Bush addresses Minnesota supporters

Erin Ghere

As his Boeing 757, dubbed “Responsibility One,” rolled up the tarmac, Republican candidate George W. Bush’s supporters cheered vigorously Wednesday afternoon for the candidate they hope will be the nation’s next president.
As homemade signs covered the massive, white-walled Sun Country Airlines hangar where the rally was held, the 6,000-strong crowd cheered as Bush talked about tax cuts, integrity in the White House and how America is tired of his opponent, Vice President Al Gore.
“They’re still saying the same thing … we ain’t seen nothing yet, Mr. Vice President,” Bush said, mocking one of Gore’s campaign slogans.
The Twin Cities stop was one of two in Minnesota. The second was held in Duluth on Wednesday evening. It was Bush’s first trip to Minnesota during this campaign but a significant one.
For the first time in almost 30 years, Minnesota is sitting on the fence, seemingly unable to decide between Bush and Gore. In the latest polls, Bush is ahead in the state by 3 percent — a statistical dead heat.
As the rain poured and lightening flashed outside, Bush pointed to his record as a state governor as proof of his leadership skills.
“It can be done, I’ve done it in Texas,” he said of his plans.
“I proudly stand on my record as chief executive officer of the second-largest state in the union,” he exclaimed to a cheering crowd, some of whom had waited five hours to see him.
Bush told supporters of his plans for education, Social Security, Medicare, the military and tax cuts.
He also described a compassionate government, one which respects and trusts its citizens.
“Ours is a smarter, fairer, more effective government,” he said. “We believe in government that knows its limits, and shows its heart.”
“It’s a difference of opinion and the contrast could not be more clear,” he said of himself and Gore. “I trust the people, he trusts the government.”
If elected, Bush said he would be a messenger to Washington, D.C., of what the people of American want.
“Should I earn your confidence, I will work with Republicans and Democrats to get the people’s business done, to rid Washington of its bitterness and set a new, constructive tone,” he said.
In addition, Bush said he would return honor to the office of the president and to the White House.
“I will also swear to uphold the honesty and integrity of the office to which I’ve been elected, so help me God,” Bush said enthusiastically.
As an example of that, he and his wife, Laura, who entered the rally holding hands, fly to events together to show the country their priorities: faith, family and America, Bush said.
“America’s gonna love her like I love her,” he added.
Red, white and blue balloons, confetti and streamers fell from the ceiling as he concluded his speech and Bush shook hands with the crowd before re-boarding his plane with St. Paul Mayor Norm Coleman, former Gov. Arne Carlson, Wisconsin Gov. Tommy Thompson and his wife Laura for Duluth.
With five days left until the general election on Nov. 7, Bush will continue to campaign in other swing states like Minnesota.
Bush was introduced by a barrage of Republican leaders, including Coleman, U.S. Congress Fourth District candidate Linda Runbeck, U.S. Sen. Rod Grams and Carlson.
“I promise you this,” Grams told a roaring crowd, “a Bush-Cheney-Grams team will leave no one behind.”
Speaking of opponent Mark Dayton’s multi-million dollar expenditures on his own campaign, Grams said, “this seat is not for sale.”
A country band, the Oakridge Boys, and the Bloomington-Kennedy High School band also entertained the crowd before Bush’s arrival.
Patrick Gresens, 17, chairman of the Teenage Republicans of Hopkins High School said Bush appeals to young people because his principles are less government and more freedom.
“He appeals to everyone across the nation, young and old,” Gresens added.

Erin Ghere welcomes comments at [email protected]