Bush backers protest rally

Hundreds marched at the University to show their support for President George W. Bush.

Jared Roddy

Shouts of “Four more years!” rang in the air above the steps of Coffman Union on Friday morning as hundreds of Republican revelers rallied to show their support for President George W. Bush.

The rally was planned to coincide with Democratic presidential candidate Sen. John Kerry’s campaign visit to the Sports Pavilion.

Approximately 100 veterans from World War II and the wars in Korea and Vietnam walked alongside University alumni, local citizens and students as the rally marched from Coffman’s steps to the Sports Pavilion.

Although they did not cross University Avenue to interfere with Kerry’s rally, passersby could not miss the exuberant crowd.

“This isn’t an anti-Kerry rally,” University junior Anne Christianson said. “I’m here to support Bush as a man who knows what he stands for. He’s the right leader for the next four years.”

Joe Repya, vice chairman of Veterans for Bush Minnesota, gave a speech on the steps of Coffman before the rally set out.

“This election is not about Vietnam, it’s about who is best to lead the world against terrorism,” he said. Hand-painted campaign signs bobbed in the throng during the applause.

Steering the mass down Church Street with an amplified bullhorn, Tony Richter, junior business student and vice-chair of the College Republicans, led the group in pro-Bush chants.

“I just care about the future of this country,” he said. “Conservatism is about principled leadership, personal accountability and hard work. I think Bush is taking us in the right direction.”

Many participants said Bush’s “principled leadership” is the reason they had allied with him instead of Kerry.

John Schneider walked from Coffman carrying a hockey stick dangling a flip-flop with “Kerry” written on it. He summed up the sentiment during the march.

“Kerry doesn’t take a decisive stand on anything, he just tells people what they want to hear,” he said. “Bush says what he does and does what he says.”

Many also cited financial policy as a reason to vote for Bush.

“I was wounded once in Vietnam, I don’t need to be wounded again with tax hikes that take away what little money I have,” Charles Makidon said. Makidon is the senior vice-commander of the St. Paul Veterans of Foreign Wars.

“Just look at the numbers,” Richter said. “The economy is humming and we want four more years.”

Still, despite Repya’s claim to the opposite, many assembled veterans could not ignore Kerry’s perceived disloyalty to the uniform.

“What Kerry did after the Vietnam War was unconscionable,” Dan Weinberg, a veteran, said. “And for every veteran that doesn’t think so, I’ll find you 300 who do.”

As the rally passed Murphy Hall, a man on a bicycle, Steve McCauley, began to shout, “Where was Bush?”

He followed the rally to the Sports Pavilion and began to exchange shouts with the mass.

“You support a traitor?” Weinberg asked.

“What constitutes a traitor?” McCauley responded.

“Did you serve?” Weinberg said.

“No, did you?” McCauley asked.

“Yeah, two tours in Vietnam. Where were you?”

While local news photographers began shooting photos of McCauley, many Bush supporters ignored him for the rest of the event.