By Holly Ramer, Associated Press Writer, 3/26/2004
NASHUA, N.H. -- Two men and a woman who refused to move to a designated protest area were detained by police just before President Bush's arrival.
About 50 people gathered across the street from the New Hampshire Community Technical College before Bush arrived Thursday to hold "A Conversation on Job Training and the Economy."
Secured behind police tape, the protesters used banners, balloons and bull horns to blast Bush on the war on Iraq, his handling of the environment and his energy policy. Some chanted "Bush lied, soldiers died," while others held signs reading "Support Our Troops: Vote Bush Out" and "More Trees, Less Bush."
Susi Nord, 35, of Candia, was waving a small American flag and holding a sign that said, "The emperor has no clothes."
She said Bush has been fooling the American people for long enough, and that he should talk to real voters in New Hampshire instead of holding staged events.
"I've seen all the other candidates, and I've been able to ask some of them questions, but President Bush isn't coming to New Hampshire to speak to real people," said Nord, who above all else wanted to hear Bush explain whether his energy policy was dictated by campaign contributors.
Geoffrey Caldwell, a student at Franklin Pierce College, pounded on his makeshift drum -- an overturned paint bucket -- so hard that he had cracked the plastic surface well before Bush arrived.
With a bouquet of daffodils tucked into his coat to symbolize peace, the 24-year-old said he grew up in a conservative home and had voted for Bush in 2000 before changing direction.
"It's the only thing in my life I regret," he said.
A few supporters of the president planted themselves among the protesters. A young boy holding a "Bush-Cheney" sign prompted a critic to yell at him, "Hey little boy, you're already in debt! How does that feel?"
Richard Corrigan, 40, of Nashua, held up a banner supporting Bush and a sign that said "Kerry Sucks."
"I think he's a liar," he said of Democratic presidential candidate John Kerry.
Inside, Bush emphasized a jobs program that would include $250 million in grants to community colleges that partner with employers looking for higher-skilled workers.
Bush said increased support for community colleges would help them train workers for industries that are creating the most new jobs. Democrats countered by noting that Bush's 2005 budget proposal would cut funds for job training by more than one-third.
"He has a credibility problem when he talks about job training and what he's done to create jobs," said former Gov. Jeanne Shaheen, national chairwoman of Kerry's campaign. "His last three budgets have cut funds for job training. He's cut funds to help small businesses... That's a particular concern in a state like New Hampshire where so much of our economy is based on small business."
Joining Shaheen on a conference call with reporters was Lorri Carey, a florist who owns her own shop in Boscawen.
Carey said due to rising health insurance costs and gasoline prices, she decided to forgo her salary this year rather than lay off her workers. She's even been tempted to remove the framed dollar bill from her first sale and use it for groceries, she said.
"How do I absorb these costs? We were promised a recovery in July. I'm waiting to see that recovery," she said. "Things have improved, but they've not improved to cover the rising costs of the taxes, the fuel costs, the energy costs."