Bush Aims to Mobilize 'Values' Voters

The Associated Press
Saturday, November 4, 2006; 11:07 PM

GREELEY, Colo. -- President Bush encouraged voters to select candidates who will lower taxes and defend "traditional values" as he kicked off the final campaign weekend in a state where gay marriage dominates the political debate.

Colorado voters face a pair of choices Tuesday that affect the rights of gay couples. The issue took on a new intensity last week with the allegations that a prominent Colorado Springs minister who criticized gay marriage secretly paid for sex with a man for years.

Meanwhile, Democrat Angie Paccione has used the issue in her attempt to unseat Republican Rep. Marilyn Musgrave _ a leading congressional critic of gay marriage _ in rural Colorado's 4th District. No Democrat has won the district in more than 30 years, but Paccione is putting up such a challenge that Bush came to town to try and give Musgrave a boost three days before the Election Day.

"She has worked to prevent the institution of marriage from being redefined by activist judges," Bush said to thousands rallying for the GOP at a cavernous event center. "She understands your values, and that's another reason to send her back to the United States Congress."

Outside, Musgrave's critics drove a truck mounted with a billboard that criticized the Republican position on gay marriage and its plan in the war on terror: "Stop gay marriage now, so Osama doesn't get away."

Bush ridiculed Democrats and pundits who have already predicted that Republicans will lose control of at least one chamber of Congress Tuesday.

"I want to remind them, the folks of Colorado haven't even voted yet," Bush said. "With your help, we will hold the House, Marilyn will win, and we will control the United States Senate."

But White House aides acknowledged privately that they are already planning for likelihood that Democrats will take control of the House. They still held out hope that the Senate would keep a GOP majority.

Paccione accuses Musgrave of being a single-minded devotee of banning gay marriage through an amendment to the U.S. Constitution. The Democratic challenger ridiculed the incumbent's statement to a conservative Christian group this fall that gay marriage was the most important issue facing Americans.

Paccione said a gay marriage amendment would be an "abomination" and should not trump the Iraq war, the economy, health care and other issues.

The gay marriage issue has given Republicans a distraction from the problems in Iraq that can help motivate conservative voters.

Bush has been speaking out against gay marriage since the New Jersey Supreme Court ruled Oct. 25 that same-sex couples must be given the same rights as married people. That part of Bush's speech often draws the most applause from voters who have come to see him recently at the rallies across rural America.

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