Bush v Kerry in Portland
The benefits of incumbency were George W. Bush's on Friday when both he and John Kerry came to Portland to woo the voters. Bush could count on getting maximum exposure without having to face many people because as President his speech in front of "almost 2000" people in a Beaverton High School was carried live on all four local stations. Furthermore, the timing of the speech was carefully planned to stomp on the first part of the Kerry rally at the Tom McCall Waterfront Park. As befitting an unpopular president, the Bush speech was performed in front of a carefully selected audience and protected from the 200 or so protesters by police outfitted in riot gear. As usual the protesters were barricaded within a "free speech zone", aka: an area bounded by a chain link fence topped by barbed wire.
Kerry's speech on the other hand was open to the public and he drew the largest crowd yet seen in this campaign. Over 50,000 people showed up during the middle of a work day to hear John Kerry and thousands were turned away when the capacity of the area was filled to overflowing. The local television stations also carried Kerry's speech live, so the people at home could have a nice contrast between the Boy King and the man who has the capability of being a president that we (and the world) can once again respect and admire.
The speeches were also a study in contrasts as George Bush touted his environmental record for the "Leave no Forest Behind" act (aka: Bush's Healthy Forests travesty) and his record for creating jobs. Kerry talked about what a real environmental policy would do ("one that represents the American people and not the corporate polluters") and how he would use his vision for energy independence to help drive new job creation.
Over 8000 people showed up to hear John Kerry in Medford, a red-state part of Oregon that helps make Oregon a swing state. As Laura Capps said, these were "October crowds in August".
The Republican spinmeisters made sure everyone knew that George W Bush was ahead of the game, because he has more solid supporters and a more substantive policy affecting the lives of Oregonians than Kerry.
“The key thing is, Bush had 2,000 people turn out who will be energized by his speech and will go out and try to get people to vote,” Moore said. “Kerry had 40,000 people.”
...“As much as everyone enjoys seeing their favorite celebrities, at the end of the day, Oregonians place more value on the president’s substantive policies that have a direct, positive impact on their lives,” Bush campaign spokeswoman Tracy Schmitt said.
Yet, how often do you think that Karl Rove will put his boy up in a head-to-head campaign stop when the headlines afterwards are all about "Kerry tops President in Oregon face-time"?