Bush-McCain Contest Dominates GOP Governors' Meeting

By Jerry Miller | July 7, 2008 | 8:25 PM EDT

(CNSNews.com) - At a weekend meeting of the National Governors' Association, most state leaders continued to voice their support for fellow Governor George W Bush, while some wondered if they had jumped too quickly on the Bush bandwagon.

The weekend meeting in Washington, D.C. was dominated by talk of the Republican presidential contest.

Utah's Republican Gov. Michael Leavitt, an early Bush supporter and chairman of this year's governors' association meeting, continues to support for Bush. "It yet will turn out the way we want it to. If I were George Bush, I would not for a minute want to trade places with John McCain."

Still, some Republican governors and their aides openly expressed concerns about the speed with which Bush has spent $60 million of his $70 million campaign war chest. They're also concerned about some of the strategic decisions that led to the spending.

Several wondered whose idea it was to for Bush to spend $2 million on television ads in McCain's home state of Arizona, where McCain failed to run even a single spot and where Bush predictably lost last week.

Connecticut Gov. John Rowland called the Texan's decision to appear at South Carolina's Bob Jones University "stupid," while others openly acknowledged the school's anti-Catholic tendencies could hurt Bush in the heavily Catholic northeast.

Leavitt appeared on national talk shows where he insisted there have been no defections among the governors supporting Bush.

Meanwhile, in an effort to put the best face on the Bush situation, Arkansas Governor and Bush supporter Mike Huckabee said of McCain, "There's a whole bunch of U.S. Senators who know John McCain, who have worked with John McCain and have joined us in supporting George W. Bush."

Some GOP aides, whose bosses are supporting Bush, pointed to a new CNN poll, which has Bush leading McCain in California by a margin of 48 to 23 percent. The state holds its primary March 7th. Some said Bush would do well in western and southern states, which vote on March 14th.

Democratic governors were quietly happy to watch their GOP colleagues defend Bush, as McCain closes the gap in key primary states. With a twinkle in his eyes, Maryland Gov. Parris Glendening said, "One never takes glee from the anguish and destruction of someone else."

"But when you look at the other side and see what is going on, it can only help the Democrats," said the Democratic governor.