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Alongside the most recognized Republicans in the state, President Bush reaffirmed his stance on the issues of this election season to Colorado voters during a “get out the vote” rally in Greeley on Saturday.
Republicans, including incumbent congressional candidate Marilyn Musgrave, Gov. Bill Owens, gubernatorial candidate Bob Beauprez, Sen. Wayne Allard, as well as candidates from the secretary of state, treasurer and CU-regent races, were on hand to mobilize voters to the polls and voice their campaign platforms to an estimated crowd of 700 at the Island Grove Regional Events Center.
“There’s only one political party that has Colorado values in mind this election, and that’s the Republican Party,” Congressman Bob Schaffer said.
The war in Iraq and the war on terror, were recurring topics of discussion during the rally. Secretary of State candidate Mike Coffman, who is running a very close race with his opponent Ken Gordon, criticized the Democratic Party for keeping a negative stance on the war, asserting that it was demoralizing troops.
Musgrave, running to retain her seat of the fourth congressional district, took the stage amidst a chant of “Marilyn, Marilyn,” from the crowd, and thanked the soldiers who were in attendance. She also said the president needs a Republican Congress to help him maintain national security and “values of decency.”
“The stakes have never been higher, but under this great American president, we will win this war, so let’s give him all the help we can,” Musgrave said.
Allard reiterated the urgency and importance of voting in the elections, saying that democracy “was not a spectator sport.”
Beauprez, who has been trailing Democrat Bill Ritter in the polls, ridiculed his opponent as a “Bitter Ritter” who “doesn’t get it.”
“Bill is an empty suit,” he said. “His plan is to have a plan to develop a plan to have a plan.”
Beauprez also addressed the need for immigration reform and criticized his opponent for supporting in-state tuition to higher-education institutions for children of illegal immigrants, which drew boos from the audience.
The crowd was animated during the rally, with people holding signs, waving flags and dancing between speeches. The events center fell silent, though, after the announcement of the president’s arrival.
A group of on-lookers cried out, “they’re here,” and all eyes turned to an inflatable movie screen to watch a live feed of the landing of the president’s helicopter, Marine One, as the lights went down. As Bush made his way from the parking lot to the stage, backed by Toby Keith’s “Should Have Been A Cowboy,” the crowd roared in welcome.
“It’s nice to be in a place where the cowboy hats outnumber the ties,” Bush said. “This isn’t my first time in Greeley, but I like it here because Greeley has a lot of common sense, and Marilyn Musgrave brings that common since to Washington.”
Bush spent much of his speech endorsing Musgrave as a candidate, describing her as someone who has shown strong support for the military by backing benefits for veterans, and who as a woman “understands values” because of her work to “protect the sanctity of marriage.”
The president also addressed the economy and taxes, saying a vote for Democrats is a vote for a tax increase.
“As of today, the unemployment rate has dropped to 4.4 percent and we have cut the deficit in half three years ahead of schedule,” he said.
In keeping with the overarching message of the rally, Bush asked for patience and stability with regards to the war in Iraq. It has been and will continue to be a difficult fight, he said, but the country owes it to the troops and the Iraqi citizens to stabilize that region.
“Saddam (Hussein) was a threat, and we cannot just hope for the best when we see a threat,” Bush said. “There is a universality of the desire for freedom and liberty has the capacity to turn an enemy into an ally.”
Though Bush concluded his speech to a red sea of screaming supporters, protesters had gathered outside the events center to voice their opposition. The demonstrators, confined to the far end of the parking lot by security officials, brandished posters depicting a cartoon Bush will horns and waved signs in support of Democratic candidates.
“We wait for 2008,” and “When Bush lies, people die,” chanted the protesters.