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Cheney visit is planned

February 20, 2004|by GREGORY T. SIMMONS

gregs@herald-mail.com

Vice President Richard B. Cheney will make an appearance next week at a fund-raiser in Hagerstown for U.S. Rep. Roscoe Bartlett, Bartlett's campaign manager said Thursday.

Cheney's visit is seen as a major boost for Bartlett, R-6th, who is being challenged by a fellow Republican in the March 2 primary election, Bartlett's campaign manager Sallie B. Taylor said.

"We're doing back flips. Pinch us," Taylor said.

Hagerstown Mayor William M. Breichner said the visit is "flattering."

"I think it's significant. We appreciate Congressman Bartlett bringing the vice president to Hagerstown," Breichner said. "Whenever you have an official of that magnitude coming to your city, it's ... flattering to the community."

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Breichner said he could not remember the last time a vice president visited the city.

The breakfast fund-raiser will be held at the Venice Inn on Dual Highway, with doors opening at 7 a.m., Taylor said. She would not divulge the time Cheney would arrive due to security concerns from the White House.

Cheney will speak on current events, although Taylor said she did not know what topic he will discuss. A White House spokeswoman said the topic would not be released until next week.

Bartlett is running for his seventh term in Congress. He is being challenged in the Republican primary by Frederick County State's Attorney Scott L. Rolle. Seven Democrats and one Green Party candidate also have filed with the Maryland Board of Elections to run for the seat.

Taylor said she believed the GOP primary race for the congressional seat held by Bartlett was a factor in the vice president's decision to come to Hagerstown.

"We've been asking them to come to the district, and this time they said yes," Taylor said. "It helped that we had an active primary. ... That factored into the equation heavily."

She said Cheney's visit will come four days before the primary.

"We couldn't have asked for a more perfect time for the vice president to come to town," Taylor said.

Republicans control the House of Representatives by 23 seats. In an effort to help the GOP retain seats, Cheney recently has made appearances in support of Republican House members in Las Vegas and Chicago, according to news reports.

Cheney also is scheduled to attend fund-raising events later this month for members of Congress in Pennsylvania and Florida.

Because Maryland's voter rolls are heavily Democratic, Republican White House officials do not make a lot of visits to the state, Taylor said. President Bush visited in 2002 in support of former Congresswoman Connie Morella and now-Gov. Robert Ehrlich. He attended a Republican fund-raiser in Baltimore last fall.

Taylor said her office has sent out 7,000 invitations for the event, which has room for about 800 people. General admission tickets are $100 and VIP tickets cost $1,000, Taylor said.

VIP ticket holders will receive a photo taken with the vice president and Bartlett and have a chance to meet in "a more intimate" setting with Cheney and Bartlett before the breakfast, Taylor said.

Breichner said the Hagerstown Police Department will help provide security for the event, although he said Bartlett's staff had not yet provided details.

Breichner said he was not sure how much the visit would cost the city. There likely would be some overtime pay involved, but Breichner said the city would provide "whatever is necessary."

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