- The Washington Times - Monday, January 23, 2006

President Bush’s State of the Union address next Tuesday is more than a political update to the nation. It’s party time.

For both parties.

Forget about the hubbub of Super Bowl Sunday. Both Republicans and Democrats want to party hearty in the name of the speech. The Republican National Committee (RNC) and Democratic National Committee (DNC) are urging loyalists to gather together and cheer — or hiss as the case may be — as Mr. Bush delivers the address on nationwide television at 9 p.m.

Partisan revelers are eager. The Republican Party has more than 900 parties scheduled nationwide, according to spokeswoman Tracey Schmitt, who yesterday categorized the gatherings as “an invaluable tool” to bolster grass-roots support. The DNC, meanwhile, also divulged that hundreds of parties are in the offing “from Anchorage to Wichita to Brooklyn.”

These soirees differ in tone.

“You shouldn’t have to watch it alone … and now you won’t have to,” noted a DNC message to supporters.

“There’s still time to invite people over to watch together, react together, and — most importantly — decide together what you will do to work for change on the ground in your community this year,” DNC Executive Director Tom McMahon said yesterday.

“We’re going to watch the speech, talk about it. There may be some yelling going on,” noted Charles Gourley, who organized the Union is Waiting Party for the 45-member Fulton-Franklin Counties Democratic Club just west of Gettysburg, Pa.

“It’s still a party, though,” Mr. Gourley added. “We’ll try to keep it informal, lighthearted. And yes, we’re having refreshments.” Guests at the Virginia Grassroots Coalition party, to be held at Capitol City Brewing in Arlington, have been instructed by organizer Elaine O’Malley to “bring your thirst for change and a hunger for impeachment.”

Republican party animals, meanwhile, can order the official RNC Party Pack, which includes stadium-style cups, bumper stickers and lapel pins emblazoned with a “W, Then & Now” logo. And, of course, there’s the all-important yard sign bearing the motto “Stand with President Bush.” The kits cost $20 to $60.

Both parties are using electronic organizers to rally their troops online with free invitations and response notices indexed according to ZIP codes — similar to the local “meet-up” gatherings for Bush and Kerry supporters during the 2004 presidential election.

Republicans are treading carefully, keeping an eye on the McCain-Feingold campaign-finance reform law.

“To comply with federal law, GOP House Parties hosted at a person’s home must be paid for by the person hosting the event and the person cannot spend more than a total of $2,000 on in-home GOP House Parties,” the RNC sternly specifies.

Parties or not, Mr. Bush’s speech typically draws a healthy broadcast audience; there were 38 million TV viewers last year.

LOAD COMMENTS ()

 

Click to Read More

Click to Hide