Area students prepare signs to welcome Cheney

Thursday, October 31, 2002

Nearly 30 local students gathered Wednesday night at the Republican Party Headquarters in Cape Girardeau to create welcome signs for Vice President Dick Cheney, who is visiting the city's airport today in support of U.S. Senate hopeful, Republican Jim Talent.

Justin Gibbs, a Jackson High School junior, helped organize the sign-making effort. He was chosen to sit on stage with the vice president and his wife, Lynne Cheney. Talent, U.S. Sen. Kit Bond, U.S. Rep. Jo Ann Emerson, Missouri Sen. Peter Kinder and other Republican state legislators will also be on stage.

"I want to welcome him to Southeast Missouri and tell him we're happy he's here," Gibbs said. "We appreciate his taking part in this political race, not just because it's important to Missouri, but because it's also important for Jim Talent will bring our values to the U.S. Senate."

Talent is running against Democratic incumbent U.S. Sen. Jean Carnahan.

Cheney is scheduled to speak at 2:15 p.m. in the Rickart Hangar at Cape Girardeau Regional Airport for 15 to 20 minutes.

Tom Schulte, a field representative for the state Republican Party, said about 1,500 free tickets had been given away by late Wednesday. However, more were still available, he said.

"The whole area is excited," Schulte said. "It looks like Southeast Missouri is going to turn out a great rally for the vice president. A lot of families and young folks will be there."

'Once in a lifetime'

Gibbs agreed that the vice president's visit is significant to many local youth. The last time Cheney visited the area was as a vice presidential candidate in 2000. That visit was also limited to the airport.

"Sometimes we get to see candidates when they're running for national office, but this may be a once-in-a-lifetime experience for us because we get to see him while he's actually in office as the vice president," Gibbs said.

Notre Dame junior Emily Kelley wants to congratulate the vice president for his work.

"I'd tell him he's doing a good job at keeping up with it all," she said. "I'm excited at the chance to meet him because I've never met someone that highly ranked before."

Jamie Schneider, a member of the College Republicans at Southeast Missouri State University, is also hoping to shake Cheney's hand.

"It'd be an honor to meet him," Schneider said. "I'd tell him we're happy he could come to Southeast Missouri."

The vice president likely won't stay very long after he finishes his speech because he has another engagement later in the day in another state, said Jennifer Millerwise, a spokeswoman for Cheney.

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