Wednesday, May 5, 2004

What's in bus tour name? Apparently a lot


Campaign trail mix

The Cincinnati Enquirer

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Bus tours are the hot thing in presidential campaigning these days, and every bus tour has to have a name. President Bush's is called the "Yes, America Can" Tour.

Of course, even the names are political. The Kerry campaign accused the Bush campaign of changing the name of the tour, from last week's "Winning the War on Terror" Tour - an admission, the Kerry camp said, that the war on terror isn't going as well as planned.

Nonsense, the Bush campaign responded. They're two different events.

Asked why every campaign event had its own name, Bush spokesman Kevin Madden said, "It's called staying on message."

Rep. Rob Portman, warming up the crowd in Lebanon, said he likes the optimism behind the "Yes, America Can" Tour.

Kerry's bus tour, he said, was called the "Maybe Yes, Maybe No, It Depends Which Day You Ask Me" Tour.

President Bush's motorcade rode into Lebanon along Main Street, where there's plenty of construction under way.

"(Mayor Amy Brewer) didn't ask for any advice, but I'm going to give her some: Fix the potholes, Mayor," Bush said.

From where she was standing, Brewer missed parts of the speech and didn't hear about Bush's remark until later.

"If at any time, when the city takes a look at paving streets and fixing potholes and we need funding support," she said, "I'm going to tell the community, 'Remember what President Bush said.' "

Hundreds of people lined the streets of Lebanon and Blue Ash, waving and holding homemade signs for the five-bus Bush motorcade. On U.S. 42 south out of Lebanon, dozens of cars stopped on the shoulder in the northbound lanes to watch the motorcade go by. A Forest Park police officer, helping to close off streets, saluted.

Unlike Kerry's outdoor event at Sawyer Point last month, there were few protesters to distract his opponent Tuesday in Lebanon. The closest protests Kerry supporters could muster were shouts on a bullhorn from two blocks south on Broadway, 15 minutes before the president arrived. The only words that could be heard from up the street were "Kerry ... Iraq ... Environment."

The Bush campaign immediately piped in "Stars and Stripes Forever" on the loudspeakers, and that was the end of that.

Hamilton County Prosecutor Mike Allen was the emcee for Bush's Cincinnati Gardens appearance, but that wasn't the original plan.

WLW talk-show host Bill Cunningham said he was approached by the campaign last week to introduce the president. After all, Cunningham introduced Bush four years ago at campaign stops in Devou Park and Blue Ash. But Cunningham demurred, saying new policies at corporate parent Clear Channel discourage outside political activity.

He insisted it's not that he's become disillusioned with the president, and said he doesn't remember telling the Enquirer that "Republicans are stupid" after being snubbed on the invite list during Bush's 2002 visit to Union Terminal.

The Bush-Cheney campaign could use a quick course on Cincinnati geography.

A press advisory on the president's stop at Cincinnati Gardens said it was in "Roseland, Ohio."

Never mind that Cincinnati Gardens is actually in Bond Hill (which was annexed into Cincinnati in 1903); the neighborhood to the north is Roselawn.

The Wall Street Journal used the occasion of Bush's visit to Ohio to jab at Gov. Bob Taft's tax policies. Taft, chairman of the Bush-Cheney campaign in Ohio, backed a sales-tax increase last year and opposes an early repeal of the tax this year.

Said the Journal: "President Bush is scheduled to campaign in Ohio today, where he'll talk to families and small-business owners who are benefiting from federal tax relief. Maybe some of what Mr. Bush says will rub off on the state's GOP establishment, which has lost its fiscal bearings of late.''

When Bush introduced Taft at the Gardens, the governor got a smattering of boos so loud that members of the White House press corps wondered if he might be a Democrat.

Mazen Ramahi, originally from Jerusalem and now living in West Chester, waved a large United Nations flag across the street from the Cincinnati Gardens as the arena filled up with Bush supporters.

Ramahi said he wanted to send a message to Bush. "He put U.S. in a bad, bad situation. I want to see myself doing something,'' he said. "It's the freedom here. You can say anything you want, and I want to show the people I have something to say.''

Compiled by Gregory Korte, Erica Solvig and Maggie Downs.




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