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Chimpy's SocSec disinformation road show continues, folks aren't buying it down South

President Bush discusses his Social Security dismantling plan to an audience at the Centenary College of Louisiana in Shreveport, La., Friday, March 11, 2005. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite); graphic:

Guess he might need to bring out some tap dancers and an organ grinder with a monkey out to help drum up support. Here’s how a swing through Tennessee went. The GOP rep Bush was there to shore up didn’t even bother to show up for a photo op with Chimpy — that’s when you know they are on the retreat.(Tennesseean):

The president’s Social Security travels have taken him to 14 states since his Feb. 2 State of the Union address, with visits to Florida, Colorado, New Mexico and Arizona to come later this month.

Many polls show public skepticism of Bush’s plan.

A survey released yesterday by The Associated Press showed that 56% of respondents disapproved of Bush’s handling of Social Security, compared with 37% who approved. Other recent polls have found that support for Bush’s plan has declined since the president launched his sales campaign last month.

”President Bush is having a hard time selling his plan on Social Security because there is no elite consensus that the problem is as serious as he paints it,” said John Geer, director of political science graduate studies at Vanderbilt University. ”It’s going to be a tough sell.”

In both stops yesterday, Bush spoke highly of President Franklin D. Roosevelt, the Democrat who established a public retirement safety net. ”Franklin Roosevelt did a good thing when he set up Social Security. It has worked,” Bush said in Memphis. ”And so the discussion today is not to get rid of Social Security; the discussion today is to build on what Franklin Roosevelt put in place.” [What a crock of sh*t.]

…Many Republicans are worried about the political fallout if they tangle with the popular government retirement program. So, in hopes of making it easier for more Republicans to go along with him, Bush has begun emphasizing the need to tackle the less controversial issue of the program’s long-term solvency. He also has focused much of his traveling on areas represented by GOP lawmakers who are either still on the fence or are taking heat for backing his proposal.

Bush’s Memphis stop was aimed partly at Rep. Marsha Blackburn, R-Brentwood, whose 7th District touches the fringes of both the Music City and the Bluff City. The Democratic National Committee ran ads to coincide with Bush’s visit, slamming the president’s private accounts proposal and telling listeners to encourage Blackburn to oppose it.

Blackburn, who did not return to Tennessee from Washington to appear with Bush, has been supportive of creating private accounts, but only after the Social Security system’s long-term solvency has been addressed, her spokesman, Ryan Loskarn, said.

All of Bush’s events the last two days have been infiltrated by protesters — sometimes more than one. Bush was interrupted four times by people in the Memphis crowd trying to shout out an alternative message. One woman was escorted out; the rest were drowned out by the president’s remarks and the largely supportive audience.

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Pam Spaulding

Pam Spaulding