Republicans party to build Bush support

by Josh Verges

President George W. Bush supporters gathered at more than 5,000 “Party for the President” events across the country Thursday night.

Approximately 25 College Republicans from universities in the metro area hosted a party at Plum’s Neighborhood Grill & Bar in St. Paul.

“(The parties demonstrate) the overwhelming support the everyday person is showing for the president,” College Republicans State Chairman Jake Grassel said.

Registered parties of five or more listened to a conference call with Vice President Dick Cheney.

The group at Plum’s listened over the restaurant’s speakers as Cheney thanked them and emphasized the importance of their grassroots campaign.

“It’s important at every level, not just at the national level, that we engage everyone in this decision this November,” Cheney said. “We need to have the largest grassroots campaign for (us) to succeed.”

Cheney also reinforced the president’s commitment to turning power in Iraq over to an interim government by the end of June.

“It’s very important to stay to that schedule,” he said. “(Terrorists) will do everything they can over the next 60 days to derail this process.”

To end the call, the president’s campaign manager Ken Mehlman called the Bush volunteers to action.

“Every single day, every single action, every new voter is important in this election,” he said.

Grassel said College Republicans chapters set up 13 of the more than 180 parties across the state.

The Bush campaign began organizing the parties in February with the goal of registering 2,004 Bush bashes nationwide. The parties were set up to grow the campaign’s grassroots efforts.

“These are the people who are going to go out and get their neighbors to vote,” Grassel said.

The second day of Party for the President events will take place in mid-July, campaign officials said.

Democratic Massachusetts Sen. John Kerry’s campaign will hold its first National House Party Day on May 22. Parties of 10 and greater can participate in a conference call with Kerry and an undisclosed special guest.

University DFL President Austin Miller said the group does not yet have plans to host a party for Kerry supporters.

The Web sites for both Bush and Kerry encourage partygoers to donate to the campaigns.

The Kerry campaign reported Thursday that it has garnered $80 million from 400,000 donors, meeting its goal three months early. The campaign collected a record $42.8 million in March alone.