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Published: Saturday, 10/23/2004

Billionaire activist to visit UT


The University of Toledo will play host Tuesday to one of the loudest voices and little-known faces in the 2004 presidential race.

Billionaire George Soros, one of the wealthiest men ever to visit the city, will speak at a forum sponsored by the UT college of business administration and its International Business Institute as part of a multicity tour he is making across the country.

His talk is set for 11 a.m. at the Driscoll Alumni Center auditorium.

Mr. Soros is the chief benefactor to such liberal advocacy groups as MoveOn.org and the Voter Fund, two groups that have attacked President Bush nonstop in Toledo television advertisements since December.

Those ads - and full-page ads he's bought in newspapers - have run in many media markets in key battleground states around the country.

He has spent more than $15 million on the advocacy groups, according to a report in the Washington Post.

"America, under Bush, is a danger to the world,'' Mr. Soros said in a Post story published almost a year ago, "And I'm willing to put my money where my mouth is.''

Mr. Soros, a native Hungarian who has given an estimated $5 billion to promote democracy in the former Soviet Union and in Africa and Asia, has devoted millions to an effort to defeat President Bush in the November election.

Mr. Soros is vehement in his opposition to the Iraq war. In a posting at his Web site, www.georgesoros.com, Mr. Soros voiced his support for Democratic challenger John Kerry, responding to a message from a reader: "As Senator Kerry pointed out in the first presidential debate, we were attacked by bin Laden, not by Saddam Hussein. President Bush is responsible for going after the wrong target."

He has called the defeat of President Bush in this year's election "the central focus of my life," adding that the race is "a matter of life and death."

Dan Brennan, a longtime member of the UT board of trustees, said he learned of the invitation only after it was proffered to Mr. Soros, and that it had upset members of the board because of its apparent political overtones, its timing, and its location, coming as it does just a week before the general election on the campus of an important university in a key swing state.

All nine trustees on the University of Toledo board are Republicans, appointed by Republican Govs. George Voinovich and Bob Taft.

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