Skip to comments.Cheney Goes a Great Distance to Stump for Votes
Posted on 11/01/2004 5:27:45 PM PST by conservative in nyc
ONOLULU, Hawaii, Nov. 1 - Vice President Dick Cheney told a madly cheering crowd of thousands of supporters in the Hawaii Convention Center late Sunday night that they mattered in the nation's presidential election for the first time in a very long time.
"I'm here because Hawaii is a vital state in this election and President Bush and I would be honored to have your vote," he said, eliciting a boisterous call for "Four More Years!" from the crowd. "On Tuesday, we're going to surprise a lot of people on the Mainland because we're going to carry Hawaii."
The Vice President's last minute swing through this traditionally stalwart Democratic state was prompted by recent polls showing President George W. Bush and Senator John Kerry in a dead heat that puts the state's presidential race and its four electoral votes up for grabs.
In a roughly 25-minute talk at what was billed by Republicans as a "victory rally," the Vice President tried to reach across Hawaii's strong Democratic base and touch its roughly 12 percent of undecided voters. "It doesn't matter what party you belong to or who you voted for in the past, we're asking for your support," he said.
Mr. Cheney compared the attacks of Sept. 11, 2001 to Pearl Harbor, and said the recent videotape released by Osama Bin Laden was a reminder of the on-going global war on terror. "This is a conflict we did not choose," he said in a familiar refrain of the Bush Administration, "but it's one we will win."
Mr. Cheney addressed the Honolulu crowd just two days after a videotape surfaced in which the Al Qaeda leader said for the first time that he ordered the attacks of Sept. 11, 2001. In the tape, which FBI officials said they believe is authentic, Bin Laden also drew comparisons between the Bush administration and "corrupt" Arab regimes, and faulted the president for continuing to read to school children, giving the terrorists more time to execute their attacks.
Appealing to Hawaii's large contingent of military families and veterans, Mr. Cheney cited what he called the Administration's successes in Iraq and Afghanistan and underscored Mr. Bush's refusal to "seek a permission slip" to defend the country. He reminded the crowd of terror attacks reaching all the way back to Pan Am 103 and the attack on U.S. Marines in Lebanon 21 years ago. He heavily criticized Sen. Kerry's record on defense and security issues, brought up the senator's seemingly contradictory votes on Iraq, and said he'd "turned his back on the troops."
"President Bush has a strategy for winning the war on terror," he said. "Senator Kerry does not."
Several hecklers jeered from the back rows.
Mr. Cheney credited the Bush Administration and Republicans for Hawaii's improved economy and one of the lowest unemployment rates in the country. Hawaii elected its first Republican governor in 40 years, Linda Lingle, in 2002.
Before the event began, the supporters sang "God Bless America" with local entertainers, waved flags, ate cold, boxed dinners called "bentos," and were entertained by hula dancers. About 13,000 free tickets to the event had been printed, said Hawaii Republican Party Chairman Brennon Morioka.
"We want to show our base that the Bush-Cheney campaign considers Hawaii a valuable asset to the nation," Mr. Morioka said, noting that President Bush visited in late 2003. "The Democrats have taken Hawaii for granted. They just expected to get Hawaii."
Hawaii has voted for Republican presidential candidates only twice: for Richard Nixon in 1972 and for Ronald Reagan in 1984. Both, like Mr. Bush, were incumbents. In 2000, Democratic presidential candidate Al Gore got 55 percent of the vote to Mr. Bush's 37 percent.
Mr. Gore and Alexandra Kerry, daughter of the Democratic presidential candidate, both visited earlier in the weekend. And both parties have stepped up the pressure in recent days, flooding local television and radio with advertising and peppering homes with taped telephone messages from high-profile supporters, such as Sen. John McCain and Gen. Wesley Clark. Both campaigns have also increased their "sign waving" efforts, a local tradition of standing along the highway waving signs for a candidate.
Inside the convention center last night, the crowd cheered, stomped, flashed Bush-Cheney posters and chanted "Four more years" as local anchors broadcast the event live on the 10 p.m. newscasts.
"We know where George Bush is coming from," said 36-year-old Honolulu construction worker David Bright, who added that his family votes Democratic, but that he registered to vote this year for the first time, as a Republican. "He's a simple man, but a solid man. John Kerry hasn't explained himself to us."
Other participants came for the bright lights and excitement of being part of a national campaign, something that does not often happen in the usually neglected, traditionally Democratic state.
"I just want to be part of the big picture and see Cheney in person," said Waikiki resident Joyce Lahl. "I've seen him on TV and I really admire him."
Outside the Convention Center before the event began, several dozen protesters, many dressed in Halloween costumes, held signs with slogans like "Pro-American, Anti-Bush" and "Scariest President Ever." Many of them chanted "Two more days!" in response to the calls of Bush supporters waiting across the street to enter the Cheney event for "four more years."
"Iraq is unwinnable. We need to get my friends home," said Jacques Porche, a 40-year-old homeless veteran dressed like the devil and holding an American flag full of holes, who said he defected from the Republican party and formally joined the Democrats in July. "I'm going to do everything I can to fire George Bush from office."
"I'm out here because I just can't stand what's happening in this election," said Byrde Cestare from the seaside town of Kailua about a half-hour away. "I want to do anything I can to help it go for Kerry."
With very little to explain why, two separate polls conducted in mid-October showed Mr. Bush and Mr. Kerry essentially tied. One poll put Mr. Bush one point ahead, while the other put the candidates less than a point apart. Undecided voters ranged from 9 to 12 percent in the polls. The margin of error in each poll was 4 percent.
Political analysts said it is difficult to judge the likely impact of the visits by Mr. Cheney and Mr. Gore.
"Overall, the impact of the visit isn't going to change very many people's minds," said Neal Milner, political science professor at the University of Hawaii. "But how many minds does it have to change to make a difference? If you assume the polls are right, then even a small amount of change can make a difference."
Mr. Milner added however, that the polls may not be right, and that more polls would be needed to get a true reading of the electorate's direction.
Hawaii's unexpected emergence as a potential player in this race could propel its often anti-climactic election returns into the limelight Tuesday night. The polls close at 6 p.m. here, which is 11 p.m. on the East Coast.
"If it is a close race then everyone will be waiting to see what happens out here," said Gregory Gaydos, associate professor of political science at Hawaii Pacific University. "We count for the first time."
In telephone conversations after the polls appeared, spokesmen for each party said their candidate would work hard to win Hawaii.
"Hawaii plus the combination of one other state can probably make a difference, so both parties are really paying attention to every state," said Aaron Ling Johanson, political director for the Hawaii Republican Party.
"It was a reminder that we can't take a single vote for granted," said Democratic National Committee spokesman Josh Earnest. "And it's a reminder that we have to earn the votes of the voters of Hawaii. And we're going to do it."
Hawaii elected its first Republican governor in 40 years in 2002, but political analysts say it's unlikely that Mr. Bush's strength here indicates a fundamental shift to the right. Ms. Lingle won by only 51 percent against an extraordinarily weak candidate, and her coat tails did not produce large gains for Republicans in the state legislature. Recent polls also suggest Hawaii will send the two Democratic congressmen and Democratic senator, Daniel K. Inouye, who is up for re-election, back to Washington on Tuesday.
But for now, this little state of 1.3 million people, so often overlooked and taken for granted, is feeling a bit important.
"It clearly puts Hawaii in a different position than it's been in a long time," the University of Hawaii's Milner said. "In 1980 I went to the polls to vote and Carter had conceded already. That's kind of the standard joke here."
ATERLOO, Iowa, Oct. 31 - Everywhere he goes, Senator John Edwards says that every vote counts, and to make the point he went for a stroll on Sunday amid the split-levels and fallen leaves of a closely contested voting ward in Columbus, Ohio.
"I hope you all are going to vote," he told Misty and Paul Williams on the steps of their home on Manitoba Court, getting nods of support. "We want your vote. This is a very important election."
The neighborhood, Ward 62, went for Mr. Bush by a 12-vote margin in 2000, campaign aides said, a result Mr. Edwards sought to help reverse with a choreographed canvass of six houses in a state that is essentially deadlocked and could prove pivotal to the victor.
The doorstep pitches came on a day that was all about marshaling voters to the polls. The day also included an appearance at a black church in Jacksonville, Fla., and rallies in Latrobe, Pa., and this small town 90 miles northeast of Des Moines.
Mr. Edwards showed a populist touch, in speech and manner. He spoke from the bed of a pickup truck - painted red, white and blue and with a grinning Kerry face on the sides - in a schoolyard before his house visits in Columbus.
And in these last few days of the race, Mr. Edwards, a former trial lawyer, has been boiling down his message to what sounds like last-minute instructions to the jury, in this case the voters.
"Let's assume you get to the polling place first thing in the morning," he said at the Latrobe rally.
"You just dropped the kids off at school, car's run out gas - sounds familiar, doesn't it? - and so in the morning you ask yourself, has the price of gas gone up?"
"Yes!" the crowd roared back.
"Has college tuition gone up? Is George Bush going to fight for my job as hard as George Bush fights for his own job? Do I want four more years of this or do I want a fresh start with John Kerry in the White House?"
He hit particularly hard on domestic themes like job loss and health care, but he also sought to vouch for Mr. Kerry's bona fides on national defense and terrorism.
"He took bullets for this country when he didn't have to," Mr. Edwards said.
On Monday Mr. Edwards will rally supporters in St. Paul, Des Moines, Cincinnati and Pensacola, Fla. On Tuesday he will spend much of the day in Florida before arriving in Boston to await election results with Mr. Kerry.
On Sunday, as Vice President Dick Cheney headed for Hawaii for a rally, Mr. Edwards conducted interviews by telephone with newspaper reporters from that state, which is usually solidly Democratic but where polls show the race has suddenly tightened.
But the focus of the day was on the mainland battlegrounds, including Florida, where Democrats are seeking to avoid a repeat of the recount in 2000 that delivered the state to Mr. Bush by 537 votes.
"We're not waiting for Tuesday, right?" he said to parishioners at Greater Grant Memorial A.M.E. Church in Jacksonville, letting his drawl run looser than usual. "No, we're going to go and vote, we're going to vote today, we're going to vote tomorrow. We're going to make sure your votes are counted this time."
bless you, cInyc....
Not a bad article from the NYT. Must've been a stringer.
There was an interesting call this afternoon to a local talk show (Baltimore) from a guy who was very familiar with Hawaii. He mentioned several factors leading to a possible change in HI:
1. Republican governor is apparently very popular.
2. Lots of military and military retirees.
3. Lt. Gov. has long been telling people who typically vote in their home states via absentee ballot to stop and vote in Hawaii.
4. Same-sex marriage. Hawaii was where it all started. (I had forgotten that)
And then, there is terrorism. In some ways, Hawaii is closer to Bali than to the mainland of the U.S..
So, Mawaii just might shift.
Holy smokes! Has hell frozen over? Amazingly positive article on Cheney. Amazing.
My beeber is stuned by this my friend!