REPUBLICAN LUNCHEON - Aya Batrawy

05/21/04

MEANWHILE ACROSS TOWN IN WEST TAMPA, REPUBILCAN CHAIRMAN ED GUILESPI DEFENDED THE BUSH ADMINSTRATION AND SUPPORTED HIS NO CHILD LEFT BEHIND EDUCATION INITIATIVE. WMNF’S Aya Batrawy was there and filed this report.

Viva Bush, or live Bush, was the slogan at today’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 Bush’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 Florida’s educational achievements.

SOUNDBITE: RAISE ACHIEVEMENTS, FLROIDA FAIRING WELL

He also commended Bush’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 Children’s Defense Network reports that the administration also proposed a 20 million dollar cut in Florida’s after-school program funds… 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 it’s hard to support all of Jeb Bush’s education policies but remains optimistic.

SOUNDBITE: Cant support him on that

Heddingjer doesn’t mind a rise in tuition prices but says he wants to see changes in places other than his wallet.

SOUNDBITE: Don’t mind paying more for college, students don’t vote question

Even without a strong voting body, Heddingjer says he would fight in Iraq if the draft was reinstated but says he’s ashamed he isn’t in Iraq fighting today alongside other boys and girls his age.

SOUNDBITE:ASHAMED

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 don’t reflect the U.S.’s mission in Iraq or American soldiers.

SOUNDBITE: stab at kennedy

Guilespi added that the voters in Florida appreciate Bush’s resolve on the war on terror. He didn’t hesitate to take a stab at Kerry’s position on the issue.

Guilespi: KERRY DOESN’T CALL IT WAR

Kristen Alavarez, another Bush supporter at today’s Republican luncheon, says there are only two main issues in this year’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 Republicans’ 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.

SOUNDBITE: Morals

21 year-old Kevin Heddingjer says that nine-eleven is a day he won’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

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