Wednesday, September 01, 2004

NYC Firefighters For Bush

Hat-tip to Redstate:

New York firefighters to endorse Bush
by MICHAEL WEISSENSTEIN (Associated Press Writer)

NEW YORK (AP) _ The union representing the city's 8,600 firefighters will endorse President Bush Wednesday night at a social club in Queens, bolstering the Bush campaign's efforts to focus the nation's attention on the president's leadership following the Sept. 11 attacks.

Uniformed Firefighters Association president Steve Cassidy said he will announce the union's endorsement as he stands beside Bush at the Italian Charities of America hall in Elmhurst. Cassidy and Bush will share a meal of pizza and sodas with about 100 firefighters and watch Vice President Dick Cheney's address to the Republican National Convention, Cassidy said.

"The reason we're supporting President Bush is leadership," Cassidy said. "Post-9/11 we needed someone who had the courage and the integrity to do what was right for this country. The president said he would take the fight to the terrorists and he has done that."

The UFA's endorsement is loaded with symbolism. The Fire Department of New York lost 343 members on Sept. 11. One of the most enduring images of President Bush has come from footage of him with his arm around a firefighter at ground zero addressing rescue workers through a bullhorn.

The union, which has traditionally backed both Republicans and Democrats in local and state elections, did not make an endorsement in the 2000 presidential race.

This year, the Bush campaign has been working to evoke Bush's response to the attacks without opening the campaign to criticism that it is exploiting a tragedy for political ends.

Bush is scheduled to arrive in New York on Wednesday and address the convention Thursday night. A Republican Party source, speaking to The Associated Press on condition of anonymity, said Bush would also visit two firehouses Wednesday night. A fire department spokesman said the campaign had made no formal arrangement to visit a firehouse.

The International Association of Fire Fighters has endorsed Democratic Sen. John Kerry, along with the union representing the city's 2,900 fire lieutenants, captains and other officers.

A spokesman for the Bush campaign did not immediately return a call for comment, nor did a spokesman for the Kerry camp.

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