Pro-Troop rally fizzles in Tampa

06/18/07 Mitch E. Perry
WMNF Drive-Time News Monday | Listen to this entire show:

Pro-Iraq War Rally draws few in Tampa

Anti-war activists say they support the troops in Iraq, and therefore want them to come home safely. But several men who spoke at a pro-Iraq war rally over the weekend in Tampa say that’s NOT the type of support the troops are looking

Organizers assembled around 300 chairs for the morning rally in Tampa’s downtown Joe Chilura Park Saturday morning . But only between 50 to 60 people came out in the humid morning .

(roll tape#1 o.q.”quite frankly ludicrous”)Travis Van Buren has served 2 previous tours in Kuwait and Iraq, and will return back to Iraq later this week. He’s not a fan of the anti-war left (roll tape#2 o.q.”support our troops”)

Van Buren was one of 4 guest speakers who addressed the “Florida Victory Rally” organized by the national group Vets4victory, and the Community Issues Council, a local Christian organization headed by Terry Kempel, best known for his crusades against pornography and bikini bars.

Retired Lieutenant Colonel Scott Rutter is the Vice Chairman for Vets for Victory, and was awarded a Silver Star for his work in taking Baghdad International Airport at the beginning of the invasion. He said rallies like this past Saturdays are to give recognition to those serving in Iraq right now (roll tape#3 o.q.”thank you very much”)

The latest Wall Street Journal NBC News Poll shows that 54% of Americans think that the situation in Iraq has gotten worse in the past 3 months, while only 10% say its gotten better. However, the same poll showed that only 37% of those surveyed believe there should be a timetable for a withdrawal of troops, while a majority, 58% do not.

Retired Lieutenant Colonel Steve Russell commanded the 1st Battalion, 22nd Infantry 'Regulars' and conducted combat in Tikrit, Iraq from the spring of 2003 to the spring of 2004. He condemned the anti-war movement (roll tape#4 o.q.” until the job is done”)

And Russell criticized those who oppose the war as being selfish (roll tape#5 oq..”than her cookies”)

Pasco County area GOP Congressman Gus Bilirakis and Tampa State Representative Trey Treviesa were both invited to the rally. Neither appeared, though a spokesman for Bilirakis did make some comments.

Over the weekend, Defense Secretary Robert Gates visitied Iraq, where he expressed frustration with the pace of Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki’s government, particularly in winning over the discontented Sunnis to the political process.

There are still serious questions about how quickly the Iraqi Army is being trained, and when will they – as President Bush used to say, “Step up, so American forces can stand down’

Army Seargent Travis Van Buren, who leaves for a 3rd tour of duty in Iraq on Wednesday, expressed patience in discussing how soon the Iraqi’s will be able to take over their own responsibilities. (roll tape#6 o.q.”quite frankly, wrong”)

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