Cheney stops in Ames for ISU-Nebraska game

Jocelyn Marcus

Republican vice presidential candidate Dick Cheney made a stop in Ames Saturday to tailgate, watch a Big 12 Conference football matchup and greet enthusiastic political supporters.

Cheney arrived in Ames around noon Saturday, accompanied by Iowa Sen. Charles Grassley and former Wyoming Sen. Alan Simpson, secret service agents, media and enthusiastic fans.

ISU students mobbed the Republican, chanting “Bush, Cheney” and holding homemade signs with slogans such as, “Cyclones 4 Bush,” “Al who?” and “I.S.U. women T Dick,” in addition to the pre-printed blue-and-white Bush-Cheney signs.

Jim Kurtenbach, chairman of the Story County Republicans, said he doesn’t think there was a specific reason Cheney came to the football game.

“This is just one of the venues he chose to visit people at,” he said, adding that Cheney also rallied in Des Moines and Waterloo this weekend. “I know he wanted to have as much contact as he could, one-on-one, with Iowans, to try to get out the Bush-Cheney message.

“The Iowa State University-Nebraska game, tailgating, was a way for him to bring his message directly to the people of Iowa.”

Cynthia Schoenfeld, president of Students for Bush, organized the tailgate. She said at least 30 or 40 people came out just to demonstrate support for the vice presidential candidate.

“He was just here to really enjoy himself and meet the people and shake hands with those people who were his supporters,” said Schoenfeld, senior in political science.

Cheney was able to attend the first quarter of the Cyclone-Cornhusker game before he left for Wyoming. Kurtenbach said Cheney enjoyed what he saw of the game.

“The reception we received was overwhelmingly warm and positive from all Iowa State and Nebraska fans,” he said. “He spent a lot of time watching the game and chatting with the crowd.”

Cheney kept football a nonpartisan issue, remaining neutral on which team he was rooting for, though he admitted, “That’s a tough one. I was born in Nebraska.”

Cheney explained some of his policies to reporters before the game.

In stark contrast to last week’s polite debate, Cheney spoke vehemently against the Clinton-Gore administration, chiding it for “squandered opportunities” and “a failure to perform.”

“I’m perfectly happy to point out what I think are the weaknesses on the other side’s positions on the issues,” he said. “[It has] a track record, I think, of a failure to perform over the last eight years on things like the military, education, Social Security, Medicare.”

Cheney said family issues are off-limits when asked whether his openly gay daughter, Mary, influences his stance on gay rights and same-sex marriages.

“I’m the candidate, and my kids are entitled to privacy,” he said. “People ought to be free to enter into whatever kind of relationship they want to enter into. Whether these relationships are officially sanctioned is a matter that should be left to the states.”

While Gore is proposing a tuition tax credit on up to $10,000, Cheney said the Bush plan also will help college students and their families pay for college.

“We’re looking to expand the Pell Grant program and change the education savings account so families can save up to $5,000 tax-free,” he said.

Cutting taxes will also help ease the burden of paying for education, he said. Cheney said the average family can expect a $1,600 tax break under the Bush plan, while the Gore plan excludes certain categories of taxpayers.

“The Gore plan leaves 50 million taxpayers out,” he said.

Cheney said he and Bush will continue to work hard to get their message out.

“We’re out there aggressively every day working the issues,” he said.

He said he has high hopes for taking Iowa’s seven electoral votes.

“Iowa is a swing state,” Cheney said. “It’s one of a handful of states that will decide the election, and we hope to win it.”