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Lining up for Bush

August 16, 2004|by DON AINES

chambersburg@herald-mail.com

MARTINSBURG, W.VA. - At Republican Victory '04 headquarters on North Queen Street Sunday night, volunteers giving out tickets for President Bush's appearance Tuesday at Hedgesville (W.Va.) High School were staying open to meet the demand.

"Technically, we're supposed to close at 8 p.m., but we're going to keep going," said Mary Diamond, a spokeswoman for the Republican National Committee who was at the headquarters. At 8:30 p.m., she said people still were waiting in a long line for tickets.

The line was long, but fast-moving, according to one Hedgesville woman who picked up four tickets for her family Sunday evening.

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"I didn't have to wait too long, I'd say about five minutes ... I would have waited for hours," Rita Johnson said after getting tickets to the political rally.

Many volunteers were processing ticket requests at the 145 N. Queen St. headquarters in Martinsburg, said Johnson, who also got tickets for her husband, Marty, and sons, Reece and Patrick.

"I'm not sure of the exact number of tickets, but it's in the thousands" Diamond said of the number of tickets given away by Sunday evening. She said demand also was brisk earlier in the day when she was at the Clarion Hotel & Conference Center in Shepherdstown, W.Va., where tickets also were available.

Johnson said her youngest son, Patrick, is "very excited to see the president."

"My husband is retired military. We want to keep our military strong. We think the president is definitely doing the right thing," said Johnson, who has never seen a president in person.

Tickets for the event will be available at the two locations from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. today, according to Tee Rowe, chairman of the Jefferson County Republican Executive Committee.

The rally will be held at the school's football stadium, but Diamond said event organizers had not set any limit on the number of tickets to be given away because it is being held outdoors.

Those picking up the free tickets need a photo identification for themselves, and the names, addresses and phone numbers of the other people for whom they are getting tickets, Diamond said.

Tickets are available to anyone, regardless of party affiliation, she said.

Still cameras are permitted, but video cameras and homemade signs are among the list of prohibited items, according to Diamond.

She said supporters would be holding a sign-making party Sunday night and again tonight at the party headquarters in Martinsburg.

U.S. Rep. Shelley Moore Capito, R.-W.Va., West Virginia GOP gubernatorial candidate Monty Warner and Betty Ireland, the Republican candidate for secretary of state, also are scheduled to speak, Diamond said.

The gates at the stadium will open at 3 p.m. Tuesday and everyone has to be inside by 5 p.m., when the gates will close, according to Diamond. Bush is scheduled to speak at 6:25 p.m., she said.

"Everyone's going to have to get there by bus because there's just not enough parking," Rowe said.

No parking will be permitted at the school for crowd management and security reasons, Diamond said. Those planning to attend are being told to park at the Parcel Direct distribution facility at 850 Caperton Blvd., where they can get buses to the school beginning at 2 p.m.

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