Was she just hitching a ride or was she getting back on board? Spotted under the wing of Air Force One at Andrews Air Force Base this afternoon was none other than Karen Hughes, President Bush's most trusted message-maker. Hughes joined Bush on Marine One as the president flew back to the White House after a campaign tour that ended in Crawford, Texas. These days Hughes splits her time between Texas and Washington, where she now works at the State Department, trying--against all odds--to improve America's image around the world. So she may have just been commuting on board the president's plane. Or she may have been starting to craft a new message for the president in the most difficult political environment since he took the White House. Hughes is seen inside Bush's inner circle as the polar opposite of Karl Rove--she tries to stake a claim in the middle ground of American politics rather than stoke up the partisan base. If the Democrats win the House tonight--possibly forcing Bush to return to his Texas roots of bipartisan government--look for Hughes to be close nearby in the coming months, reminding him how to speak to the other side.
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