Huge welcome for Bush

2009-07-05 08:24

Oklahoma - Former President George W Bush was greeted by thunderous applause on Independence Day as he told thousands of spectators in a rural Oklahoma rodeo arena that the US was "the greatest nation on the face of the earth."

Bush was given six standing ovations as he spoke in Woodward, a town of about 12 000 residents in northwest Oklahoma. About 9 200 tickets were sold for the event, which would mark the biggest crowd for Bush since he left office in January.

Bush spoke of the bravery of injured soldiers he'd met throughout his presidency, and thanked members of the military for their service. He joked with the crowd, telling them it was "nice of you to give a retired guy something to do."

The former president has turned up in a handful of out-of-the-way places since leaving office, and he surprised city leaders in Woodward by accepting their invitation to speak at festivities celebrating the $25 million renovation of a local park.

Won 80% of the vote

Woodward is friendly territory for Bush, who visited the town two decades ago while campaigning for his father's presidential bid. Oklahoma hasn't voted for a Democratic presidential candidate since 1964, and was the only state in the 2008 election to have every county vote for Republican candidate John McCain.

In 2004, Bush won 80.9% of the vote in Woodward County as he defeated Democratic challenger John Kerry.

A banner welcoming Bush hangs from a restaurant on a highway entering Woodward. Not far down the road, marquees for a local Atwoods store and a steak restaurant also bear welcoming messages.

Bush's principles ring true in Oklahoma, said Kris Day, who owns The Cowboy's Tack Shop with her husband, Neal.

Expensive tickets

"We're conservative," she said. "We don't spend money we don't have."

Riffel said it will be the first presidential visit to Woodward since the late 1950s, when Dwight Eisenhower landed at the airport outside town en route to view drought damage in the area.

Red, white and blue bunting hangs outside the arena at Crystal Beach Park where Bush is to speak. The two-day "Let Freedom Ring 2009" event also featured performances by country artists including Tanya Tucker, Marty Stuart, Asleep at the Wheel and Sawyer Brown.

Seats for the speech - held at a rodeo arena built in the 1930s as part of the Works Progress Administration - ranged from $25 up to $500 for the "Oval Office Ticket" in the first rows, close to Bush, with VIP parking and complimentary beverages.

Event promoter Landon Laubhan declined to say how much Bush was getting paid to speak.


Read more on:    independence day  |  john kerry  |  john mccain  |  george w bush  |  oklahoma  |  united states  |  usd

Read News24’s Comments Policy


Inside News24


Numsa prepares for life after Cosatu

Numsa has not only reiterated its call for President Jacob Zuma to resign but it is also preparing for life outside of Cosatu, a report states.


Latest elections multimedia

Why Jack Parow wants you to vote on 7 May
The ad the SABC doesn't want to air
Elections 2014 in one cartoon
This year's election posters
  • Thursday Sir Lowry's Pass - 05:35 AM
    Road name: Old Sir Lowrys Pass Road
    TRAFFIC LIGHTS not working at Bezweni Road
  • Thursday Cape Town - 05:35 AM
    Road name: Buitengracht Street
    TRAFFIC LIGHTS not working at Waterkant Street
More traffic reports...

Jobs in Cape Town [change area]

Property [change area]

Travel - Look, Book, Go!

Escape winter, head to Mauritius

Escape winter by spending 7 nights in Mauritius' tropical bliss from R13 215 per person sharing. Includes return flights, airport transfers and accommodation. Book now! - shop online today

Get many eggs in one basket!

Gaming bundles: 2 Super Hits games for R99, 3 Disney games for R99 and more + exclusive accessory bundles only available on While stocks last. Shop now!

25% off bestselling books!

The Real Meal Revolution by Tim Noakes, Jeffrey Archer’s Be Careful What You Wish for, Man’s Search for Meaning by Victor E. Frank and many more titles. Shop now!

Up to 25% off electronics

Buy top electronics and save up to 25%. Such as’s 1# selling product the gobii eReader, Patriot X Porter flash drive, Asus Nexus 7” 3G tablet, Samsung Galaxy SIII, Lenovo G580 Notebook and many more. Shop now!

DStv HD PVR Decoder now R949

The DStv HD PVR Decoder has further revolutionised the television experience with lifelike viewing, sharper images, more vibrant colours and precision picture quality. Now R949, save R550. Offer valid while stocks last. Shop now!

Up to 30% off appliances & homeware

Save up to 30% on appliances and homeware this Easter! Offer valid while stocks last. Shop now.

OLX Free Classifieds [change area]

Samsung Galaxy s4

Mobile, Cell Phones in South Africa, Western Cape, Cape Town. Date October 24

Best bargain in big bay

Real Estate, Houses - Apartments for Sale in South Africa, Western Cape, Cape Town. Date October 25

VW Golf 6, 1.6 Trendline (Excellent condition)

Vehicles, Cars in South Africa, Western Cape, Cape Town. Date October 25

Samsung Galaxy Tab P7500 10.1" Tablet With WiFi & 3G

Samsung Galaxy Tab 10.1 gives you a better experience for...

From R4999.00

I'm shopping for:


You may be good at organising events but they do take their toll on your energy levels. You may need some time out today just more

There are new stories on the homepage. Click here to see them.


Create Profile

Creating your profile will enable you to submit photos and stories to get published on News24.

Please provide a username for your profile page:

This username must be unique, cannot be edited and will be used in the URL to your profile page across the entire network.


Location Settings

News24 allows you to edit the display of certain components based on a location. If you wish to personalise the page based on your preferences, please select a location for each component and click "Submit" in order for the changes to take affect.

Facebook Sign-In

Hi News addict,

Join the News24 Community to be involved in breaking the news.

Log in with Facebook to comment and personalise news, weather and listings.