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Byrd speaks at fund-raiser

October 28, 2002|by ANDREW SCHOTZ

andrews@herald-mail.com

As he trumpeted Democratic Congressional candidate Jim Humphreys at a fund-raiser Friday, U.S. Sen. Robert C. Byrd took ample time to blow his own horn, too.

Byrd recalled his successful fight to save the West Virginia Air National Guard's 167th Airlift Wing from extinction in Berkeley County in 1968.

"You looking for Big Daddy? You're looking at him," he said.

The 100 or so who attended the Berkeley County Democratic dinner at Orchard View Intermediate School agreed, cheering heartily after many of Byrd's comments.

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The dinner, which also featured speeches by Gov. Bob Wise and political consultant Peter Fenn, served as a Democratic rally for the Nov. 5 election.

Humphreys, the beneficiary of the $35-per-ticket event, did not appear.

Byrd, D-W.Va., mixed fire-breathing inspiration and whimsical charm in his speech.

"The people of Berkeley County have always had four friends - God Almighty, Sears Roebuck, Carter's Little Liver Pills and Robert C. Byrd!" he called out.

The Democrats are hoping to whip up late support for Humphreys, who is locked in a tight race for Congress with Republican incumbent Shelley Moore Capito.

Capito defeated Humphreys for the seat two years ago. Wise, a Democrat, left the seat to become governor.

Wise used his time at the podium Friday to speak of his own achievements and to urge voters to pass an economic development ballot initiative.

When he was through, he turned and reverentially addressed Byrd: "Senator, the reason I'm proud to be a Democrat is because you are a Democrat."

Byrd has served in the Senate since 1959.

In a speech in which he frequently veered off onto tangents, as he is known to do, Byrd touched on a variety of topics - from how, as a youngster, he wooed his future wife "with another boy's bubble gum" to his dim view of the Bush administration.

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