Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Governor Crisscrosses State in Dash to Motivate Supporters to Go to Polls

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Governor Crisscrosses State in Dash to Motivate Supporters to Go to Polls

Article excerpt

Byline: Jim Saunders, Times-Union staff writer

BRANDON -- As Jeb Bush sat with his wife, Columba, and son, George P., in the front pew yesterday, Bell Shoals Baptist Church minister John Russell invited him to the pulpit.

Bush got up and quickly connected with the 1,500 people filling the Brandon church.

"I believe in the sanctity of innocent life, from the unborn to the end of life," he said.

And before ending, Bush told the crowd that "Jesus Christ is my personal savior," spurring a standing ovation.

For Bush, in the midst of a final dash through the state before tomorrow's gubernatorial election, the church was part of a series of well-organized stops aimed at motivating supporters to go to the polls.

At Bell Shoals, the audience was Christian conservatives, a bedrock of Bush's Republican Party. But during a three-day, 1,150-mile bus tour that ended yesterday, Bush reached thousands of supporters, ranging from senior citizens in Naples to barbecue and country-music fans at the Ham Jam festival in St. Johns County.

"The intention here is to make sure that our base knows that they shouldn't be complacent," Bush said after leaving the church in a customized bus.

Bush started the bus tour Friday morning in Pensacola and zigzagged to Destin, Panama City, Lake City, the World Golf Village near St. Augustine, Daytona Beach, Melbourne, suburban Orlando, Land O' Lakes, Seminole, Tampa, Brandon, Sarasota, Naples and Davie. Today he will fly across the state, visiting six cities, including Jacksonville.

The biggest event of the weekend was Bush's appearance Saturday with his brother, President George W. Bush, at a rally at the University of South Florida that drew several thousand supporters. But Jeb Bush also talked to smaller groups, even hopping off the bus for impromptu visits to a Steak 'n' Shake outside Orlando and a Cracker Barrel in Bradenton.

At times, the campaign stops were comical, such as Bush's visit to the Flap Jack Festival in the Pasco County town of Land O' Lakes. Flanked by five people dressed as huge pancakes, Bush handed out trophies to two children who won a flapjack eating contest. …

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