Bush campaigns in Minnesota again

Hayley Odom

College student Nathan Ellering went to see President George W. Bush speak yesterday as an undecided voter. By the end of the president’s speech, his decision was made.

“I’ll vote for him,” the Dakota County Technical student said. “I don’t agree with all of his policies, but I agree with his family values. That’s what this country is built on.”

Ellering was one of 4,000 people who filled the Blaine, Minn., National Sports Center to hear Bush speak about health care and his re-election campaign.

Behind a giant steel “W” emblem, Bush spoke about his vision for the United States and the need for change in government systems.

“The health plan needs to change with modern times, the tax code needs to change with modern times and the labor laws are old,” he said to a cheering crowd.

Bush said his plans will make health care available and affordable.

He called for changes in health insurance, medical liability, prescription-drug availability and for the expansion of community health groups.

He said the current Medicare system is not cost-effective or compassionate.

“Seniors, starting in 2006, will have prescription-drug coverage,” he said. “Any time you can save money, it’s good.”

His Medicare plan includes initial physical examinations and disease-management services, which could help avoid costly medical complications, he said.

While most of the crowd applauded throughout the president’s visit, not everyone said they agreed with his ideas.

Supporters of his primary competitor, Democratic presidential candidate Sen. John Kerry, protested on nearby sidewalks outside the center.

Laura Wertish, a teacher from Roseville, Minn., said she was there to show her support for Kerry.

“I’m not trying to put down others’ opinions,” she said. “I’m expressing mine.”

She said she was protesting the overall Bush re-election campaign.

Although health care was the focus of the event, Bush also addressed terrorist issues and the war in Iraq.

“Iraq was a tough decision,” he said. “This administration saw a threat Ö We went to Congress, and with the same intelligence (we had), they concluded Iraq was a threat and authorized use of force in Iraq.”

Bush said diplomacy efforts failed because Iraq did not cooperate with the United Nations.

“We didn’t find weapons of mass destruction, but (Saddam Hussein) had the intelligence to make them and could pass that knowledge on,” he said. “Knowing what I know today, I would have made the same decision (to invade Iraq).”

He said Iraq is moving toward peace.

“Liberation can transform a society for the better,” he said.

Carlson School of Management student Rohini Khanna said she thought Bush’s health-care plans were “more realistic” for the future of today’s youth.

“I liked his idea of personal accounts to cover our health-care costs,” she said. “I’m about to go out in the work force, and it’s important to know how to plan for things.”