Saturday, October 22, 2005

The Citizens Voice - News - 10/22/2005 - Cheney's Negative Downer For Santorum Only Raised $300,000

The Citizens Voice - News - 10/22/2005 - Cheney helps raise $300,000 for Santorum: " The Citizens Voice home : news : news : top stories

Cheney helps raise $300,000 for Santorum
By:Tim Gulla and Tom Long 10/22/2005
Vehicles under $40,000 were in short supply on Sutton Road in Jackson Township on Friday.
BMWs, big model Mercedes and even a Bentley were common sights in the upscale neighborhood that played host to a $1,000-a-plate fundraiser for U.S. Sen. Rick Santorum.
While the day was meant for Santorum, it belonged to U.S. Vice President Dick Cheney, who came to the Back Mountain community as a drawing card for the event.
The fundraiser raised about $300,000 for Santorum's campaign chest, and more than $200,000 for a statewide Republican election fund, said John Brabender, Santorum's media consultant.
Hazleton Mayor Lou Barletta said he didn't know the fundraiser's exact goal, but believed it exceeded expectations. Barletta serves as a regional campaign coordinator for Santorum.
Cheney's visit was short, roughly one hour, yet it made a strong impression on attendees, including Lackawanna County Commissioner Robert Cordaro.
"He's a straightforward guy," Cordaro said of Cheney. "He says it as he sees it."
Cheney met with a small group of community and business leaders for a brief roundtable before addressing a crowd estimated at 300.
The private fundraiser was held in the home of Ron and Rhea Simms and was not open to the public or media. Large tents were set up on the side of the Simms' home, and dozens of police officers and Secret Service agents guarded the home and its two driveways. Guests parked in a grassy field roughly two miles away and were chauffeured in a small fleet of vans and limousines.
Cheney's address was wide-ranging and attendees said the vice president talked about Iraq, terrorism, avian flu, the economy and oil prices.
The festive crowd roared when Cheney entered the tent.
"It was like a victory rally,'' said U.S. Rep. Don Sherwood.
Cheney's visit said a lot about the campaign, Barletta said.
"I think this was a pretty good indication of what we can expect; for the vice president of the United States to come this early (in the campaign). It's an indication there will be plenty more to come," the Hazleton mayor said.
Cheney told Cordaro that Santorum's Senate race is regarded as the most important in the country.
The campaign staff of Santorum's key challenger, state Treasurer Robert Casey Jr. of Scranton, wasn't awed by Cheney's invite-only visit.
"Sen. Santorum is obviously worried about Cheney's approval rating,'' Casey's campaign manager Jay Reiff said.
Adam Helfrich, of Wilkes-Barre, favors neither Democrats nor Republicans but took a break from a fall motorcycle ride in the country to see Cheney's arrival. He attended campaign stops by both President Bush and Sen. John Kerry last year.
"I'm not really into it (politics),'' he said. "It's just something (to see the people running the country)."
Dozens of local police officers participated in security details along the vice president's travel route, including the entire 10-man Jackson Township Police Department.
Transporting the vice president is complicated. Jackson Township Police Chief Jerome Leedock said police from every jurisdiction along the motorcade route met Monday with Secret Service and state police to review the details.
Putting extra manpower on the road will represent some extra costs to Jackson Township, but Leedock didn't know how much.
Jackson Township Supervisor Chairman and Roadmaster Jay Wilkes didn't attend the fundraiser. He was out with the township's road crew helping on traffic detail.
He didn't mind the work, though. "This is a first for the community ... that we had the vice president visit one of our residents," he said. "We took pride in that."
Road crews cleaned up Sutton Road prior to the vice president's visit, but Wilkes said the work wasn't necessarily out of the ordinary.
Wilkes did not know how much the vice presidential visit will cost Jackson Township, or whether it will be reimbursed.
"When the Secret Service approaches your community, I believe its more of a directive than a request," he said. Still, he added, "This may be a once in a lifetime event for the community."
Though the event was expensive to attend, the food wasn't lavish: Chicken salad sandwiches and finger foods. "It was more the political menu," said Kingston attorney Bob Davison.

tgulla@citizensvoice.com"

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