On Friday, Oct. 15, I witnessed President Bush deliver his speech to an encouraging and enthusiastic crowd of 10,000 Wisconsinites in Oshkosh at EAA Airport in Wittman Field. Afterward, I also had the opportunity to see his running mate, Senator Kerry, here at Lawrence. It is a rare chance to be able to see both candidates live and compare the two.The president was articulate and well spoken. He presented the audience with his previous accomplishments and future plans, if he makes it into office next term. Bush began his address by acknowledging that the debates “give us a chance to show the difference between my opponent and myself.” He promised “to continue to defend the American people and spread freedom – it is not an American right but a God- given right.”
During the live debates Bush would often suddenly pause or look confused and flabbergasted by Kerry’s rebuttals.
At the address on Friday, however, his voice was strong, powerful, and confident. He outlined his speech with convincing statistics supporting his claims. He addressed Wisconsin citizens’ concerns about the economy and education, and also provided future plans: “I will stand behind dairy farmers, that is why I signed a good farm bill. I want to sell Wisconsin products around the world and make sure America is the best place in the world to do business.” The supporters kept chanting “Four more years!”
Earlier on Friday, Bush had already visited Oregon and Iowa. He has no intention of slowing down; this is a close race. After delivering his speech, Bush stayed behind for a few moments to autograph signs and shake hands with supporters.
Also vying for the swing state of Wisconsin, Kerry arrived in Appleton later that evening. Despite the cold, rainy weather, nearly 10,000 supporters came to root for the candidate, shouting, in reference to his opponent, “No more years!” Dressed casually, the senator appealed to the middle class. Kerry easily connected with the audience and opted to speak with a handheld microphone, informally speaking with his supporters and not stiffly standing in front of a podium.
Kerry appeared cheerful, comfortable, and eager to make the necessary changes to improve America. He spoke on health care, employment, and the economy. Kerry promised to close a loophole that rewards American corporations who send work overseas. Concerning healthcare, he promised to make it more affordable for the middle class. Kerry said that “182,000 people have lost their health care in the last four years … the bottom line is this: the economy has a bad case of the flu and we need a new medicine.”
Interestingly, both politicians act differently in front of a camera than they do in person; in real life, they seemed to switch roles with one another. During the live broadcasts, Kerry was stiff and dignified; on Friday he was calm and personable. Conversely, in person Bush was limber and professional, in contrast to his bumbling, cavalier attitude during televised debates.
All politics aside, it is often easy to see which candidate will win. Speech delivery and appearance are quite important, especially in such a close race. Bush is forthright, determined, and proud. Kerry is polished, charismatic, and eloquent. Which would you choose?