Bush Campaigns for GOP in Rural Georgia

By NEDRA PICKLER
The Associated Press
Tuesday, October 31, 2006; 7:25 PM

PERRY, Ga. -- President Bush on Tuesday spent a second day in a row campaigning in rural Georgia, targeting a shrinking slice of America where Republicans think he still can help their election cause.

Bush is spending the final days of the midterm campaign in small town venues, where White House officials hope he can inspire people to vote GOP next Tuesday.

He didn't fill the arena at the Georgia National Fairgrounds _ plenty of seats were empty in the back along with nearly half of the vast floor space. But the thousands who came out for the Halloween night rally were enthusiastic, applauding his call for tax cuts and against gay marriage.

"We don't want Washington Democrats running the House of Representatives," Bush said from a stage decorated with hay bales, pumpkins and a billboard-size American flag.

Bush promoted Republican congressional candidate Mac Collins in his bid to oust incumbent Democratic Rep. Jim Marshall. Collins also whipped up the crowd by portraying Democrats _ and their House leader, California Rep. Nancy Pelosi _ as out of touch with Georgia.

"Ms. Pelosi, we don't agree with your San Francisco West Coast ideas and values," Collins cried in a loud southern drawl.

Bush was just 130 miles away Monday and delivered a similar speech aimed at boosting former GOP Rep. Max Burns' effort to unseat another Democratic incumbent. He added a new section Tuesday to criticize an old nemesis _ 2004 Democratic presidential nominee John Kerry. Bush said Kerry should apologize for saying students who don't study hard could get "stuck in Iraq." Kerry retorted that Bush is the one who should apologize for misleading the U.S. into war in Iraq.

"Just seems like I was here yesterday," Bush joked as he took the stage in Perry. "I must have Georgia on my mind."

Bush's motorcade route to the fairgrounds passed sparse homes and businesses, most with people standing outside to watch him whiz past under a setting sun. The viewers included a worker outside a Frito Lay plant dressed as Fred Flintstone and another in a kimono, along with a little girl wearing a sparkly fairy costume with trick-or-treat time fast approaching.

On the way back to Robins Air Force Base for return to Washington, Bush stopped at base housing to pass out boxes of M&Ms with the presidential seal to a long line of little witches, princesses and goblins.

The president plans to take Wednesday off from the campaign trail, then hit the road Thursday for a final push that won't end until Election Day. That swing begins with stops in Montana and Nevada on Thursday, then continues to Missouri and Iowa on Friday.

"He's going to places where he can make a difference," said White House press secretary Tony Snow.

Bush also reached out to conservatives across the country with a series of media interviews. He sat with conservative columnists and conservative Fox News Channel host Sean Hannity, then on Wednesday planned to be interviewed by conservative radio host Rush Limbaugh.

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