In Crystal Beach Park Arena in the small rural town of Woodward, Oklahoma, population 12,000, the Freedom Ring 2009 festival was held. 9,200 tickets were sold. The organizers said that 14,000 enthusiastic supporters attended the event, and it was standing room only for President Bush's address to the crowd.
Bush spoke to thunderous applause and six standing ovations. Bush called the U.S. the ‘’greatest nation on the face of the earth." (Has Obama issued an arrest warrant for insulting other nations?)
Six standing ovations? I suspect it will be sixty in no time. If Obama has taught us anything, it's a terrible longing for what we've lost. A paradise lost, slipping so casually through our fingers.
The New York Times actually filed the following report. It makes you wonder who gets the pink slip for this one:
Former President George W. Bush was greeted by thunderous applause on the Fourth of July as he told thousands of spectators in a rural Oklahoma rodeo arena that the U.S. was ''the greatest nation on the face of the earth.''
Bush was given six standing ovations as he spoke on a warm, humid evening in GOP-friendly Woodward, a town of about 12,000 residents in northwest Oklahoma and the latest in a handful of out-of-the-way places Bush has visited since leaving office.
During a 30-minute speech mostly devoid of political references -- he mentioned his successor, Barack Obama, just once in passing -- Bush thanked members of the military, spoke about the bravery of injured soldiers he'd met and told stories of people in difficult situations helping others.
''Patriotism comes in all different kinds of forms,'' he said. ''Freedom is beautiful, freedom is precious, freedom must always be defended.''
After the speech, Bush waded into the crowd for a few minutes, giving hugs, signing autographs and shaking hands. ''I didn't think he'd do that,'' Fanning said. ''I told him he's welcome back any time.''
In 2004, Bush won 80.9 percent of the vote in Woodward County as he defeated Democratic challenger John Kerry.
''I came because George Bush was coming down here and I wanted to see him,'' said 48-year-old Douglas Stewart of nearby Freedom, who had a U.S. flag attached to his ballcap. ''I helped put him in office twice. I'm proud to say I did.''
The town welcomed Bush with banners on restaurants, hotels and a highway entering Woodward. Three protesters standing outside the arena with anti-Bush signs left by mid-afternoon. No protests were seen inside the arena.
City Manager Alan Riffel said it was the first presidential visit to Woodward since the late 1950s, when Dwight Eisenhower landed at the airport outside town en route to view drought damage in the area.