Bush twins urge students to vote

President Bush's daughters, Jenna and Barbara, have no problem committing to a multi-week press junket to support their father's re-election campaign. Jenna had no difficulty recalling embarrassing family memories, and Barbara easily ad-libbed an end to her speech when she misplaced her notes. The two, however, did have trouble wrapping their Texas accents around the word "Wisconsin."

Jenna and Barbara spoke to a crowd of approximately 200 students, Marquette College Republicans and Students for Bush members and media for about 20 minutes Wednesday in the Alumni Memorial Union Ballrooms. Sprinkling their speech with "y'all" and other subtle Texas-isms, they thanked their father's supporters and recounted colorful family memories.

"It's so fun to be in Wisconsin among all these people who have so much energy to re-elect my dad," said Jenna, who spoke first. "I appreciate everything you are doing to help him get elected for four more years."

Jenna spoke about the rest of her family's dedication to President Bush's re-election campaign and divulged several humorous family anecdotes, such as the time she "covered (herself) in wet paper towels" in hopes of embarrassing her father enough to leave a baseball game on a 108-degree day, before turning the podium over to her sister, Barbara.

Barbara spent the majority of her speech urging students to vote, after thanking volunteers.

"We hear all the time that young Americans just don't care and don't have time to vote and are more concerned with what's on MTV or in US Weekly," Barbara said. "But we do care."

After their speech, the women briefly posed for photographs before being whisked away by Bush campaign employees to the sounds of applauding audience members.

"It was nice to see (Bush's) daughters come speak for him," said Liz Thorson, a sophomore in the College of Health Sciences. Barbara and Jenna, both 22, are recent college graduates and are easy to relate to, Thorson said. "They're on the same level as us."

The Students for Bush members in the audience spent the time waiting for the women, who were delayed an additional 20 minutes in their arrival from Oshkosh by rain, calling licensed gun owners to ask for their support on phones temporarily donated by the Bush campaign, according to Students for Bush member Catherine Smedile, a sophomore in the College of Communication.

The visit by Bush's daughters underscores Wisconsin's status as a "swing state," or state that is believed by most experts to be up for grabs in the next election.

"Wisconsin is absolutely a state that is in play, and both campaigns would like to win it," said John McAdams, associate professor of political science.

Andrew Barrett, assistant professor of political science, agreed.

"In a close election, any state that's up for grabs is important," Barrett said. "This looks like a state that Bush can pick off."

Hence, both the Bush and Kerry campaigns have been trotting out their candidates and their surrogates and sending them across the state.

"They've both been going pretty hard at it," Barrett said. "They've both been making an all out play for it."

Any affect visits like the Bush twins' have on voting habits is minimal, however.

"They have a minor effect, but even a minor effect could tip the balance" of the state to either campaign, McAdams said.

Barrett said there is little academic evidence showing such visits influence voters.

"You're not going to see the Bush twins show up and see a three- to four-point swing in the polls tomorrow," he said.