Published: 01.21.2004

Tucson speech viewers split along party lines

By Eric Swedlund and Thomas Stauffer


Democrat William Zivic, with his wife, Carol, said he doesn't know whose statistics he should believe

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Applauding as President Bush laid out his achievements and new proposals for the next year, college Republicans said they observed a sharp contrast in tone between Bush's State of the Union and the campaigns of Democratic presidential hopefuls.


Meanwhile, several Demo-crats and Independents in Tucson questioned much of what the president called achievements.


"The thing that stood out most to me was the tone," said Tyler Harris, a 19-year-old sophomore from Santa Rosa, Calif. "It was very optimistic and at the same time realistic. He offered concrete details and solutions to the problems facing America now and in the future."


About 20 members of the Arizona College Republicans club gathered at Zachary's Classic Pan Pizza south of campus and tuned into the State of the Union address on Fox News.


"He put forth solid ideas and advanced good policy," said Harris, a mathematics major. "It strikes me as the commitment this president has to follow through with proposals."


The president's speech elicited a far different reaction from 36-year-old Democrat Ann Fine, who said it "made me sick to my stomach."


"The whole first half of the speech seemed to be about what we're doing in other parts of the world, making a military state out of ourselves and exerting our military presence in the world, and he's still drumming up 9/11 all over again," said Fine, events coordinator at the UA's Poetry Center. "We're hearing from the salesman, not the people who bought the car. The programs that he's selling are not good for the people."


An artist and retired detective said he found no surprises in Bush's speech.


"He touched on the war quite a bit, but he never did mention the fact that they haven't found any weapons of mass destruction," said William Zivic, a 73-year-old Democrat.


Zivic said he's always perturbed at the statistics bandied about at such events.


"School funding is up 36 percent, drug use is down 11 percent, and we have the best health-care system in the world," Zivic said. "Then (Sen. Tom) Daschle comes on afterward and says 46 percent of American don't even have health care, and that's not very good, but where did he get his numbers? Whose numbers do we believe?"


Gerald Marcoe said he found much to agree with in the speech, including Bush's comments on preserving aspects of the Patriot Act and supporting the sanctity of marriage.


But the self-described "snowbird" said he's disagreed with Bush over the war in Iraq since "Day One."


"I was disappointed that he didn't discuss any sort of timetable for getting out of there," said Marcoe, a 62-year-old independent. "I really wish there was more of an aggressive program of extricating ourselves."


Wearing "Viva Bush" stickers and applauding mostly in step with the Washington, D.C., audience - and conversely booing television images of Sen. Edward Kennedy, D-Mass. - the young Republicans said they shared Bush's vision for the United States.


"Not only did he have a lot to talk about what his policies have accomplished so far, he talked about his proposals for this year," said Adam Deguire, a 20-year-old political science and history sophomore from Phoenix.


In particular, Deguire said he thinks the prisoner re-entry initiative will be effective because statistics show people released from prison without the proper assistance often end up committing crimes and being sent back to prison.


"For the state of our nation right now, we're on the right path," said Meghan Thein, a 23-year-old UA employee and Republican club member. "The president is definitely going in the right direction for our futures."


In Kearney, retired mine-worker Rafael Rios Guzman said he wasn't particularly enamored of the president's push to bring more faith-based charities into the fold of social services.


"I'd really like to keep the church completely separated from the state," said the 75-year-old Democrat. "I think the history of the world shows that that church seems to take advantage of people in that kind of situation."


* Contact reporters Thomas Stauffer at 573-4197 or and Eric Swedlund at 629-9412 or


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