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Opponents mark Bush visit with small protests

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A few protesters gathered beyond shouting distance of the 3M campus in Maplewood. (MPR Photo/Laura McCallum)
As the president spoke in Maplewood, about 100 people protested his policies nearby. The crowd included anti-war activists and supporters of same sex marriage.

St. Paul, Minn. — As President Bush was talking about tax relief and science education, a crowd outside 3M chanted an anti-Bush message.

"Son of a Bush, we know you, your daddy was a killer too," they chanted.

Jen Winston of St. Paul carried a sign that read "Gay rights are not special rights." Winston objects to President Bush's call for a constitutional amendment banning same-sex marriage.

"I think instead of writing hate into our Constitution, we should write acceptance. I think instead of writing that two people can't show their love for each other is not right. I think that anybody who loves each other should have the right to marry," she said.

Winston says she's also opposed to the war in Iraq, but believes she can have a greater impact on domestic issues.

For many other protesters, the war is their top concern. Dave Bicking of Minneapolis says the U.S. needs to pull its troops out of Iraq immediately. He believes most Americans are now opposed to the war. He says protesters need to show Bush that opponents are mobilized.

"A long, long time ago during the Vietnam war, Nixon said one of the things that motivated him to get out of that war is that he could hardly go anyplace in the whole country without practically starting a riot. And you know, that did have an effect. That did have an effect at that time. And we need to make it clear that he is not popular and his policies are not popular," Bicking said.

The president didn't drive past the protesters, and probably never saw them. But the protesters say they're not discouraged, because many people drove past and saw their message.

Dale Howey of Roseville says he tries to mark every Bush visit to Minnesota by protesting outside. Howey, a member of the DFL Veterans Caucus, says he disagrees with Bush's policies on education, the environment and the budget.

"Every speech he's given, he's reneged on everything he's said. The only people he's keeping promises to are his corporate buddies and the Christian right, and the gun lobby. Those are the three main tiers of their support," according to Howey.

A block away from the protesters at a nearby hotel, DFL party officials watched the president's speech on TV. Associate Party Chair Donna Cassutt says Bush talked about making America competitive, but she says it's empty rhetoric.

"To take him seriously about investing in math and science and technology when they're cutting budgets for higher education, it's really hard," she said.

Cassutt says the budget bill awaiting the president's signature cuts funding for student aid, Medicare, Medicaid and child support enforcement. Bush is eager to sign the bill and move on to next year's budget. He plans to release his 2007 budget plan on Monday.

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