The Great Loyalty Oath Crusade
Some Democrats seeking Cheney tickets had to sign oath
By RICHARD BENKE
Associated Press Writer
RIO RANCHO, N.M. (AP) -- Some Democrats who signed up to hear Vice President Dick Cheney speak here Saturday were refused tickets unless they signed a pledge to endorse President Bush.
The measure was a security step designed to avoid a disruption, which Bush campaign spokesman Dan Foley alleged Democrats were planning. Democratic Party officials denied it.
Several Democrats, at least, encountered the screening measures Thursday after calling from a line that self-identified as ACT, America Coming Together, an activist group that supports Kerry, Foley said. Others attempted to give false names and were denied tickets, he said.
Two men who had sought tickets reported they were required to give name, address, phone number, e-mail address and driver's license number, then were presented the pledge of endorsement when they arrived to pick up the tickets Thursday.
One of them, John Wade of Albuquerque, said he signed the pledge because he wanted the tickets but then changed his mind.
"I got to thinking this is not right," Wade said. "They're excluding people -- that's what has me so upset."
He returned the tickets and campaign workers returned his pledge.
Vietnam veteran Michael Ortiz y Pino said he refused to sign the pledge and was refused tickets.
Ortiz y Pino said he was asked if he associated with veterans, pro-life, gun rights or teacher groups.
Neither man wanted to give driver's license numbers but did so.
"I said why do you need that?" Ortiz y Pino said.
A campaign worker, he said, replied: "Secret Service stuff."
Kerry campaign spokesman Ruben Pulido Jr. said there had been no plan by the campaign to disrupt Cheney's event.
"I think that every American should have the right to see their vice president and hear from him firsthand what he plans to do for our country," Pulido said.
He also said the Kerry campaign had not attempted to screen Bush supporters out of Kerry's appearance at the National Hispanic Cultural Center in Albuquerque on July 9.
On that occasion, about a dozen Bush supporters wearing flip-flop beach sandals began chanting "Viva Bush" and waved their flip-flops over their heads. They contend Kerry has flip-flopped on the war.
The incident ended peacefully.
For Saturday's event, Foley, a New Mexico legislator, said the Cheney campaign didn't want supporters denied places that might be taken by detractors.
Some Democrats who are Bush supporters were welcomed without signing anything, he said.
The endorsement pledges, he said, were for screening purposes, not for any advertisement listing names of Democrats who support Bush.
Foley asked of the Kerry-Edwards campaign: "How many tickets did you give to Bush-Cheney supporters from New Mexico to hear Senator Kerry's speech tonight at the Democratic National Convention?"
Asked if Cheney might discuss a terrorism warning issued Thursday for New Mexico, Foley said he did not know.
Richard Fox, a political science instructor at a local community college, said attempts to screen political events is commonplace.
But he said: "This pledge or this 'loyalty oath' -- quote-unquote -- to me is unheard of."
It's not like Democrats are citizens of the United States of America and are, therefore, entitled not only to hear candidates speak, but to be addressed by their vice-president. Sounds eerily like the beginning of something to me. I don't mean something good, either, I mean that something wicked, or at least really goddamn foolish, this way comes. Where's Major ____ de Coverley when you need him?
And, in other news, President Bush has announced the formation of a new armed citizen's-auxiliary group to supplement the National Guard in a domestic anti-terrorism role. This auxiliary group, named the "Fedayeen-Dubya" has been issued heavy weapons and is being detailed to provide security to polling places during the upcoming presidential elections.
"Well, thank the lord!" Cathy Helvenshaw of Big Hole, Nevada told this reporter, "I've been so worried that the elections would be unpleasant. Democracy has been so unruly lately. We've needed a strong leader like President Bush to take us in hand."
Bush administration officials have admitted that the presence of the Fedayeen-Dubya may be intimidating to some Democrats, but respond to such charges by saying that the president will, at least, make the trains run on time.
Legal Notice: All quotes not in italics are the product of the author's deranged, but satirical and strangely accurate, imagination. If you are actually named "Cathy Helvenshaw" and live in "Big Hole, Nevada," shit, really? There's a "Big Hole, Nevada?" Didn't it occur to y'all to come up with a slightly more attractive name? Anyway, sorry about this, but I didn't mean to malign your good name by implying that you support Bush. Or, alternatively, if you do support Bush I, um, really don't see what you're complaining about.