A Firsthand Report on the President’s Visit

Will Ricci, East Providence Republican City Committee Treasurer, National Federation of Republican Assemblies Regional Vice-President, and most importantly, frequent Anchor Rising commenter was able to attend today’s Presidential visit to the Naval War College in Newport. Will sends along his impressions, observations, and a photograph from the event…


Will Ricci: I had the opportunity to attend the President’s address at the Naval War College earlier today as a guest of the Governor, with a handful of other local Republicans. The audience was heavily populated with Navy officers, with a great many guests from other countries. I was seated less than 50 feet away (about ten rows) directly in front of the President’s podium. The program began a little late at about 11:15 am.
There was a funny moment right at the beginning, when the unseen announcer said, “Please welcome the President… of the Naval War College, Rear Adm. Jacob Shuford”. Everyone broke out in laughter. The admiral made some brief remarks and then quickly introduced the President, who then appeared on stage with Gov. Carcieri to the sounds of Hail to the Chief. After a long standing ovation, everyone was seated. Gov. Carcieri then delivered some welcoming remarks behind the Presidential podium (he looked comfortable there), and then the President dove right into his speech.
The speech was heavily focused on terrorism, with an emphasis on what’s going on in Iraq right now. Much of it had to do with sharing information that the mainstream media doesn’t like to cover, such as that we’re winning! I won’t go heavily into the substance of the speech, as I assume the local media will cover that ad infinitum. The President showed some very interesting maps and diagrams on the monitors behind him demonstrating the progress that we’ve made, both before and during the surge. All I can tell you is that he had the audience at his full attention for the entire speech, which lasted about an hour, and that he covered a considerable amount of detail. He was not using a teleprompter, and used his notes only sparingly. It made me feel pretty good that he had such a clear understanding of what is at stake in Iraq and elsewhere. He didn’t make any gaffes or other “Bushisms.” He came off as human, genuine, and very engaged.
After the speech ended, I think he surprised everyone by asking the audience for questions. They weren’t planted questions. He stayed for about another 15 minutes or so and answered all sorts of questions ranging from relations with Great Britain and Columbia, to ongoing diplomatic efforts with North Korea, and the use of naval forces around the world in the future. He made an effort to single out Venezuela and Cuba as places of interest in this hemisphere, and made a comment which I think the media might pick up on regarding Fidel Castro. I believe it started with “when the Lord calls Fidel … away” (not home). It got a few approving nods.
PS As for protestors, unless they were hiding, there were virtually none. We saw ONE protestor at the main gate coming in, and I believe three outside when we left. It was paltry in any case.

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Scott Bill Hirst
Scott Bill Hirst
14 years ago

Hi!
I am delighted Will had a chance to attend.He is a great worker in GOP ranks and while I may not always agree with him, he is without a doubt, a “work horse” not a “show horse”!
Of course,it is interesting how he had a “in” to go.I suspect a number of Republicans would have loved to have had the opportunity.
Regards,
Scott

Tim
Tim
14 years ago

Will.
The TV media found the protestors and no question the print media will be all over them tomorrow. A motley crew in desperate need of a bath a shave and a soup kitchen somewhere. I was most embarrassed for the media and their thinking that group was in any way relevant to anyone or anything. Of course the same media completely ignored the Gold Star families who met with the President. Dan Yorke has a great interviwew with Richard August who lost his son. A very insightful and moving interview about the families meeting in private with the President. That’s who the media needed to focus on but the very articulate Mr. August does not forward the media’s liberal agenda re: President Bush. They never fail to meet our lowly expectations do they? lol R.I.’s tv and print media. They really are a collective third rate outfit.
Was a great day in Rhode Island. Awesome for the President to come and lift the spirits of the Gold Star families and the naval servicemen in Newport. It was also nice to see the Governor having a good time. He represents this state with class and grace. Can’t think of even one Democrat in possession of those qualities. Their absence (other than that embarrassing motley crowd of protestors) was greatly appreciated. A classy day all the way around.

brassband
brassband
14 years ago

Anybody got a link to the speech (either video or text)?
I was able to hear parts of it over the radio at work, but I did not hear the whole thing.
By the way, I think that when Bush actually talks about Iraq and the war on terror, he makes total sense and is very persuasive. One big mystery of the current WH media operation is why they have so completely failed to make use of the bully pulpit to defend what we are doing.

brassband
brassband
14 years ago

Actually, it’s on the White House website. Here’s the link to the speech and related maps:
http://www.whitehouse.gov/news/releases/2007/06/20070628-14.html

SusanD
SusanD
14 years ago

Great report, Will.
Did you fly to Newport on the Presidential chopper …?

Will
Will
14 years ago

It was a truly great experience to have been a part of, if only because of the historic aspect of it. However, I was also impressed by the President’s ability to connect with the audience. I just wish that would translate in other media forums. Trust me, I don’t always agree with the President (i.e. the “scamnesty” bill that went down in flames today), but he’s still the President, and I know in his heart, he does what he thinks is right for the country. I was really amazed at just how close I was seated to him (it was a roughly 600 seat capacity auditorium). I took that picture that Andrew posted from my seat (we weren’t really allowed out of them once things started, and actually had to stay there for a good 20-30 minutes after he left). That particular picture was taken after the speech and questions were over, when he spent maybe 10 minutes shaking hands with service members in the front row area, and giving autographs and having pictures taken with them. I had actually brought a pair of binoculars along with me, as with most GOP events I’ve been a part of, I was expecting very crappy seating, with a specks-eye view of the action. I was glad to be wrong! My only “in” is that I’m a very active member of the RIGOP state central committee (amongst many other things as you’ve noted), and that I happened to respond very quickly to their generous last minute invitation. I feel very privleged to have been able to go. PS If you didn’t think I’d had enough of Newport today, I just came home from a Portsmouth GOP Talls Ships cruise tonight of Newport Harbor — that coincidentally happened to be on the same day… Read more »

Will
Will
14 years ago

By the way, in regard to the protestor(s), if there were more than a few, no one who attended the event would have really had the opportunity to see (or hear) them. We saw one lady when we first arrived that looked a little like Joan Baez with a handmade sign. The building that we eventually ended up in was pretty deep within the base, so even if everyone had brought megaphones and pots and pans, we wouldn’t have heard a peep.
Everyone was asked to arrive very early (we got there at 8:30am), so that we could get though various layers of security, and everyone stayed at least a 1/2 hour after it ended, so whatever protestors who may have shown up in the area came and went unnoticed by us. When we left at about 1:00pm or so, there were three, maybe four people still out front (and you’re right, they did have a certain hippie-esque look), but they looked harmless enough. However, even upon exiting, I couldn’t actually read what their signs said from where we were, not that anyone there would have likely cared about it anyway.

Fred on the Blog
Fred on the Blog
14 years ago

Will
Great that you got to go and watch the president. Great report.
Scott Bill H.
You should become a democrat. What kind of comment is it to lead with.
He is a great worker in GOP ranks and while I may not always agree with him, he is without a doubt, a “work horse” not a “show horse”
Why would you have to throw a negative in with your compliments?
Atleast you did not drop all your Heritage and past political seats you have held.
Try to be more positive with life.

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