinnon
- Chip Smith
- "Interview with Jim Rutenberg", New York Times, April 1, 2007.
- Jim Rutenberg, "Bush Aide Watches Polls and Public Perceptions," New York Times, June 12, 2004.
- Howard Kurtz, "Online Venture Seeks To Elevate the Debate. Civility Is In, Rancor Out on Web Site Begun by Democratic, GOP Strategists," Washington Post, July 12, 2006.
- Ronald Brownstein, "Political Website With No Party Lines. A group of campaign veterans from both sides wants to cool the rhetoric and stir debate," Los Angeles Times, July 12, 2006.
- Jim Rutenberg, "Ex-Aide Says He’s Lost Faith in Bush", New York Times, April 1, 2007.
- "Bush Press Aides Hit Dowd -- But Admit A Son Heading for War Can Influence Views", Editor & Publisher, April 2, 2007.