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Dissenters Have Their Say at Pasco Rally

by Mike Lee, Herald staff writer
Tri-City Herald, November 4, 2000

Republican faithful weren't the only ones who turned out for the big GOP shindig Friday night.

"We're the Paul Reveres of the 21st century," said Democratic Texas Rep. Lon Burnam of Fort Worth. "We've come to warn America that Bush is coming."

The rally attracted a handful of opposing interests, from Ralph Nader's Green Party raiders to a lone American Heritage Party hopeful from Walla Walla.

Whitman College students who support breaching the four lower Snake River dams also braved the pro-dam rally, along with a few Gore-Lieberman backers with placards plastered on their car windows.

Even Arizona Sen. John McCain, long-lost contestant for the Republican nomination, had a supporter with a huge "End the pain, elect McCain" sign.

And there was Stephanie Post, 16, a Kennewick High School student collecting dozens of campaign stickers. "I am a Democrat," she said. "This is for extra credit."

Jim Timmons of West Richland came to check out the candidates but agreed with few of them. "It's not all that big of a rally," said Timmons, who works with Washington Conservation Voters. "It's not the spectacular turnout I was thinking. There is a lot of space in there."

Of course, there were plenty of Republican backers, too -- about 1,200 of them clapping and stomping their feet on the metal bleachers.

Bruce Hahn of Omak, for instance, spent hours on a bus sponsored by the Farm Bureau to get to Pasco. "It's enthusiastic," he said of the rally. "But I'd like to see more. We've got to get a Republican victory here."

And there was Bob Koenig of Pasco, who tries not to miss GOP rallies, though he was hoping for a special appearance by former President George Bush, who, rumors claimed, would be stumping for his son in Pasco.

Koenig rated the rally "about average" but remained confident Bush would defeat Al Gore on Tuesday. "He'll win by a landslide. I think all of those polls are Eastern polls and big-city polls," he said. "They are very misleading."

Burnam, part of the Texas Truth Squad, contends George W. Bush is misleading. He is dogging Bush's Washington campaign to convince voters the Texas governor isn't all he claims to be.

"Behind all the glitz, there is a record, and the record is dismal," Burnam said, citing alleged Bush failures in education, health care for children and the environment. "The Texaco ticket will run the country the same way they have run Texas -- of, by and for special interests."

Seth Williams, a Spokane-area farmer, didn't seem any more impressed by the dam-backing rally. He called it Republican fear mongering over water rights that misrepresents the true voice of Eastern Washington.

Outside the arena -- where smoke from a barbecued hamburger vendor mixed with the aroma of kettle corn -- the disenchanted mingled and talked in the cold.

Among them was Val Gallagher of Richland, who said the Republican agenda didn't do enough for salmon. "This is one of the only events where I have wanted to speak out, but I have been fearful," she said. "It seems like an aggressive group."

Also outside was a small group of Green Party supporters, who marched out of the arena after being asked by police not to disrupt the proceedings. "They decided to bring it out here to get their point across," said Franklin County sheriff's Deputy John Spier.

Mike Lee
Dissenters Have Their Say at Pasco Rally
Tri-City Herald, November 4, 2000

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