Bush speaks at Coral Gables fundraiser

President Bush addressed a small crowd of supporters at a fundraiser in Coral Gables last Friday. The cost for admission started at $2,000; some patrons may have paid up to $25,000 to attend the 30-minute speech.

After an introduction by his brother, Florida Gov. Jeb Bush, the President walked to the podium among cheers of “four more years” lasting almost two minutes. He played to the predominantly Hispanic crowd by starting off his speech with, “Vamos a ganar” [We’re going to win].

“We must expand prosperity to all corners of the country so everyone has a chance at the American dream,” the President said, focusing on the economy. He stated that, to ensure prosperity, the tax relief he passed needs to be made permanent. President Bush pointed to the creation of 750,000 new jobs since August, as well as a record high in home ownership rates as proof that the economy is responding to his stimulus plan.

President Bush identified a problem in America depending on foreign nations for energy. He outlined a plan to conserve energy and research new technologies to decrease that dependence, challenging Congress to “get an energy bill on [his] desk immediately.”

President Bush defended his decision to go to Iraq by saying both he and Congress were presented with intelligence, and both deemed Iraq to be a threat to national security.

“My job is to confront problems, not to pass them on to future Presidents,” President Bush said.

He promised to continue the hunt for terrorists, mentioning that more than two thirds of Al-Qaeda’s leadership has been killed or captured; catching the remainder, according to him, “is a matter of time.”

President Bush countered critics that point to international dissent with U.S. decisions regarding the war on terror.

“Let me be very clear – I will never allow the leaders of other nations to determine the national security issues of this country,” President Bush said.

“Not only is America and the world more secure, but little girls in Afghanistan can go to school for the first time ever… and 50 million people are free in Iraq,” President Bush said.

He declared the fight for freedom shouldn’t be isolated to the Middle East; it should also focus on our own backyard. Bush outlined his future policy on Cuba with two words, “Cuba Libre” [Free Cuba], drawing raucous applause and chants of “Viva Bush” from the crowd.

“George W. Bush has been a consistent defender of the principles of liberty, freedom and respect for human rights in both Cuba and Haiti,” U.S. Congresswoman Ileana Ros-Lehtinen told The Hurricane. “His opponent has been all over the board on this issue and has established that he can not be trusted to do what is right for the Cuban and Haitian people.”

Bush ended his speech amidst cheers from the solely Republican crowd. Outside the fundraiser, small groups of protestors were demonstrating and confronted Bush supporters as they exited the event. No major incidents were reported.

Don Donelson can be contacted at d.donelson@umiami.edu.