Independent Student Newspaper Since 1969

The Badger Herald

Independent Student Newspaper Since 1969

The Badger Herald

Independent Student Newspaper Since 1969

The Badger Herald


Campaigners come to the Badger State

[media-credit name=’Derek Montgomery’ align=’alignnone’ width=’648′]McCainJohn1_400px_DM[/media-credit]If Labor Day weekend is any indication, Wisconsin will indeed live up to its billing as a chief battleground state in this year’s presidential election. Republicans made a beeline for the state to try to capitalize on momentum built during the four-day Republican National Convention in New York City, while Democrats fought back to counter the bounce in polls where President George W. Bush’s lead over Sen. John Kerry, D-Mass., increased dramatically following the convention.

Bush, U.S. Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., and Democratic vice presidential nominee Sen. John Edwards, D-N.C., all made stops in southern Wisconsin this weekend.

George W. Bush


President Bush held a rally for thousands of supporters at the Wisconsin Expo Center in West Allis, a city neighboring Milwaukee, Friday, Sept. 3, just one day after his acceptance speech at the Republican National Convention.

Commenting on late-breaking events, Bush wished former President Clinton a swift recovery from bypass surgery, prayed for the safety of Floridians faced with Hurricane Frances, and mourned the deaths of Russian school students killed by terrorists.

Turning to his re-election bid, Bush cited recent statistics to demonstrate how his economic policies are leading the country back from recession. He announced the country had added 144,000 jobs in August, plus revisions for 60,000 more jobs in the previous two months.

“I believe now, and I will believe forever, in the energy and innovative spirit of the American worker, the American small-business owner, the American farmer and rancher,” Bush told the crowd. “And that is why we unleashed that energy with the largest tax relief in a generation.”

Bush touched on many of the themes he addressed in his speech in New York. He promised tort reform to protect doctors from being driven out of business with high malpractice insurance costs.

“You cannot be pro-doctor and pro-patient and pro-plaintiff attorney at the same time. You have to choose. My opponent made his choice — and he put him on the ticket,” Bush said, referring to Edwards’ former occupation as a trial lawyer.

Bush also assured the crowd he will simplify the country’s tax code and promised to eliminate loopholes used by special-interest groups.

Bush asserted his belief that this century will be considered the “century of liberty” and mentioned the effect of freedom in Iraq and Afghanistan on neighboring countries.

University of Wisconsin student Erica Christenson, social coordinator of the College Republicans, attended the rally and expressed “relief” that Bush was able to make a good impression in Wisconsin.

“The points [Bush] made against John Kerry, even though I don’t really go for the negative stuff, worked well,” Christenson said. “John Kerry in Iowa claimed to represent conservative values, and Bush nailed him on that … Bush’s commitment to family and community is what makes him the candidate with conservative values.”

John McCain

McCain also came to Madison Friday to visit the Wisconsin Veterans Museum and hold a rally at the Inn on the Park hotel on the Capitol Square.

At the rally, McCain addressed a crowd of conservatives abuzz with the announcement from former Congressman Scott Klug that Bush’s national post-convention poll numbers had experienced an 11-percent increase, putting him ahead of Sen. Kerry. Klug said the Bush campaign had changed Wisconsin from a “toss-up” state to a “leaning Bush” state during the event.

“We are here for one reason and one reason alone, and that is the re-election of George W. Bush as president,” McCain declared, causing the audience to erupt in chants of “four more years.”

McCain spent much of his speech defending the decision to go to Iraq, saying he had no doubt the cause was noble and just. He applauded the courage shown by U.S. troops stationed in Iraq and said their bravery deserves mention alongside the troops of Tom Brokaw’s “Greatest Generation” of World War II.

McCain also expressed regret at the negative focus on the candidates’ experiences during the Vietnam War era.

“My friends, we should not re-fight a war that was over 30 years ago,” said McCain, a POW in Vietnam.

McCain abstained from attacks on Kerry, saying forces plotting to destroy the United States, and not the Democratic Party, are the real enemy.

While commending Kerry for his service in Vietnam, McCain stressed Bush should not be looked down upon for opting for the National Guard. McCain said service in the National Guard is “honorable service,” noting 30-40 percent of the troops in Iraq are reservists.

In the crowd were a number of local politicians, including Klug, Congressional hopefuls Ron Greer and Dave Magnum and all four Republican candidates for the U.S. Senate.

Klug said of McCain: “No man in the country has more credibility to talk about defense issues.”

During a question-and-answer session with the audience after his speech, McCain shrugged off speculation about his own presidential ambitions four years from now.

“I’m afraid in 2008, I’m going to be 2008,” he joked.

After the rally, a group of protesters gathered on the square to voice opposition to Bush and show support for Kerry.

UW sophomore Rachel Penczykowski accused McCain of abandoning his values by endorsing Bush, with whom McCain engaged in a spirited Republican primary in 2000, instead of fellow Vietnam veteran Kerry.

“John McCain is a traitor,” Penczykowski said. “In his head he wants to support Kerry … we have to bring him back to the light.”

Inside, though, there was nothing but admiration for the Arizona senator.

“He gave an excellent speech, especially his emphasis on national security, and I’m glad he mentioned that post-9/11 legislation (Patriot Act) should be looked at,” UW sophomore Chrissy Harbin said, adding Kerry’s health-care plan would be the “economic ruin of the nation.”

John Edwards

Edwards spent much of the weekend in Wisconsin, including a rally for supporters in Waukesha, a traditional Republican stronghold.

Speaking at the Waukesha County Expo Center, Edwards attacked Bush’s domestic policy record during his four years in the White House, repeating a recurring theme that America “can do better.”

“George Bush said in the convention that he wants to be judged by his record. I agree,” Edwards, who blamed Republicans for using “much anger and negative rhetoric” at their convention in order to divert attention away from Bush’s record, said.

Edwards ridiculed the domestic-policy initiatives Bush outlined in his acceptance speech Thursday, wondering why the president had not already accomplished his plans.

“George Bush talked about what he’s going to do during his next term. Well, I may have missed it, but he’s already had a term,” the vice-presidential hopeful said.

Edwards held Bush responsible for a net loss of jobs in the country during his administration, saying the recent uptake in employment figures is too little, too late.

“Over the last 75 years, we’ve had 11 presidents … every single one of those presidents created jobs, until this one,” Edwards said during the event.

The United States needs to enforce trade agreements, and tax cuts need to be eliminated for countries that outsource jobs overseas, according to Edwards.

He stressed the need to bring down health-care costs, and said it’s “not an accident” five million people have lost their health-care coverage in the last four years. To combat rising costs, Kerry would support the re-importation of prescription drugs from Canada, Edwards said.

The rally capped a two-day bus tour of Wisconsin for Edwards, following previous stops in Green Bay, Stevens Point and Wausau. The North Carolinian has become a frequent visitor to the Badger State as of late — he has made three trips to Wisconsin since July 23 and came back for an event in Milwaukee Monday.

The rally attracted hundreds of Kerry supporters on the hot Saturday afternoon. One of the audience members, UW alum Mitch Haycock, believed Kerry would pursue a more evenhanded agenda and show better preparation in his job than Bush.

“Kerry would be more representational of all of us, not just some of us,” Haycock said, who supported Bush in 2000. “But going in [to Iraq] as a cowboy — that’s what put me over the edge.”

Leave a Comment
Donate to The Badger Herald

Your donation will support the student journalists of University of Wisconsin-Madison. Your contribution will allow us to purchase equipment and cover our annual website hosting costs.

More to Discover
Donate to The Badger Herald

Comments (0)

All The Badger Herald Picks Reader Picks Sort: Newest

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *