In the Spotlight

News & Features
Bush Mines Votes in Fargo
By Dan Gunderson
October 28, 1999
Click for audio RealAudio 3.0

Republican Presidential candidate George W. Bush outlined his views on agriculture policy and other issues during a campaign stop in Fargo. Bush was greeted by enthusiastic, mostly Republican crowds, at two public appearances, and picked up an endorsement from North Dakota Governor Ed Schafer.

For More Information
See MPR Online's Campaign 2000 section.
THE TEXAS GOVERNOR appeared first at a $20-a-plate breakfast sponsored by the Greater North Dakota Association, a business group. Bush worked the room for nearly 45 minutes before heading to the podium, trying to get to all of the nearly 1,000.
Bush: You're going to make Minnesota vote republican this year?
In his speech Bush promised a positive campaign and a principled presidency.
Bush: I'll be an activist president who sets a positive tone, an optimistic tone. I'll set goals worthy of a great nation, and I will not use my office as a mirror to reflect public opinion.
The Republican presidential front-runner laid out several priorities. Among them: a smaller, more efficient government; a new level of personal responsibility and compassion for the less fortunate; protecting Social Security fund.

Some of the loudest applause came when Bush talked about the importance of free trade, he promised agriculture would not be left out of trade negotiations in a Bush administration. The Texas governor says he supports the Republican Freedom to Farm Act although he says it needs some tinkering, and he says farm policy debate should be elevated.
Bush: I do not believe we should treat agriculture as a stepchild when it comes to domestic policy. I understand the importance of agriculture in the American society. I understand its hopes for the world and I intend to keep agriculture in the forefront of my mind when I become your president.
Bush also talked about improving the country's education system.
Bush: It's important to remember failed schools create two societies, one that can read and one that can't, one that dreams and one that doesn't. I believe these are burdens on the conscience of our incredibly successful nation. And the next president must work endlessly to close the gap of hope.
Bush says he also wants to reform the legal system and reduce government regulation so small businesses have more opportunity to grow and prosper.Bush touted his successes as governor of Texas. He pointed to one of the largest tax rebates in state history, and took a thinly-veiled jab at Democratic vice president and presidential candidate Al Gore.
Bush: I hope you understand prosperity is not a given; it just doesn't happen. In all due respect to some of the elected officials in the executive branch, if you listen, it sounds like they think they invented prosperity. They no more invented prosperity than they invented the Internet.
After finishing his speech, it was back to working the friendly, crowd. Then off to another rally before flying back to Texas.

Many in the crowd said they were excited by Bush. One called him "his father with personality".

At least one observer admitted to not being a Republican. Tony Bernhardt manages a Farmers' Union gas station in Rugby, North Dakota, and was in town for a company convention. But he says what he heard from George W. Bush impressed him.
Bernhardt: I view myself as an independent and as far as I'm concerned, as of right now George Bush has my support for the ideals that he is. I guess I feel he's the man for the job.
North Dakota Party leaders are hoping the Bush visit, even at this early stage of the campaign, will rally the troops and help build support for Republican candidates for governor and Congress.