Matt Towery

James was right, and he used the issue to create a wedge that -- once Ross Perot's third-party candidacy was tossed in -- worked to elect Clinton.

The combination of Iraq and a threat and the economy should be of great concern to those Republicans vying for their party's nomination.

I believe this election is much like the 1980 battle between Carter and Reagan. A bad economy combined with a seemingly unsolvable international crisis -- the Iranian hostage crisis for Carter -- created huge discontent among the public.

The difference this time is that none of the GOP candidates for president are White House incumbents, as Carter was then for the Democrats. So there's no pressing need for the Republicans to resolve the international crisis prior to Election Day, as Carter needed to do.

Put another way, Bush and his general can make their small reductions in troops in Iraq and hurt only one person -- the coming GOP nominee.

Few remember that Jimmy Carter and his staff came close to negotiating freedom for the hostages just before the election. When the effort failed, Carter's pollster, Pat Caddell, had to inform Carter that the election would likely go to Reagan.

To his credit, Carter tried to resolve the Iranian issue. If Bush and the GOP presidential field remain steadfast in this "stay until we win" mindset, they will likely sentence the GOP to the same fate Carter faced. Defeat.

Matt Towery

Matt Towery is a pollster, attorney, businessman and former elected official. He served as campaign strategist for Congressional, Senate, and gubernatorial campaigns. His latest book is Newsvesting: Use News and Opinion to Grow Your Personal Wealth. Follow him on Twitter @MattTowery