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The Campaigners-in-Chief

After campaigning today in Montana and Nevada, Bush -- who has spent the past few months stumping for Republicans who either reside in the reddest of states or face uphill races -- makes two appearances tomorrow in Missouri, which features perhaps the most competitive Senate contest in the country. Then he heads to a rally for Jim Nussle (R), who's engaged in an almost-equally competitive gubernatorial race. And on Saturday, the president heads back west to campaign for Colorado gubernatorial nominee Bob Beauprez (R) and vulnerable Rep. Marilyn Musgrave (R). 

If these next three days for Bush have one thing in common, it's that on each day, he's campaigning for a current GOP congressman running for governor -- Gibbons in Nevada, Nussle in Iowa, and Beauprez in Colorado -- who finds himself in a tougher-than-expected race. The reason (outside the allegations hovering over Gibbons): Serving in Congress has become an albatross, especially when its approval rating is as low at 16% in the NBC/WSJ poll. "The one thing people know about these guys is that they are members of Congress." Stuart Rothenberg of the nonpartisan Rothenberg Political Report tells First Read. "I think they have all been damaged by that."

Those three aren't alone. Rep. Tom Osborne (R), a football god in Nebraska, lost his gubernatorial primary earlier this year. Moreover, the other GOP congressmen running for governor this year, Mark Green in Wisconsin and Butch Otter in Idaho, are getting all they can handle. "[Otter's] running even," says Jennifer Duffy, who monitors gubernatorial races for the nonpartisan Cook Political Report. "What's that about? That shouldn't happen." And it's not just Republicans who are struggling -- Rep. Jim Davis (D) is trailing in his race for Florida governor.

About 1,000 tickets were distributed by the state Republican Party for Bush's stop in Montana today, the Billing Gazette reports. Bush will be joined by Burns and Republican candidates in other races on Tuesday's ballot. And when Bush visits Elko, NV today, he'll be the second president ever to do so.  

The Chicago Tribune previews Bush's campaign swing, and the paper notes that he "is stumping with the fervor of someone whose own office is at stake. And in many ways it is, considering the impact on the remaining two years of his presidency if the Democrats take control of the House and possibly the Senate."

The other campaigner-in-chief, First Lady Laura Bush, does a whirlwind four-state campaign tour today. First, she makes a stop in Michigan for Senate candidate Mike Bouchard (unfortunately, she'll miss Bouchard's later events with rockers Kid Rock and Uncle Kracker). Then she heads to Illinois, Iowa, and finally California.