On an overcast Friday morning last month, White House aides ushered an influential group of conservative radio hosts into the Oval Office for a private audience with the president.
For an hour and a half, Mr. Bush discussed his case for the war in Iraq, his immigration proposals and even the personality of his Scottish terrier Barney, who scratched on the door during the session until the president relented and let him into the office, according to several hosts who attended.
The meeting, which was not announced on the president's public schedule, was part of an intensive Republican Party campaign to reclaim and re-energize a crucial army of supporters that is not as likely to walk in lockstep with the White House as it has in the past.
Conservative radio hosts are breaking with the Republican leadership in ways not seen in at least a decade, and certainly not since Rush Limbaugh's forceful advocacy of the party in 1994 spawned a new generation of stars[..]. Read on...