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Opinions are mixed on Bush's proposals

January 30, 2003|by TARA REILLY

tarar@herald-mail.com

President Bush sold some Tri-State area residents on a possible attack on Iraq, but others said Wednesday they thought the president's State of the Union address was weak and didn't provide enough details on why a war might be necessary.

Some said they weren't convinced Bush outlined in his Tuesday night speech a solid plan to boost the nation's slumping economy.

"I don't like it at all," Wayne Drake of Hagerstown said of a possible war with Iraq. "It's all about oil."

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Drake, 72, said North Korea is a nuclear threat and that the United States should focus on that country.

He said he also disagreed with Bush's tax-cut plan because "tax cuts are for rich people."

"The president said what I wanted to hear," said Kim Travis, 36, of Marion, Pa., a mother of six who homeschools her children. "I love President Bush. Everything he says makes me happy. He's strong on foreign policy and I agree with his domestic issues and tax reform to give people more control of their money."

Jason Klewe, 23, said Bush's comments regarding Iraq were "very passionate, very intense," but it was another portion of the speech that most interested him: The president's advocacy of hydrogen-powered cars.

Not only do such automobiles offer environmental benefits, they are economical as well, said Klewe, a Shepherd College student from Charles Town, W.Va.

"It will greatly impact OPEC's control over this country," Klewe said. "It will take away that huge need for crude oil."

"That's what struck me as the most refreshing thing," Klewe said. "Everything else was just typical domestic policy."

Calvin Moore, 43, of Hagerstown, said he favors a war with Iraq and thinks it should happen sooner or later.

"I thought it was pretty good," Moore said of Bush's speech.

Lashon Monroe of Hagerstown, however, doesn't support a war and didn't like Bush's address.

"There was a lot of stuff I didn't agree with, but it was mainly about the war," Monroe, 38, said.

Sue Higashihama, 45, of Martinsburg, W.Va., deflected what she believed to be unfair criticism of Bush.

"A lot of people try to pick apart everything that he says," she said. "I think what he's doing is the right thing to do."

Higashihama said Bush couldn't reveal some information because citizens of unfriendly countries listened to the speech as well as U.S. residents.

"He has to be careful about our national security," Higashihama said. "I have great confidence in our president."

Nancy Grove, 62, of Waynesboro, Pa., said Bush's State of the Union address had no surprises.

"He said everything I expected him to say. I hope the tax cuts he's proposing will do what he says they will do, but I'm dubious."

Stacy Zerrlaut, 21, said she does not favor war, but she appreciated Bush's forthrightness.

"People had a right to know," Zerrlaut said, referring to Bush's statement that Saddam Hussein seeks to "dominate, intimidate or attack" with weapons of mass destruction that he could share with terrorist allies.

Zerrlaut said she wishes Bush had released such information sooner.

"If we have to go to war, he's a good person to conduct it," said Zerrlaut, of Inwood, W.Va.

"I would be apprehensive of sending American youth to a war in Iraq," said Ernie Brockman, 62, of Waynesboro, Pa. "After that speech I hope (Secretary of State Colin) Powell can make the case to justify why we should do this. If indeed Saddam has the means to devastate our country with those weapons of war then he needs to be stopped."

Kathie Martz said she initially liked Bush's speech, but started to reconsider after listening to analysis of it on talk radio shows.

"I think that he probably meant it, but meaning it and going through with it are different things," said Martz, 51, of Inwood.

Martz said she wonders whether Bush will follow through with his plans for more affordable prescription drugs and tax cuts.

"Look how many times we've heard it before," she said.

Martz said she wants to hear Colin Powell's thoughts on the possibility of war with Iraq.

"Nobody likes war, but if it's for the right reasons ..." she said, her voice trailing off. "But what are the right reasons?"

Ted Weaver of Hagerstown said he was a diehard Republican and supported Bush's overall address.

"The most important thing was to stand up to the other country - Iraq," Weaver, 48, said. "I think that that's a mission that needs to be dealt with. I think that's for the better of the world."

Weaver said he was a bit skeptical about whether Bush's tax cut plan would work and said he thought the president should create a stronger plan to boost the economy. One way to do that would be to make federal funding easily available to anyone trying to start a business.

"There is no easy way to getting any of the grant money to create new businesses," Weaver said.

"I'm hoping he's able to come up with more jobs for those of us who are looking for something," Melinda Kinnamont, 35, of Hagerstown, said of Bush's economic plan.

Fayetteville, Pa., resident Martin Lum, 62, said Bush's attitude scares him.

"He's not smooth. He's unsettled," Lum said. "I'm afraid he'll unwind our European alliance that we utilized in Desert Storm in 1991."

Joe Hart, 82, of Hagerstown, said he agreed with Bush on a possible war with Iraq.

"I would rather hit them before they hit us," Hart said.

Michael Gilroy of State Line, Pa., said he thought an attack on Iraq would be best for the country.

"I wish they would go ahead and get it over with," Gilroy, 46, said. "It's going to happen anyway."

He said an American war with Iraq would help keep Israel safe.

"Saddam Hussein is going to use weapons of mass destruction eventually against Israel," Gilroy said.

Staff writers Candice Bosely and Richard F. Belisle contributed to this story.

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