In the fall of 1991, George Bush saw his own attorney general defeated in an off-year Pennsylvania senatorial race: International Politics Assignment, UCL, UK

University University College London (UCL)
Subject International Politics

In the fall of 1991, George Bush saw his own attorney general defeated in an off-year Pennsylvania senatorial race. Richard Thornburgh, once a popular governor, fell victim to attacks by Harris Wofford, aging, politically inexperienced, unabashedly liberal college professor. The Democrats succeeded in a state that had rejected their candidates in every Senate election since 1962.

Curiously, the defeat came after Bush had presided over the fall of the Berlin Wall, the reunification of Germany, the democratization of Eastern Europe, and the resolution of the conflict in Nicaragua. If the voters had forgotten these early triumphs, Bush could brag that in the very year of the Pennsylvania election, he had won a spectacular victory in the Persian Gulf War negotiated a breathtaking arms control agreement with the Soviet Union, promised a further unilateral cut in nuclear weapons, supported Gorbachev in his final showdown with conservative forces within the Soviet Union, arranged the first international peace conference on the Middle East, helped achieve a
settlement among contending forces within Cambodia and facilitated a political settlement between blacks and whites in South Africa.

Admittedly, history had not yet quite come to an end. Disaster had struck the Philippines, the Serbs were fighting the Bosnians in Yugoslavia, and a military coup had reversed democratic tendencies in Haiti. But George Bush could tout foreign policy successes beyond the wildest imagination of his predecessors. Not surprisingly, Bush’s standing in the polls reached levels that none of his postwar predecessors could match, achieving a spectacular 87 percent in February 1991.

Harris Wofford ignored these accomplishments. The president, he said, was spending too much time on world affairs; more attention had to be given to domestic matters. Noting that the recovery from the 1990-1991 economic recession had petered out, Wofford emphasized how heartless George Bush had been in refusing to extend benefits to the unemployed. Health care costs were growing while millions of Americans were unable to secure medical insurance.

Even some of Bush’s foreign policy triumphs were dubious, Wofford claimed, alleging that the free trade negotiations with Mexico would cost Pennsylvania thousands of blue-collar jobs. By the end of the campaign, the
president’s travel abroad had actually become a political liability; Wofford’s campaign workers wore teeshirts celebrating Bush’s “Anywhere but America” world tour.

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