Saturday, October 22, 2005

Times Leader | 10/22/2005 | Only 200 Show For Cheney's Visit - For some people it was nothing more than a headache.

Times Leader | 10/22/2005 | Cheney�s visit causes a stir: "Vice president in Jackson Twp.


Cheney’s visit causes a stir

He was in the area Friday for Sen. Rick Santorum’s $1,000-a-head fund-raiser.

By JON FOX jfox@leader.net


“They went by too fast.”

Mary Nice Cheney observer


JACKSON TWP. – For some people it was nothing more than a headache.

As Vice President Dick Cheney was ushered to a $1,000-a-head fund-raiser for U.S. Sen. Rick Santorum, traffic snarled.

Led by a phalanx of motorcycle cops on cream-colored Harley Davidsons, Cheney’s motorcade swerved off of Route 309 onto Sutton Road. A pale hand waved from behind the tinted glass of the second of two black limos.

“Excuse me,” said a woman from the driver’s side window of her truck. “You know what’s going on? I got off 81 and like every exit is blocked.”

The disrupted traffic had disrupted her day, and she was taking five in the parking lot of the Sheetz gas station.

A fund-raiser?

“Oh I got an invitation to that. I’m not going,” she said. “You had to come up with like $1,000.”

Even after the limos, SUVs and police cars cleared the intersection and the traffic light flashed green, cars stood still.

A man yelled from his pickup, “What’s going on?”

The vice president?

Leaning halfway out the window, Dave Hook made a hand gesture indicating he couldn’t care less.

It was just after 11 a.m. and Hook was halfway between Noxen and his job in Wilkes-Barre. He was wearing a tie. He was smoking a small cigar. And he was late.

“I was supposed to be at work like half an hour ago.”

For others it was nothing more than a spectacle.

Bernie and Andrea didn’t have to be at work. They stood near Sutton Road waiting for the road show to pass them by.

The married couple – they declined to give their last names – were on the first a day of a vacation. They weren’t going anywhere, just kicking around the house.

Then they heard vice presidential chatter on their police scanner.

They had a passing interest in Cheney, but they were more captivated by the sight of it all.

“This is the stuff we like to see,” Bernie said pointing to the cops stopping traffic.

“It’s amazing to see how one human being can create so much …,” he trailed off searching for a word.

The low thump-thump-thumping of a helicopter briefly preceded the motorcade.

“Here it comes,” Bernie said.

“This is awesome,” said his wife with a hint of sarcasm. “This is what we do on vacation.”

On Sutton Road, about a mile from the palatial home of Rhea and Ron Simms, where Cheney was to speak, a mother and two daughters sat on their front porch just a few feet from the pavement.

“They went by too fast,” said 63-year-old Mary Nice. “I thought he’d stop and shake my hand.”

Nice had promised her son-in-law and her grandson in Georgia that she’d do her best to catch a glimpse and take a picture.

She’d spent the night at her mom’s house and had been on the porch since 9 a.m.

“Well, Mary, was it worth camping out all night here?” her mom, Aneila Cummings, asked.

“That state trooper wasn’t bad-looking,” she answered.

That seemed to be the consensus with Aneila, Mary and her sister Helen Cummings: The best part of it all was the handsome state trooper who stopped for a moment in their driveway.

At the secluded Simms home, a wooded lot partially concealed the white tents erected for the fund-raising event.

Santorum, a two-term Republican senator, faces Democratic challenger Bob Casey Jr., the state treasurer and son of former Gov. Bob Casey.

The 2006 race between the third-ranking Republican senator and the man whose family name is synonymous with Pennsylvania politics is expected to be expensive and difficult.

Guests at Friday’s event, estimated by a Santorum volunteer at more than 200, paid $1,000 a plate at lunch and could get a photo taken with the vice president for $5,000. A representative of Santorum’s campaign said $300,000 was raised.

The event was previously scheduled and then postponed in the wake of the devastation caused by Hurricane Katrina, said a spokesperson for Santorum’s campaign.

Guests said Cheney and Santorum spoke for a total of about 20 minutes. Cheney was at the home for about an hour and left shortly after 12:30 p.m. the same way he came, waving slowly from the back of a black limo."

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