I’m in Milwaukee this week; when I checked into my hotel last night, I was given a sheet that said that because of “a very special conference visiting Milwaukee,” guests would be subject to certain security precautions. Like the garage closing at noon, the top three floors of the hotel being closed off, and identification being required to re-enter the hotel. Also, the hotel clerk warned me that there would be dogs on the premises, so I should be sure not to have any drugs in my possession. (A rather odd warning to give a respectable, middle-aged lawyer, I thought.) It didn’t take long to figure out that President Bush will be joining us this evening.
The Minneapolis Star Tribune reports on President Bush’s campaign swing through the Upper Midwest:
Bush opened a two-day tour of three Midwestern states he lost in 2000 – Michigan, Minnesota and Wisconsin – and carefully targeted his travels Tuesday around Lake Superior to appeal to conservative Democrats. From here, he went to Duluth, Minn., for another rally.
Aides said they viewed the region as fertile ground for a pitch on values and felt Bush had to respond after Kerry visited the region earlier this month and declared himself the guardian of “conservative values.”
Bush’s Michigan audience of political supporters groaned when Bush repeated Kerry’s claim. “I know, I know. Those were his own words,” the president said, contending that Kerry had been rated “the most liberal member of the Senate,” although he didn’t identify his source.
The president mocked Kerry’s appearance last week at a New York fund raiser where one entertainer after another bashed Bush.
“The other day my opponent said, when he was with some entertainers from Hollywood, that they were the heart and soul of America,” Bush said, drawing loud boos. That response instantly turned to cheering when Bush said, “I believe the heart and soul of America is found in places like this, right here in Marquette.”
Bush’s response to Kerry’s campaign themes prompted this rather stunning non sequitur from the Kerry camp:
Bush also took issue with Kerry’s pronouncement this week that he and running mate John Edwards were proud of the fact that they opposed in the Senate the $87 billion aid package for Afghanistan and Iraq. Kerry said they had done so because “we knew the policy had to be changed.”
“He’s entitled to his view,” Bush said. “But members of Congress should not vote to send troops into battle and then vote against funding them, and then brag about it.”
Kerry’s campaign responded that Kerry had served in the Vietnam War and questions linger about Bush’s wartime service in the Texas Air National Guard.
Well, I guess that’s all right then. As long as Kerry served in Vietnam thirty years ago, we’d better not mention any of his votes in the Senate over the past nineteen years. Actually, given his four-month service in combat, we should be grateful that Kerry shows up at all to take part in Senate proceedings. Except, of course, that he doesn’t.
My own evening ended on a somewhat disappointing note. I came back from dinner to find the lobby of my hotel crowded with people waiting with eager anticipation for the President to arrive. But when I rode up the elevator with a Secret Service man, he told me that not only was President Bush already in the hotel, he had gone to bed.
I’ll watch for him again in the morning.