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Tri-State residents react to Bush, Gore speeches

December 14, 2000

Tri-State residents react to Bush, Gore speeches



By ANDREW SCHOTZ / Staff Writer


Wednesday night's speeches by Al Gore and George W. Bush elicited everything from hostility to respect, from pity to relief, among Tri-State residents who watched them.

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The majority of people interviewed Thursday - about three of every five - hadn't seen the nationally televised speeches. Some people weren't interested, while others were working or traveling. One man fell asleep.

Whether they supported Gore, the Democrat, or Bush, the Republican, most people said they were glad the prolonged presidential election was finally over.

Janet Holzhauser, 55, of Martinsburg, W.Va., said Gore delivered a fine speech in what was probably an emotional time for him.

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"He was hurting really bad," she said. "You could see it in his eyes. He didn't want to have to give that speech. But he did the right thing."

As he conceded more than a month after Election Day, Gore said he was disappointed with the U.S. Supreme Court's ruling, but will support Bush as president.

Bush responded with good wishes for Gore, then reiterated his commitment to national progress in education, tax relief and military strength.

"I'm glad Bush won ...," said Moe Kay, 27, of Hagerstown. "He made a lot of good points."

"I voted for Bush, but I felt good about both speeches," said Mary Ellen Scallion, 72, of Hagerstown. "I believe they were sincere."

Gore was "quite a bit more eloquent than he was during the campaign," said Deborah Devore, 44, of Hagerstown. She said she thought both speeches "indicate a direction of reconciliation."

Linda Horst, 45, of Hagerstown, said Gore "did as best as he can do in that spot."

"For the person who has to concede, to say they're wrong ... it's very, very human, very, very difficult," said Ellen Albert of Hagerstown, who turns 52 next week.

She said she and many other people with disabilities are turned off by Bush's politics and she doesn't want him appointing Supreme Court justices. "But I thought he was very gracious and I liked his comment about unification."

Dave Whalen, 42, of Martinsburg, complimented Gore on his remarks. "I'm glad he did it. And I think Bush did the right thing, too. They should have done it sooner."

But Whalen was critical of how long Gore was able to draw out the ballot counts and recounts.

"I think what I came away with was if you get the right attorney, you can still make a play for it," he said.

"I thought they both did well," said Lindsey Keefer, 60, of Mercersburg, Pa., who said "It's time to unite the country and go forward."

Dolly Heinbaugh, 76, of Montgomery Township, Pa., called Gore's comments "very nice compared to how he has been in the past."

"I was for Bush," Heinbaugh continued, "but I thought Gore took it well. I wish the best for him and his family. I didn't vote for him, but I can't help but pity him."

"He wasn't bitter and I don't think he could have said it better," said Charles R. Miller, 65, of Shady Grove, Pa. "He left a few hints that he might be back next year when he said he would continue to work for those in need."

"He said what he had to say to bring us together," said Penrose Bowers, 85, of Mercersburg. "So did Bush."

Gerald Egger, 63, of Smithsburg, also expressed satisfaction with both speeches. He agreed Gore "did what was best for the country" by conceding when he did.

But "every time I look at Gore, he looks phony to me," Egger added.

"I think Gore is a fraud and he should have conceded weeks ago and the Democrats have been stealing elections for years," said Nina Andree, 67, of Hagerstown. She said she thought Gore spoke well, though, considering his position.

Andree described herself as a Pat Buchanan supporter who dislikes Bush's philosophies about free trade and open borders. "But I wish him well," she said.

Sondra Mailey, 54, of Waynesboro, Pa., thought Gore was just putting on an act Wednesday. "He put up a good front, but he had a smirk on his face the whole time. He's just waiting for the next four years to run again. He wants to be president so bad he can taste it. It had to be a letdown."

She was equally cutting about Bush. "He's just a pretty boy who has to ask mommy and daddy for approval. But he may come through. After all, his daddy was a good president."

"I'm kind of in the middle," said Frank Miller, 24, of Hagerstown. "I voted for Bush, but I liked some of Gore's ideas." In the end, Bush's charisma appealed to him, he said.

Miller said he thought the end of Gore's speech, where he mentioned the benefits of a hard-fought loss, was odd. "He seemed kind of happy to be conceding."

Tuesday's planned meeting between Gore and Bush should be more interesting than either speech was, Miller said. "That's more what people are waiting to see."

Susan Creel, 38, of Hagerstown, wondered why Bush's two children didn't stand near him during his speech the way Gore's children did. "I've never seen his children throughout this," she said.

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