Bush caps day of campaigning with Dallas rally

Bush caps day of campaigning with Dallas rally

November 2, 2004, Tuesday, BC cycle

Bush caps day of campaigning with Dallas rally

BYLINE: By BOBBY ROSS JR., Associated Press Writer

SECTION: Political News

LENGTH: 423 words

DATELINE: DALLAS

As Monday faded into Election Day, the bitter divide over the presidential race was evident outside President Bush’s late-night rally at Southern Methodist University.

Deep in the heart of Bush Country, several dozen demonstrators supportive of Democratic nominee John Kerry carried signs such as “George W. Bin Laden” and “Bible Toting Liar.”

The demonstrators taunted Bush supporters leaving Monday night’s rally with chants of “One More Day!”

“We want to welcome Bush home and tell him to make himself comfortable because we’re sending John Kerry to Washington,” said Dallas resident Heidi Wanken, mother of a 2-year-old girl and founder of the organization Moms for Kerry.

Bush fans sporting red, white and blue “W’s” and an assortment of “Bush-Cheney” signs had a different message for the president: “Four More Years!”

Police standing in the street kept the two sides from exchanging more than words.

Inside SMU’s Moody Coliseum, the music was loud – with a surprise performance by country star Toby Keith of his pro-military anthem “American Soldier” – and the crowd’s allegiance was unmistakable.

“I’ve got a pretty good feeling that Texas is going to be a red state,” Bush told the 8,500 supporters who packed the rally, as he capped a six-state, 19-hour day of campaigning with an 11 p.m. speech.

“You’re going to start a trend,” the president joked.

With Bush expected to win his adopted home state handily, Gov. Rick Perry offered advice on how Texan Republicans could help affect the outcome elsewhere.

“If a casual acquaintance or a long-lost cousin lives in one of the battleground states, I want you to call them,” Perry told the crowd. “If you can shout that loud, I want you to get them to the polls.”

The president’s late-night rally at SMU – where his wife attended college and Vice President Dick Cheney served as a trustee – came at the same place as his final election stop in 2002, when Bush campaigned to elect Perry and U.S. Sen. John Cornyn.

This time, the stakes were much higher for Bush, engaged in a fierce fight for a second term. He wrapped up his campaign in Texas after voting in Crawford, Texas. Polling places opened at 7 a.m. CST.

“This election is in the hands of the people, and I feel very comfortable about that,” Bush said after he and first lady Laura Bush and twin daughters Barbara and Jenna cast ballots about 7:45 a.m. “Now’s the time for the people to express their will.”

On the Net:

http://www.georgewbush.com

http://www.momsforkerry.org

LOAD-DATE: November 3, 2004

GRAPHIC: AP Photos TXTG105-TXTG109

November 1, 2004, Monday, BC cycle

Bush caps final day of campaigning with Dallas rally

BYLINE: By BOBBY ROSS JR., Associated Press Writer

SECTION: Political News

LENGTH: 562 words

DATELINE: DALLAS

President Bush was capping a six-state, 19-hour final day of campaigning Monday with a rally in his home state of Texas, where a crowd waving U.S. flags and “Bush-Cheney” signs packed Southern Methodist University’s Moody Coliseum.

The president’s late-night rally at SMU – where his wife attended college and Vice President Dick Cheney served as a trustee – came at the same place as his final election stop in 2002, when Bush campaigned to elect U.S. Sen. John Cornyn and Gov. Rick Perry.

This time, the stakes were much higher for Bush, engaged in a fierce fight for a second term.

“Isn’t it exciting to spend the last night of the campaign with President Bush and his wife?” actor Chuck Norris, the rally’s master of ceremonies, asked before leading the screaming crowd in chants of “Four More Years!”

Outside the arena, several dozen demonstrators lined busy streets and carried signs supporting Democratic nominee John Kerry, including “HonK for Kerry” and “Weapons of Mass Distraction.”

“We want to welcome Bush home and tell him to make himself comfortable because we’re sending John Kerry to Washington,” said Dallas resident Heidi Wanken, mother of a 2-year-old girl and founder of the organization Moms for Kerry.

Monday’s rally came amid a mixture of excitement and anxiety on both sides, with numerous polls showing the race too close to call just hours before Election Day.

“It’s going to be tight, but we believe Bush is going to pull it out,” said Laura Emmons, 37, of Argyle.

Her sons, Slader, 9, and Cooper, 7, played hand-held electronic games as they awaited the president’s speech. The family arrived more than four hours before the rally, joining thousands of Bush supporters who waited in long lines to pass through security checkpoints.

“We wanted to show them the importance of electing a president that stands for family values and freedom,” Emmons said.

SMU students Joey Vanwingerden, 19, from Culpepper, Va., and Jessica Janosko, 20, from Dallas, wore T-shirts with the joking message “Bush for Succession.”

Both said they would be extremely upset if Kerry were elected.

“All the stuff I’ve read and heard about Kerry, I just can’t trust him,” Janosko said.

Bush was stopping in Dallas before going to his ranch in Crawford, where he planned to spend the night and wake up to vote at a firehouse.

If there was any doubt that Bush was stepping into friendly territory after weeks of campaigning in battleground states, consider SMU’s ZIP code: 75205.

Nationally, Bush supporters in only one other ZIP code nationally – 10021 on the upper east side of Manhattan, New York – have given more to the president’s re-election campaign, according to the nonpartisan Center for Responsive Politics.

Republican Party leaders distributed more than 10,000 free tickets to the rally and answered calls all day from partisans who did not get tickets before they ran out, said Ray Washburne, Dallas County chairman for the Bush-Cheney campaign.

“When Bush ran for governor in 1994, he was living in Dallas and this is where he really got his business start and his political start,” Washburne said of the president, who also attended Highland Park United Methodist Church, near the SMU campus. “He’s kind of coming back where he began.”

On the Net:

http://www.georgewbush.com

http://www.momsforkerry.org

LOAD-DATE: November 2, 2004