- The Washington Times - Wednesday, December 4, 2002

SHREVEPORT, La. President Bush exhorted voters yesterday to elect Republican Suzanne Haik Terrell in Saturday's Senate runoff election because she would help him appoint conservative judges.
"We don't want our judges legislating; we want our judges interpreting the Constitution," Mr. Bush told 8,000 giddy supporters at a rally here. "Those are the kind of judges I'll name, and I can count on Suzie's vote to make sure they get confirmed."
A defeat of Sen. Mary L. Landrieu by Mrs. Terrell would pad Republicans' advantage over Democrats in the Senate to 52 to 47 and give Mr. Bush a cushion of support when nominating conservative judges. The White House is worried that some liberal Republicans might balk at the president's more conservative judicial nominees.
"Every vote counts," White House Press Secretary Ari Fleischer told reporters aboard Air Force One. "Many of the votes in the Senate, particularly on some of the most important matters come down to crucial one votes.
"And the difference between Suzie Terrell and Mary Landrieu could be crucial on many of these matters, particularly involving the appointment of judges," he said.
A new poll by the University of New Orleans showed the Louisiana Senate race in a dead heat, with 44 percent saying they would vote for Mrs. Landrieu and 43 percent saying they would vote for Mrs. Terrell. The poll, which had a margin of error of 3.7 percent, also showed that 13 percent of voters were undecided. Expectations are for a turnout of about 40 percent; the election comes on the last day of duck-hunting season and the first day of hunting deer with dogs, ample temptation to pass up voting in a state whose auto license tags boast that it is the "Sportsman's Paradise."
The poll was released the day before the visit by the president, who was able to give numerous candidates a boost last month by stumping for them in the closing days of the midterm elections. Democratic strategists fret that the president's visit to Louisiana less than 100 hours before polls open will give Mrs. Terrell momentum down the home stretch.
Mr. Bush, who enjoys higher approval ratings than any other modern president after two years in office, used his popularity to push for voter turnout Saturday. The strategy was effective last month against the Democrats, who have historically been more effective at turning out voters.
"You need, over the next couple of days, to go to your coffee shops, your community centers, and tell the people that you got a good one running for the United States Senate," the president said. "You got somebody who can do the job for all the people of this state.
"She's counting on you," he said. "And I'm counting on you to do everything you can to turn out a big vote and send this good woman to the United States Senate."
Mr. Bush reminded his audience how Democrats blocked his judicial nominees when they controlled the Senate.
"They were playing politics with the judges," he said. "I had named some very fine people from around the country good, honest people and we couldn't get them through because they wanted to play politics."
Since Republicans regained control of the Senate, Mr. Bush has resurrected the nominations of several judges who had been blocked by the Democrats.
"Amazing what an election did," he observed yesterday.
But judicial nominations are not the only issue on which Mrs. Terrell can help Republicans, the president said. He said she could also help him pass an energy bill, make his tax cuts permanent, give free prescription drugs to Medicare recipients, reform schools and protect the United States' security.
But Mr. Bush was careful not to characterize Mrs. Terrell as a rubber stamp for his agenda.
"Oh, I expect there to be independent voices in Washington, D.C., and no question about her, she's an independent voice," he said. "She kind of tells you what's on her mind. But it's an attitude that's important."
Concluding the rally at the Louisiana State Fairgrounds in Shreveport, Mr. Bush barnstormed to New Orleans to raise $1.25 million from Republicans at a $1,000-a-plate lunch. Mindful of his ability to win over independent and even Democratic voters, the president struck a nonpartisan tone.
"I don't care whether you're Republican or Democrat, or don't give a hoot about a political party you've got an obligation in this country to vote," he said.
"Gather up your buddies and get them to vote," he said. "Man the phones and put up the signs and grab people by the wrists and say, 'You owe it to Louisiana to vote for Suzie Terrell.'"
Prior to yesterday, Mr. Bush had not been to Shreveport since September 11, 2001, when he hurried to nearby Barksdale Air Force Base after learning of the terrorist attacks while in Sarasota, Fla.
"I thank the men and women who wore our uniform then at Barksdale," he told the crowd at the Louisiana State Fairgrounds. "September the 11th delivered a chilling message to our country, and that is: Oceans no longer protect us.
"And therefore it is my obligation to make sure that we address gathering threats overseas before they could do harm to the American people," he said. "And that's why I elevated the issue of Iraq."
As U.N. officials began their second week of weapons inspections, Mr. Bush scoffed at assertions by Saddam Hussein that he has no weapons of mass destruction.
"He's got them." the president said. "He's not only got them, he's used them. And he's not only used them in his neighborhood, he's used them on his own people."
With Saddam facing a Sunday deadline to disclose his chemical-, biological- and nuclear-weapons programs, Mr. Bush emphasized that inspections alone will not guarantee Iraqi compliance.
"I want to tell you, the issue is not the inspectors. The issue is whether or not Mr. Saddam Hussein will disarm like he said he would. We're not interested in hide-and-seek inside Iraq. The fundamental question is, in the name of peace, in the name of security, not only for America and the American people, in the name of security for our friends in the neighborhood, in the name of freedom, will this man disarm? The choice is his."

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