Tuesday, August 17, 2004

Don't Believe Your Eyes

If you see a Bush "Town Hall Meeting" or rally on television, you could be forgiven for thinking that his support is strong wherever he goes. You would, however, be wrong.

President Bush's team exerts close control over admission to his campaign events. Dissenters and would-be hecklers are turned away, campaign officials say. On several occasions in recent weeks, Democrats who have gotten in have been ejected because they wore pro-Kerry T-shirts.


Last month, some Democrats who signed up to hear Vice President Dick Cheney speak near Albuquerque, N.M., were refused tickets unless they signed a pledge to endorse Bush. The Bush campaign described the measure as a security step designed to avoid a disruption it contended had been planned.


Bush's admission policy can leave the impression that the president has strong support wherever he goes.

Labor unions traditionally align with Democrats and have not been particularly friendly to Bush. So when Bush spoke at a Las Vegas union hall Thursday, the campaign used its usual ticket distribution policy to pack the hall with backers.

The crowd roared its approval throughout the speech. Some tickets were also given to union members. A few of them sat silently in the back rows.

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