President touches hearts, encourages voter participation

By Abby Morris
STAR STAFF
amorris@starhq.com

  
During President George W. Bush's Saturday morning visit to the Tri-Cities, he announced to the crowd that he has a soft spot in his heart for Tennessee, and it appears that Tennesseans have a soft spot in their hearts for him.
   The president's visit to the area was part of a five-day, 15-state tour to increase voter turnout and support for the Republican party.
   During his speech, Bush encouraged voters to go to the polls on Tuesday and to send leaders to office who would reflect the morals and values of East Tennessee.
   Comments such as these did not fall on deaf ears.
   Joe Long, a resident of Blountville, took the words to heart.
   "I like how he emphasized how important it is to take a stand for the things you believe in and to vote for the person you think can represent that stand," Long said.
   Bush encouraged all voters to get out and vote, whether they were Republican, Democrat or independent. "Once you get in the box, I have some suggestions for you though," Bush said.
   Long thought it was good for Bush to encourage all parties to make it to the polls.
   "It's very important to get out and vote," Long said.
   Bush elicited cheers from the crowd when he spoke about the current situation in Iraq and the events of Sept. 11, 2001.
   The president stated that his main focus is "preventing the American people from coming under attack again by a bunch of cold-blooded killers. Those people hate us for what we love."
   Part of his mission to ensure that happens includes making sure that the nation of Iraq disarms its weapons of mass destruction. If the United Nations does not make efforts to see to it that that happens, the responsibility to see it through will come to the United States of America, Bush said.
   "This nation in the name of freedom and in the name of peace will lead a coalition to disarm Saddam Hussein," he said.
   Bush also touched the hearts of the crowd with his stirring words about freedom.
   "Freedom is not man's gift to the world, it's God's gift to the world," Bush said.
   That statement touched a lot of people in the crowd.
   "He made a statement about man not giving us freedom, that God did, and that really impressed me and touched me," said Johnson City resident Joy Wilson, who added that she was excited that she got to hear the president.
   Blountville resident Anita Long agreed that Bush's statement about freedom impressed her. "That statement just stuck with me," she said.