BUSH: BLACKWELL IS A �NUT.� The Toledo Blade pointed out yesterday that buried on page 347 of Bob Woodward�s State of Denial is this not so flattering Bush remark about Ken Blackwell, who other Republicans -- including the President�s brother -- have touted as a rising GOP star:

Mr. Woodward writes that around 3 a.m. - which Mr. Bush called "the latest I've been up since college" - the White House was expecting to hear from Ohio's top election official. That, of course, was Mr. Blackwell, who was co-chairman of the Bush campaign in the Buckeye State.

"Blackwell," Mr. Woodward writes, "a former black-power-saluting student leader who had shifted to the Republican Party, was a lone ranger who shunned party discipline. 'I'm the President of the United States,' Mr. Bush said fuming, 'waiting on a secretary of state who is a nut.'"

What did that mean, exactly? Surely Bush -- who used Blackwell�s help to make the exploitation of the fundamentalist Christian vote a particularly lucrative effort in Ohio -- wasn�t calling Blackwell a wingnut, as other Republicans in Ohio are now doing. And certainly Bush could not have been complaining about Blackwell�s partisan oversight of the election process, after that other nut, Katherine Harris, did such a good job for him in 2000. Was sleep deprivation getting to the delicate presidential disposition? Or is there some other Blackwell nuttiness that's a GOP secret, and does it have anything to do with Blackwell�s tanking gubernatorial campaign?

--Sarah Posner

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