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Published: Thursday, 10/21/2004

Twins stump for dad at Miami U.

BY JIM PROVANCE
BLADE COLUMBUS BUREAU

OXFORD, Ohio - Kurt Gengenbacher, a 21-year-old student at Miami University, didn't really expect that hearing from Jenna and Barbara Bush would help him decide whether to vote for their father on Nov. 2.

But he joined about 300 fellow students anyway in a campus gymnasium to hear from the twins.

"Showing that they care enough to come here is part of it, but obviously they're not going to be the ones making the decisions in the end," said Mr. Gengenbacher, an exercise science student from Oswego, Ill. He registered to vote for the first time this year.

Yesterday's visit on the Oxford campus is another example of how candidates are increasingly relying on family to campaign in battleground states. Wives often target women and their children often focus on the youth vote.

"We know colleges are not the easiest places to be Republican in the world," said Barbara Bush. "Some people think you're not supposed to vote Republican until you turn 40."

Today, while John Kerry goes duck hunting in Youngstown and campaigns in Columbus, his daughter, Vanessa, will participate in a get-out-the-vote event for women in Cleveland.

Mr. Kerry's wife, Teresa Heinz Kerry, and two stepsons have also stumped for him in the state. His running mate, John Edwards, has heavily targeted Ohio as has his wife, Elizabeth.

Vice President Dick Cheney's wife, Lynne, usually serves as his opening speaker.

It seems that just about everybody in George Bush's immediate family has campaigned in Ohio, with the exception of his mother, Barbara, whom her granddaughters affectionately referred to as "The Enforcer."

"Everyone knows how important [this election] is to them," said Nathan Colvin, chairman of the Miami University College Republicans. "They're just about to enter the work force. A lot of students feel that if John Kerry is elected, it's going to have a negative effect on the economy.

"Other students feel probably the same way about George Bush," he said. "They're really concerned about the economy, and that's why they're really excited about this election, more excited probably than since the Vietnam War era."

Contact Jim Provance at:

jprovance@theblade.com or

614-221-0496.



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