This article originally provided by The Charleston Gazette

July 27, 2006

President hears cheers, jeers

Bush helps raise money for Capito

By Dave Gustafson and Anna L. Mallory
Staff writers By Veronica Nett
Staff writer

President George W. Bush spent a few hours in Charleston Wednesday afternoon, raising money for a political ally at a private fundraiser and getting jeered by opponents of the war in Iraq.

Air Force One touched down at Yeager Airport at 4 p.m. Bush and U.S. Rep. Shelley Moore Capito, R-W.Va., got off the plane and were first greeted by Gen. Allen Tackett, head of the state’s National Guard.

Republican officials said about 275 people attended the fundraiser, which raised an estimated $500,000 for Capito. Many paid the maximum of $2,100 per person. She is seeking a fourth two-year term in a race against Democrat Mike Callaghan.

Point Pleasant resident Sandy Dunn, vice president of the National Association of Home Builders, said Bush’s speech at the fundraiser was candid and friendly.

“He’s the closest thing I’ve seen to Ronald Reagan,” she said “He has that charming and warm personality.”

Gritts Greenhouse employee Heidi Haynes, 25, of Winfield said Bush’s speech blew her away.

“He talked about life as the president and things in the White House that have sentimental value to him,” she said. “During his speech, he talked about the importance of getting [Capito] back in and what a great job she is doing.”

Just after landing at Yeager, Bush met with Joe Dailey, a Neighborhood Assistance Officer with the Charleston Police Department Volunteers in Police Service program.

In Dailey’s three years as a volunteer, he has logged more than 2,000 hours with the program. Dailey helps police with monitoring DUI checkpoints, neighborhood patrols and traffic control after accidents. He is one of more than 500 volunteers honored by Bush since March 2002 as a USA Freedom Corps greeter.

Bush presented Dailey with a pin and greeted several local politicians before getting in his motorcade to go to the fundraiser.

A red U.S. Coast Guard boat sped up the Kanawha River alongside Bush’s motorcade as it made its way along Kanawha Boulevard to the home of former Charleston Treasurer Drew Payne and his wife Mary.

The event was closed to the press corps, but national and local media were offered a spot to work in a three-car garage on the Paynes’ property, stocked with beer, Australian wine, enchiladas and pork medallions with vegetable medley

People hoping to catch a glimpse of the president lined the motorcade route along Greenbrier Street and Kanawha Boulevard. Protesters outnumbered supporters until the motorcade got into South Hills.

Some of the signs read “How Many More Bodies?”, “Dubya Dubya III” and “Thank God For Term Limits.” Some Bush-Cheney campaign signs and “Freedom is Not Free” signs were also visible.

A man wearing an American flag shirt saluted the motorcade upon its departure as he stood beside a flag-pattern chair with another flag attached.

More than 50 protesters lined up along the South Side Bridge as Bush rode by on the way to the fundraiser and again on the way back. Many flashed peace signs while one man showed his middle finger.

Some dressed in orange and pink shirts espousing “No War.” Others were armed with hand-painted signs scrawled with anti-war slogans or white banners marked with the names of dead soldiers, forming a wall along the bridge’s walkway.

“I don’t think it matters if [Bush] pays attention, but if we get other people to pay attention, then it will,” said 16-year-old David Swain, whose mother, Carrie Swain, is president of West Virginia Patriots for Peace. “I just like to participate in government.”

Madeline Ranson, 19, said she wanted to represent a movement of concerned teenagers. Ranson said she’s anti-violence, anti-war and wants young people to exercise their rights to share their views more often.

“Just because we’re not being drafted doesn’t mean they don’t need to be here. If they reinstated the draft, people would be down here in droves,” she said.

Barbara Ferraro, co-director of Covenant House in Charleston, said she is ashamed of what the Bush administration has failed to do for the poor in the nation.

“It’s encroaching in all of our lives, middle class and the poor,” she said.

A few women waved small red, white and green Lebanese flags as well as American flags.

Wafa Hamaty, who came to the United States 15 years ago, said she wanted the president to see that the recent unrest in her home country is important to her, just as issues in the states are relevant.

“We just want peace,” she said shortly after the motorcade made its way across the bridge. “We don’t want our country to be destroyed. We have family there and we cannot forget about them.”

Bush spoke at the Paynes’ home for about an hour before departing for Yeager.

The president’s motorcade came to a halt when Bush stopped to buy some lemonade from a South Hills girl on his way out of town.

Charleston attorney John Miesner’s 8-year-old daughter, Mary Melinda, set up a lemonade stand at their home on Bedford Road, but moved it Jim and Jean Miller’s property on Loudon Heights Road after the Secret Service asked them to move it.

Little did they know that the president would drop in for a cold drink. Miesner introduced himself to presidential adviser Karl Rove while the president spoke with his daughter and her friends.

Bush told the kids he liked their marketing campaign, which included signs that read “God bless W” and “Lemonade for the President, 50 cents.”

He bought a few cups for reporters and photographers traveling with him.

“A couple of members of the press sheepishly came forward to receive lemonade,” Miesner said. “It was a very nice surprise that he actually stopped.”

Bush did not drink the lemonade himself, telling the kids he had to watch his weight since he turned 60, Miesner said. Capito drank up, complimenting the kids.

They and the national press corps left Yeager Airport at 6:46 p.m. aboard Air Force One.

Callaghan, Capito’s opponent, said Bush’s visit shows Capito’s vulnerability this November and her solidarity with the Bush administration’s failed policies. He held his own fundraiser Wednesday evening, asking $21 per person for dinner, or 1 percent of the maximum allowable donation.

“The Callaghan campaign is about changing the direction of this country, which includes pushing the administration to find a way to end the war in Iraq, pushing the administration into providing health care for every man, woman and child, and pushing the administration into making prescription medication affordable to our seniors,” he said.

Several Charleston streets, including parts of Greenbrier Street and Kanawha Boulevard, were closed by police for Bush’s visit, making headaches for downtown rush-hour commuters.

The Associated Press contributed to this report. To contact Dave Gustafson, Anna L. Mallory or Veronica Nett, use e-mail or call 348-5100.


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