Asbury Park Press

Citizen Group Irked; Feelings Mixed On Bush Visit To N.J.

Attends GOP fundraiser today in Edison

Asbury Park Press — Wednesday, May 30, 2007

BY ERICA HARBATKIN
GANNETT NEW JERSEY

EDISON — President Bush will be coming here today, and New Jersey residents on both sides of the aisle have been diligently preparing for his arrival.

On the GOP side, the Republican State Committee has organized the fundraiser and sold tickets for $300 each and photo opportunities with the president for $5,000 each. Various Democratic organizations, meanwhile, have come together to organize protests near the New Jersey Convention and Exposition Center, where the event will be held.

Before President Bush speaks to the crowd of supporters, a group of Democratic organizations will greet passers-by with an event of their own – a demonstration from the parking lot next to the Holiday Inn and Harold's Deli on King Georges Post Road.

"The president coming to New Jersey is really a slap in the face, we feel, to the vast sentiment among most New Jerseyans," said Eve Weissman, an organizer for New Jersey Citizen Action, one of the primary groups involved in the event. "New Jerseyans really feel that the Bush agenda is not in sync with the values of New Jersey working families. . . . And we really want to call attention to the fact that New Jerseyans are really upset with the current state of affairs in Iraq."

Rep. Frank J. Pallone Jr., D-N.J., state Sen. Barbara Buono, D-Middlesex, and state Assemblyman Joseph Cryan, D-Union, will speak at the rally. The demonstration will involve Americans Against Escalation in Iraq, the New Jersey Democratic State Committee, the Teamsters Union, Democracy for America, the New Jersey Stonewall Democrats and the New Jersey Impeach Group. Speeches will be given from 3 to 4 p.m.

While no official counterprotests have been planned by Republican groups, a post on www.freerepublic.com, a conservative news site, call for Bush administration supporters to "counterprotest the dimwits."

And while the sentiment among the left may be negative, one of those volunteers, Jamie Saults of Freehold, said there's plenty of excitement throughout the area.

"The people that I talked to are really excited to have the president come to New Jersey. (It) is great and to be able to possibly meet him is fabulous," Saults said.

Republican State Committee Chairman Tom Wilson, state Sen. Leonard Lance, R-Hunter-don/Warren, Assemblyman Alex DeCroce, R-Morris, and the Republican county chairmen will also attend the event.

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