Home News Tribune

150 War Protesters Heckle President

Home News Tribune — Thursday, May 31, 2007

By GENE RACZ and JOHN MAJESKI
STAFF WRITERS

EDISON — As protesters chanted "Hey Bush we know you – you're a thief, a liar, and a killer too!" the presidential motorcade sped into Raritan Center Wednesday for a Republican fundraiser.

Shortly after 5 p.m., President Bush arrived at the New Jersey Convention & Exposition Center to raise money for the state's Republican Party and was jeered and heckled by approximately 150 protesters who had gathered for a rally in a nearby parking lot.

Hazlet resident Richard Fuller, 72, was part of the unwelcoming party. The retired schoolteacher and Monmouth County Green Party coordinator clutched a sign reading: "W's Report Card: death, destruction, debt, deficit, deceit." Each "D" was highlighted in red.

"Somebody said the marks weren't low enough – he should've gotten an "F,' " Fuller said.

The protesters held signs, sang songs, waved flags and heard speeches for about two hours prior to Bush's arrival. Bruce Springsteen tunes blared at times. Along an adjoining roadway, more protesters held signs and engaged passing motorists to honk for support. One sign read: "How many pints of blood are in a gallon of gas?" Another read: "Impeach the Murdering Liar." Another simply read: "Bad Bush. Arf! Arf!"

Perhaps the most moving item held by protesters was a long string from which 54 placards hung – each with the face, name and hometown of a New Jersey soldier who has died in the Iraq war thus far. The placards also listed how each was killed.

Lawmakers join in

The rally was sponsored by New Jersey Citizen Action and Americans Against Escalation in Iraq. The broad-based coalition of organizations and associations was joined by Choi, state Sen. Barbara Buono, D-Middlesex, Rep. Frank Pallone, D-6th Dist., and Assemblyman Joseph Cryan, D-Union, in the parking lot. Serving as a backdrop was a school bus painted red, white and blue with the slogan "Bus for Change." The bus is operated by a small grass-roots group of anti-Bush citizens.

Edison Mayor Jun Choi, a Democrat, asked the Edison police to escort the protesters down to an intersection where they could be seen and heard by the motorcade.

"I sure hope this is the last time President Bush comes to Edison," said Choi. "Our country is at a crossroads, and the real issues that really matter for working families, the backbone of our country, from education to health care, they're not being addressed. In fact, it's going in the opposite direction. And then you also have the worst foreign policy ever in U.S. history. You add that combo together, and it's devastating for a country."

The opposition didn't mince words.

"President Bush is the worst president I've seen in my lifetime – bar none," said 56-year-old Maplewood resident Bennet Zurofsky, "and from my study of history, the worst of all time."

The self-employed lawyer, sporting a beard and guitar, performed during the protest with the Solidarity Singers of the New Jersey Industrial Union Council. They came armed with song parodies such as "Take Him Out of the White House," sung to the tune of "Take Me Out to the Ballgame."

Zurofsky said he opposes Bush for his policies on Iraq, the way he handled Hurricane Katrina and because he hasn't "done anything for anyone below the top 1 percent" income-earners in America.

"I would hope he feels so unwelcome in New Jersey he never comes back," Zurofsky said of the nation's leader.

"What are you thinking?'

Ed Dunphy, 61, said Bush should be impeached for "lying" about why America needed to go to war with Iraq.

"I'd like to know if he'd send his daughters to Iraq," said the Lawrence resident. "Does he realize how it's tearing the hearts out of American families?"

Barbara Babcock would ask the same question if given face time with the president.

"I would ask him, "What are you thinking?' " said the 64-year-old New Providence, Union County, resident. " "And when are you going to send your own children to war?"'

Babcock said the Iraq war is a failure of disastrous proportions.

"It's important to do everything we can to wake up the majority of Americans and make them realize what we're losing . . . in terms of reputation around the world and the torture allowed that imperils our soldiers."

Fellow protester Phyllis Warren, who disagrees with Bush on more than the war, took time off from her job as a lawyer to attend Wednesday's rally. The 59-year-old Lawrence resident and mother of an Iraq war veteran said she'd only be wasting her breath if given a chance to speak personally with Bush.

"I'm not sure there's much to say to him he would relate to," she said.

Cryan said state Republicans having Bush come to raise money for them was like throwing a "Hail Mary pass" in football.

"But they have a bad quarterback," Cryan added.

GOP draws fire too

Buono and Pallone took the opportunity to bash state Republicans for taking Bush's money, supporting his policies and preserving the status quo.

"I think the bigger issue here is what this says about the New Jersey Republican party," said Buono. "By Bush coming here, it says loud and clear that the New Jersey Republican party is the party of George Bush and Dick Cheney. The New Jersey Republicans take their money, take their marching orders and perhaps most tragically, take their (policy) positions."

Pallone said the Democrats need help from the Republicans in Congress to get a two-thirds majority vote to override a Bush veto on a variety on issues, especially those concerning the war in Iraq.

"The New Jersey Republicans are not willing to help us," said Pallone. "I just think that President Bush is so out of touch with concerns and positions of New Jersey, that the New Jersey Republicans shouldn't even have him here.

"We tried to move to a timetable to get out of Iraq, and Bush says he's opposed to it," added Pallone. "We've been trying to address affordability issues like health insurance for children, he's opposed to what we have in mind. We've been trying to cut interest loans in half and have a more robust student loan program, he's opposed to that.

"So what is he doing here?"

Top Top | NJCA Homepage | NJCA in the News