REPUBLICAN LUNCHEON - Aya Batrawy05/21/04
MEANWHILE ACROSS TOWN IN WEST TAMPA, REPUBILCAN CHAIRMAN ED GUILESPI DEFENDED THE BUSH ADMINSTRATION AND SUPPORTED HIS NO CHILD LEFT BEHIND EDUCATION INITIATIVE. WMNFâ€™S Aya Batrawy was there and filed this report.
Viva Bush, or live Bush, was the slogan at todayâ€™s Le Terevisita luncheon for Tampa Bay Republicans.
They came from all over the Bay Area to hear Republican Chairman Ed Guilespi talk about President Bushâ€™s No Child Left Behind Policy and support the president for re-election.
SOUNDBITE: VOTE BUSH!
The crowd of over 200 was a sea of diversity, ranging from single mothers, to African American business owners to college students looking for a chance to mingle with other local Republicans.
Guilespi, also called a Republican pitbull by collegues, kicked off the event with his unwavering support for Bush and his No Child Left Behind Policy.
Guilespi gives credit to Jeb Bush and the President for what he called Floridaâ€™s educational achievements.
SOUNDBITE: RAISE ACHIEVEMENTS, FLROIDA FAIRING WELL
He also commended Bushâ€™s No Child Left Behind Policy as one that helps minority students.
SOUNDBITE: TWICE THE LEVEL
But according to a congressional report, in last year the Bush administration cut 21 million dollars from bilingual education programs. Another report by the Childrenâ€™s Defense Network reports that the administration also proposed a 20 million dollar cut in Floridaâ€™s after-school program fundsâ€¦ leaving some skeptics to say the no child left behind policy IS leaving students BEHIND.
The chairman of the Republican Committee argued, though, that Florida is doing well compared to other states.
SOUNDBITE: COMPARED TO 50 STATES
21 year-old Kevin Heddingjer was one Bush supporter today who knows first-hand the struggles of attending a state university. As a political science student at the University of South Florida, he says itâ€™s hard to support all of Jeb Bushâ€™s education policies but remains optimistic.
SOUNDBITE: Cant support him on that
Heddingjer doesnâ€™t mind a rise in tuition prices but says he wants to see changes in places other than his wallet.
SOUNDBITE: Donâ€™t mind paying more for college, students donâ€™t vote question
Even without a strong voting body, Heddingjer says he would fight in Iraq if the draft was reinstated but says heâ€™s ashamed he isnâ€™t in Iraq fighting today alongside other boys and girls his age.
Doing more in the war on terror is what Republican Chariman Ed Guilepsi said Bush is doing and Kerry is not.
He also defended the war in Iraq and said the recent prison abuses at Abu Ghareib prison donâ€™t reflect the U.S.â€™s mission in Iraq or American soldiers.
SOUNDBITE: stab at kennedy
Guilespi added that the voters in Florida appreciate Bushâ€™s resolve on the war on terror. He didnâ€™t hesitate to take a stab at Kerryâ€™s position on the issue.
Guilespi: KERRY DOESNâ€™T CALL IT WAR
Kristen Alavarez, another Bush supporter at todayâ€™s Republican luncheon, says there are only two main issues in this yearâ€™s election that really matter to her.
SOUNBITE: police gas prices
The economy is another serious issue for Republicans and Democrats.
On a day where over a hundred thousand workers for SBC communications are on strike because their company is exporting jobs, Guilepsi says that jobs are being created under the Bush administration and that this trend is a reflection of nationwide progress.
SOUNDBITE: Florida rates
Hugh Palmer is a businessman who not only believes in the Republicansâ€™ economic decisions but also says that he is proof that not all African Americans vote democrat.
SOUNBITE: A myth
Conservative values are another thing Republicans push for.
42 year-old engineer Cliff Roberts, drove from Brandon to be among fellow Republicans today. He wants a fiscally responsible leader with Christian morals.
21 year-old Kevin Heddingjer says that nine-eleven is a day he wonâ€™t forget and hopes that voting for Bush will help prevent another tragedy.
SOUNDBITE: WATHC VIDEO
Until November nine-eleven and national security will be top issues debated and unforgetten in the minds of candidates and voters alike.
Reporting for WMNF this is Aya Batrawy