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President rocks Red Rocks

Bush asks Colorado to see red on Election Day

By Leigh E. Rich

George W. Bush didn’t waste time when he finally arrived at Red Rocks Amphitheatre on Columbus Day:

“I’ve come back to this beautiful part of our country to ask for the vote.”

Though President Bush pleaded with the filled outdoor auditorium to pull the lever in the red direction come Election Day, he mainly preached to his own choir.

Introduced by Gen. Tommy Franks, U.S. Rep. Bob Beauprez, Senate candidate Pete Coors and Broncos Coach Mike Shanahan, Bush covered the gambit of his campaign stump for the crowd—already sufficiently riled in his favor with the help of several Bronco cheerleaders.

The president recycled well-worn campaign trail lines, especially with regard to First Lady Laura and his opponent’s alleged ability to oscillate on the issues, and he trotted out new ones—a preview of what would come Wednesday during the final presidential debate.

His new tag line regarding the Massachusetts senator, much to the delight of the crowd, was: “He can run, but he cannot hide.”

“Several statements (Kerry) made the other night” at the second presidential debate, Bush told the Red Rocks group, “simply didn’t pass the credibility test. With a straight face, he said he had only one position on Iraq.”

The throng predictably erupted in cheers of “Flip-flop! Flip-flop!”

President Bush spent the better part of his “W Rocks” rally speech taking Kerry to task—for flipping his position on Iraq, for promising to roll back tax cuts for those over the $200,000 mark, and for miscalculating the cost of his spending plans.

“You know, after listening to his litany of complaints and his dour pessimism, it took all I could to not to make a face,” Bush said.

These criticisms came the day before Sen. John Edwards held a town hall-style meeting on job creation at Adams City High School in Commerce City. Following Edwards’ appearance that Tuesday, Colorado GOP chairman Ted Halaby issued a press release urging the Democrats to quit bashing the president and instead talk about the issues.

“Voters regularly hear Sen. Edwards’ negative comments about President Bush and Vice President Cheney,” Halaby said. “With three weeks left before Election Day, maybe John Edwards should enlighten Coloradans as to where he stands on issues critical to this state and to the West.”

While Bush didn’t let up on his critique of Kerry during the first half of his speech—explaining that “I have a very different philosophy than him. I’m a compassionate conservative”—the president also spoke to his own record, citing his team’s calculations regarding new job numbers as well as low rates of unemployment and high rates of home ownership.

To create new jobs, Bush added, America must “pass my energy plan,” sell “our goods overseas,” and “be wise about how we spend your money and keep your taxes low.” He also stressed the importance of reforming medical liability lawsuits as well as the U.S. tax code—including its “special interest loopholes.”

He promised to make health care more affordable, with plans to “expand health savings accounts … (and) give small businesses tax credits to pay into … accounts for their employees. We want workers to own their own accounts, so they can base their medical decisions on advice from a doctor, not somebody in an HMO.”

And President Bush briefly mentioned Social Security and talked about his “cornerstone” community college plan to make sure “more Americans start their career with a college diploma.”

The “W Rocks” rally also came with Bush’s standard explanations about the slow growth of the economy under his watch.

“When you’re out convincing people to vote our way, remind them what we’ve been through. The stock market was in serious decline six months prior to my arrival in Washington, D.C. Then we had a recession. We had some corporate scandals, which affected our economy. … And then we had the attacks of September the 11th, which cost us about a million jobs in the three months afterwards.”

Finally, the president walked his supporters one more time through the steps that took the United States to war, both in Afghanistan and Iraq—a history that began with Bush going to the United Nations and continues today even after the capture of Saddam Hussein.

Bush also repeated, to resounding boos from the crowd and another round of “flip-flop,” the attack on John Kerry’s vote against the $87 billion in military funding—giving credence to the portrayal Gen. Franks painted of the president that day.

“I am so honored to introduce my former boss. … You know, George W. Bush is the real thing. … I have seen this president, this commander-in-chief, when the nights were long and the mornings were early and the decisions to be made were hard. And you know what I saw? I saw character, I saw courage and I saw consistency.”

Rich, L. E. (2004, October 15). Bush asks Colorado to see red on Election Day. The Colorado Statesman, p. 12.

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