A crowd of about 15,000 overwhelmingly Republican mid-Missourians gave President George W. Bush an enthusiastic reception as he visited the Boone County Fairgrounds Tuesday. Attendees highlighted the war on terrorism and the economy as their foremost concerns but also emphasized moral integrity and social conservatism.
“Terrorism is a big issue for me,” said Philip Johnson, 62, a retiree of the telecommunications firm TelCo. “I think (Bush is) going after them where they live, and I don’t think this is something you can sit and wait on. I think this is something you have to be proactive about, and I think he’s done an excellent job with that.”
Others expressed equally firm support for Bush’s handling of foreign policy.
“I like how he took the battle overseas,” said Robert Johnson, 24, an MU employee. “I don’t think the U.N. is the answer to our problems.”
Crowd members also voiced strong approval for Bush’s tax cuts and what they see as his bold embrace of the entrepreneurial spirit.
Sue Gelven, 62, a retired school teacher, said she supports Bush “because he’s for cutting taxes, keeping taxes low, encouraging entrepreneurship, encouraging people to own a piece of something.”
“George W. Bush in particular is very adamant about letting people keep their own money, and support themselves and take care of themselves,” she said.
Bush supporters also praised what they saw as their candidate’s decisiveness and criticized his Democratic challenger John Kerry for allegedly wavering on a number of issues.
“Flip-flops are definitely in style as far as fashion is concerned, so Kerry is in style, but he’s not in tune with what this country really needs,” said Bobbie Kincade, 54, director of a conference center.
Attendees also lauded what they saw as Bush’s steadfast resolve.
“I like the fact he came out and really supported the issues he’s talked about — no flip-flop,” said Richard Hatch, 24, who identifies himself as an undecided voter.
Bush’s perceived moral integrity emerged as strength in the minds of many supporters.
“Bush hasn’t played any hanky panky at the White House,” said James Lee, 73, referencing former President Bill Clinton. “He carries himself well.”
Contentious social issues were also prominent on the minds of many crowd members.
Rachel Burkhardt, 37, a daycare teacher, voiced strong opposition to abortion and gay marriage and condemned the Democratic Party for “going against what God has lined for us.”
“The most important thing to me is that we vote our morality, and George Bush represents our morality,” she said.