The first 20 months of the 1990 election cycle were most memorable for the procession of issues that seemed to travel through a constantly revolving door. As each issue passed through the door, there were equally constant predictions that it was the issue that would define the campaign. Abortion, the congressional pay raise, congressional ethics, campaign finance reform and the role of special interests, flag desecration, budget deficits, the peace dividend, President Bush's switch on taxes, the savings and loan crisis, and finally, the upcoming recession all captivated the public and pundits alike. Iraq's invasion of Kuwait altered this "issue du jour" mentality, virtually eclipsing all other issues in August. As a result, with the public's collective mind focused on the Middle East and troop deployment rather than on campaigns, congressional ethics or domestic problems, the leads that most incumbents held during late summer seemed frozen in place.

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