On the campaign trail

Friday, September 10, 2004

A crowd estimated at 26,000 to 30,000 attended the rally for President Bush in Poplar Bluff Monday, more than has attended any similar outdoor event this year.

A light rain didn't dampen the event, which was the kickoff of a two-day, four-stop Missouri campaign swing. Missouri has been designated one of the 17 to 20 battleground (toss-up) states by the Bush and Kerry campaigns. Bush has moved slightly ahead in the polls with just seven plus weeks to go. And Kerry reportedly has reduced his ad expenditures in Missouri. But either one could carry the state. Over 100,000 voter registrations are being generated by the pro-Kerry Act Up America group funded heavily by George Soros.

The Missouri vote will come down to the get-out-the-vote efforts of both parties and the extra push by labor unions that will spend millions of dollars in real or in-kind activities.

Special plaudits to two rally organizers from Poplar Bluff, Bush's Missouri campaign chairman Lloyd Smith and all of the volunteers who were key factors in the problem-free Bush rally.

Incidentally the president's press plane landed at the Cape Girardeau Regional Airport. Three buses awaited the 90 members of the press and camera crews who had to be delighted about the 1 1/2-hour trip to Poplar Bluff and then 1 1/2 hours back for a scheduled 10 p.m. departure of the large jet. No wonder the press is sometimes grumpy.

Roy Temple, veteran Democrat campaign manager from Puxico who headed up campaigns for Mel Carnahan and Jean Carnahan along with the recent election and re-election campaign of Gov. Bob Holden has been hired to manage the Kerry-Edwards campaign in Minnesota.

I'm sure some of his barbed comments turned him from Mr. Inside to Mr. Outside when Holden lost the Democratic nomination fight with Claire McCaskill.

Most of the major statewide candidates will share the stage at the annual Missouri Press Association convention in Springfield, Mo., this weekend. Any candidate below governor or U.S. senator will be limited to just four minutes. I understand the governor and U.S senator candidates will be allotted 45 minutes for a debate and question-and-answer session. This could be a major newsmaker weekend.

Jay Leno and David Letterman's late-night comedy writers (Leno obviously has a bigger team) churn out funny, mostly political one-liners five nights a week. Examples from Leno:

"Arnold is a powerful weapon for the GOP. He appeals to Republicans, Democrats and conservatives -- everybody but film critics."

"Did you see that Yankees-Indians game last night? The Yankees lost 22 to 3. Last time the Yankees got beaten that bad by the Indians it was at Little Big Horn."

"It was so bad, I saw a bunch of Yankees players on rafts going back to Cuba."

"John Kerry's keeping a low profile this week. He said he wanted to get away to someplace where no one would expect to see him. So I guess he showed up at his seat in the Senate. Nobody's going to look for him there."

"Former Vice President Al Gore got a speeding ticket in Oregon last week. Appears he was going nowhere fast."

"Did you see the pictures in the paper today of John Kerry windsurfing? He's in Nantucket this week, windsurfing. Even his hobby depends on which way the wind blows."

Some examples from Letterman:

"The Log Cabin Republicans -- you know who they are. They don't like Hillary Clinton, but they love what she's done with her hair."

"Last night Arnold Schwarzenegger spoke at the convention. This marked the first time a body builder has addressed the convention since, well, Janet Reno."

Cape Girardeau native Jack Oliver was honored during the recent Republican National Convention, as reported in the following St. Louis Post-Dispatch article entitled "Fund-raisers honor the Missouri master."

"In a week when corporations and fund-raisers sponsored exclusive parties to honor top elected leaders, fund-raisers feted one of their own Thursday morning: Jack Oliver, who grew up in the Cape Girardeau and St. Louis area and is a presidential fund-raiser extraordinary.

"Top Republican fund-raisers from California, Florida, Kentucky, New York, New Jersey, Texas, Washington and Missouri -- including the current ambassador to Belgium, Steve Brauer, and Sam Fox of Clayton -- hosted the event at the Ritz-Carlton next to Central Park.

"Oliver, 35, served as President George W. Bush's finance director in his record-breaking 2000 campaign. He now serves as deputy finance chairman for Bush's re-election effort, which burst the record again, with $243 million through July -- and still counting.

"The room at the Ritz was packed. And longtime Oliver friend Annie Presley suspects that Oliver's personal touch is why.

"'He makes everybody feel comfortable about giving away their money,' said Presley, who runs The McKellar Group, a public affairs consulting company out of Kansas City. 'He's just easy and gentle and kind. That's why these people show up to thank him for taking their money.'

"Among the party VIPs at the party were Bush campaign manager Ken Mehlman and senior campaign strategist Matthew Dowd.

"Oliver, long rumored to be a potential Missouri gubernatorial candidate, was keeping his Missouri roots close by -- next to his shins, to be precise. He wore black ostrich cowboy boots, his trademark, stamped with the Missouri state seal.

"'My great-great grandmother, Marie Watkins Oliver, designed the Missouri state flag,' said Oliver, who also seemed impressed with the crowd that came out to honor him. 'I was humbled. These are my friends.'"

Gary Rust is chairman of Rust Communications.

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