Wednesday, June 21, 2000

GOP has hopes for Bush's visit

Deters says Catholic vote key to winning

By Howard Wilkinson
The Cincinnati Enquirer

        When Republican presidential candidate George W. Bush comes to Cincinnati a month from today to raise campaign dollars, GOP leaders here are hoping they can nudge him across Interstate 75 for a visit to the city's west side.

        “That's where the Republican voters are,” said Ohio Treasurer Joe Deters, who also is chairman of the Hamilton County Republican Party.

        Maybe, Mr. Deters said, “we could take him to a church festival.” Catholic parish church festivals have been prime political stumping grounds for local candidates for decades in Cincinnati.

        There are two going on July 21, the day Mr. Bush will be in Cincinnati — at St. John the Baptist Church in Harrison and St. Simon Church in Delhi Township.

        “The Catholic vote is going to be key in this election,” said Mr. Deters, a west side Catholic him self. “Ronald Reagan took the Catholic vote away from the Democrats in the 1980s; Clinton won it back in the '90s. Now, we have to deliver it for Bush.”

        Getting a high turnout of Catholic Republicans in Cincinnati to offset Democratic Catholic voters in northeast Ohio will be a key to winning Ohio's 21 electoral votes, Mr. Deters said.

        So far, the Bush campaign has no concrete plans for a public campaign event in Cincinnati to go along with the fund-raising event, which will be hosted by two of Mr. Bush's former business partners, Cincinnatians William O. DeWitt Jr. and Mercer Reynolds.

        But recent Bush forays into Ohio have been tandem trips, with the candidate splitting his time between a public issue-oriented event and a private fund-raiser.

        Last August, Mr. Bush came to Cincinnati and visited a storefront church in Evanston before heading to the Omni Netherland Hotel for a $1 million fund-raising event.


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