Vice President Dick Cheney probably couldn’t have picked a friendlier nonpartisan crowd to talk to than the military veterans invited to his speech today in Mesa.
East Valley veterans who were contacted Wednesday at Veterans of Foreign Wars and American Legion halls generally gave President Bush and Cheney high marks for the way the Republican administration has waged war on terrorism and handled military issues.
"I have absolutely no complaints on what he’s done whatsoever," Ron Carlson of Mesa said of Bush.
Carlson served as a Marine in the Korean War. Contacted at a VFW hall in Apache Junction, Carlson said Bush and Cheney responded well after the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, in securing the homeland and using the military to take the fight to the enemy.
"If I wasn’t as old as I am, if I had to go again, I’d certainly fight for him," Carlson said of Bush.
Bob Campbell, a member of the Chandler VFW and retired Army veteran who served two tours of duty in Vietnam, said the Bush-Cheney team has performed well. He backs the president’s decision to invade Iraq.
Campbell said he does not like the way the Democratic presidential candidates snipe at the president.
"The Democrats are just flogging the president," Campbell said. "I guess it’s easy to do that when you’re not sitting in his chair making those decisions."
Cheney will speak to about 600 veterans at 3:30 p.m. today at the Arizona Wing of the Commemorative Air Force, 2017 N. Greenfield Road.
While his visit to Mesa is considered an official stop, rather than campaign-related, it will be a good opportunity for him to shore up support among a core constituency, said Earl de Berge, a Valley pollster.
Republicans in general, and Bush in particular, tend to do well among veterans, de Berge said. Courting core constituencies like veterans is important to Bush, who remains strong but potentially beatable in Arizona, said de Berge, citing a poll released earlier this week.
"This is not a walk-away in Arizona at all. So Cheney’s probably here because they want to take care of constituencies," de Berge said.