George W. Bush was in Duluth on Tuesday. I took the kids up to join a protest and to see my in-laws.
Tickets to the event were given out by the local Republican office. If you wanted to go, it was simple -- you called the office, they asked who you would be voting for, and if you gave the right answer, you got a ticket.
That's right -- they asked you who you were going to vote for. If you said Kerry, or if you didn't know, sorry, no ticket.
Even if you just wanted tickets to bring your kids to see the president, as an exercise in civic pride, but you weren't planning on voting or honestly hadn't made up your mind yet -- if you didn't say Bush, you weren't going. Isn't that wonderful?
They maybe should have rethought their strategy -- by picking through the attendees like that, they could only come up with 7,000 supporters in the Northland. The DECC seats 8,000.
In his speech, Bush said, "I believe the heart and soul of America is found in places right here." Which is an obvious reference to the fact that Duluth votes heavily Democratic and DFL, consistently. It was nice of him to acknowledge that.
Then he made a reference to the "Iron Ridge," which some of us can be excused for mistaking for a soap-opera character. He actually was talking about the Iron Range, although I don't know why he would bring that up -- cheap steel imports have devastated the area, and while it wavers on social issues, it's as hard-core DFL as any part of the state.
There were about 1,500 people at the protest. The vast majority of them were peace protesters. I saw three union people -- a painter business agent, a Teamster and an AFSCME person. I should have seen 3,000.
John saw a sign that showed a picture of Bush with his pants on fire. "Liar, liar," it said. John was delighted that he could read the sign and laughed about it all the way home.