George W. Bush opens his stump speeches here with an anecdote about his failed bid for Congress from Texas in 1978 when he finished "second in a two-person race."
Bush says that after that race a voter came up to him "George W., I didn't vote for you." Bush says he asked the woman why. And as he tells it, she responded "Because you didn't bother to ask for the vote." Bush pauses for the applause and then adds "So I'm here today to ask for your vote."
Bush is on his longest swing yet through Iowa, where he will be through Monday's caucus. Although he is ahead in the polls, Bush has been telling people he is worried about Monday's contest. Caucuses typically have even lower turnout than primaries. In this case, only about 1 in 10 Iowa voters is expected to participate.
That makes energizing base support particularly critical. Bush's campaign carries with it an air of celebrity that most other candidates don't have and many people show up just to get a look, an autograph or a picture.
Many of the people in Bush's large crowds this week have said that while they support him, they have no plans to vote on Monday. "Although he's very encouraged about his support here, he's also very worried about people not coming out to the caucuses," said Mindy Tucker, a Bush campaign spokeswoman. "He's trying to get people to understand no matter what the pollsters say, they've got to come out to vote."
In recent days, some of Bush's rivals have been trying to whip up their supporters by branding Bush as soft on abortion. Both Steve Forbes and Gary Bauer harshly criticized Bush at events last night for what they believe to believe Bush's evasive attitude at a press conference yesterday on what he would do to end legal abortion.
Bush today will travel to four towns, Colfax, Grinnell, Marshalltown and Kanesville, trying to try to energize voters. This morning, Bush attended an event today in Colfax at Teen Challenge of the Midlands, a faith-based rehabilitation home for young substance abusers. Bush sat on a panel with several men who spoke of how their lives changed through Teen Challenge's approach. Bush called the program a model of the types of programs he would promote as president.
"The question government should ask is `Does it work?' " Bush said. "If it works, a society ought to say `Thank you.' Government should not frustrate or be worried about the Teen Challenges."
Later, during a tour through the facility's chapel, Bush said "I'm on a walk, just like you. I'm on a walk. It's a never-ending walk as far as I'm concerned," adding moments later "I used to drink too much and I quit drinking."