President Bush staged his first official campaign rally before a crowd of 15,000 supporters in Orlando yesterday. I love Bill Sammon’s account in the Washington Times:
President Bush yesterday used his first official campaign rally to criticize Sen. John Kerry for claiming foreign endorsements and supporting a 50-cents-a-gallon gasoline tax.
“The other day here in Florida he claimed some important endorsements from overseas,” Mr. Bush told 15,000 cheering partisans. “He won’t tell us the name of the foreign admirers.
“That’s OK,” he added. “Either way, I’m not too worried, because I’m going to keep my campaign right here in America.”
The crowd went wild, repeatedly interrupting the president’s 42-minute speech at the Orange County Convention Center with chants of “four more years.” Mr. Bush responded by vowing several times to secure a second term.
It seems we have the makings of a pretty good stump speech here:
“There’s a big election coming up and I thought I’d come down for a little spring training,” the president said. “We’re going to make Florida a part of a great nationwide victory this November.”
As part of an aggressive grass-roots effort to turn out voters, the campaign arranged for buses and vans to take attendees on a voter registration drive immediately after yesterday’s speech. Again and again, Mr. Bush implored them to get fellow Floridians to the polls.
But the president spent much of his speech heaping ridicule on Mr. Kerry as part of a coordinated effort to define the Massachusetts Democrat as a tax-raising, flip-flopping liberal who is soft on terrorism.
“Senator Kerry voted for the Patriot Act, for NAFTA, for the No Child Left Behind Act, and for the use of force in Iraq,” the president said. “Now he opposes the Patriot Act, NAFTA, the No Child Left Behind Act, and the liberation of Iraq.
“My opponent clearly feels strongly about each of these issues,” he added. “So strongly that one position is never just enough.”
And all this was only a warmup to material based on more recent events:
Then the president gleefully cited a remark Mr. Kerry made on Tuesday that is destined to be repeated by the Bush campaign for months.
“Someone asked Senator Kerry why he voted against the $87 billion funding bill to help our troops in Iraq,” Mr. Bush said. “Here’s what he said: ‘I actually did vote for the $87 billion before I voted against it.'” The president added mischievously: “That sure clears things up, doesn’t it?”
After the speech, President Bush pressed the flesh. Below is the photo of President Bush working the crowd that accompanies the Times story.
HINDROCKET adds, admiringly: Trunk, I suspect you had that post ready to go by 6:00 and spent an hour coming up with the title!