- The Washington Times - Tuesday, August 6, 2002

PITTSBURGH (AP) President Bush patted one on the back and hugged another, celebrating the nine rescued coal miners as symbols of an American spirit that will lift the nation above terrorist threats and an economic downturn.
"I believe that what took place here in Pennsylvania really represents the best of our country," Mr. Bush said yesterday.
The nine men, whose three-day ordeal trapped in a flooded western Pennsylvania coal mine transfixed the nation, sat to the president's right inside the Green Tree Fire House. Before their against-all-hope rescue, they made a pact to "live or die as a group," shared one meager sandwich and huddled to stay warm.
"It is that spirit that's going to prevail in the big [terrorism] challenges we face around the world," Mr. Bush said.
"It is the determined spirit of America and our optimism and our ability to solve problems, which will help us deal with the economic downturn."
The rescue, just over a week ago at Quecreek Mine in Somerset, Pa., used water pumps to stem the flooding while a small air shaft and larger escape shaft were drilled a demonstration of American "technology and know-how" that the president saluted.
"There are nine lives here to testify that we're some of the best at rescuing our fellow citizens," he said.
The miners some in T-shirts and baseball caps met privately with Mr. Bush backstage and emerged with his autograph scrawled across the White House credentials they wore on strings around their necks. The men hesitated before joining the audience on its feet at Mr. Bush's entrance and, at times, neglected to join in the applause.
Whether it was because they were unaccustomed to presidential appearances or uncomfortable with his politics was impossible to know. White House employees kept the miners away from reporters, saying the TV movie deal they signed last week with the Walt Disney Co., for $150,000 apiece, forbids them from speaking to the news media.

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