Hastert Urges Bush to Not Sit On Lead

By Jim Burns | July 7, 2008 | 8:24 PM EDT

Update; includes quotes from Bush campaign

(CNSNews.com) -House Speaker Dennis Hastert (R-IL) expects Texas Governor George Bush to be the GOP presidential nominee in 2000 but says there's a year to go and a lot of things can happen in a year.

But the Bush campaign does not assume the nomination is already belongs to the Texas governor. A spokesman for Bush's campaign in Austin, Texas told CNSNews.com, "Governor Bush is taking nothing for granted and is working hard to earn the nomination."

Hastert said, "I think if I was a betting man I'd bet on George W. Bush. I think he's got a lot of things together. His fundraising's good; his message seems to be accepted well by the American people."

However, in an interview with The Hill, a Capitol Hill newspaper, Hastert advised Bush not to sit on his lead. "I've been around this game for a long time, and in the job that I had before I got into politics I coached 16 year old kids. And you never sat on a lead very long, I tell you."

Before entering politics, Hastert coached high school wrestling in Illinois. He was named House Speaker, nine months ago.

Bush, meanwhile, picked up another endorsement on Wednesday. New Mexico Lieutenant Governor Walter Bradley commended Bush's ideas on education, taxes and his compassionate conservatism. Bradley also said Bush, "as a Western governor, has a keen understanding of the complex water and natural resource challenges facing our region in the coming years."

Bradley joins New Mexico Representatives Joe Skeen and Heather Wilson and New Mexico's senior US Senator Pete Domenici in New Mexico political endorsements of Bush.