Kerry crowd roasts

Thousands of Bowling Green residents spent several hours baking in the summer sun on Sunday.

Bottled water was passed out by the case and medical crews took victims of heat exhaustion to the hospital, but thousands more, including several Ohioans from the Southeast, continued to scorch.

The crowd gathered to greet presidential candidate Sen. John F. Kerry, who parked his 17-vehicle motorcade on West Court Street and took to a stage on North Main Street that was surround by screaming, and sweating, supporters.

“It has been a long day,” junior Denae Sammons said, adding that she was impressed with the number of people who showed up for the event.

Campaign officials said the turnout was around 17,000 people.

Many of those in attendance were from Bowling Green, but several Kerry supporters affiliated with the Teamsters, teachers’, and firefighters’ unions were also in attendance, as well as those from different parts of Ohio.

“It was good for the people in this area to get to know John Kerry, and the message that he has for everyone,” said Mark Horton, secretary-treasurer of the Ohio Association of Professional Firefighters.

Kerry, who was joined by his running mate John Edwards, Edwards’ wife Elizabeth, and Sen. John Glenn, arrived at 4:28 p.m., almost five hours after supporters began lining the barricades around the stage.

The Kerry-Edwards team spent the weekend launching their “Believe in America Tour,” a 3,500 mile cross-country trip that marks the beginning of their general election campaign as official Democratic nominees.

The trip started Friday in Massachusetts, traveled through Pennsylvania and West Virginia, arrived in Zanesville Saturday evening, and then landed in Bowling Green after church in Springfield on Sunday.

Realizing that no presidential candidate has ever won the election without the state of Ohio’s support, Kerry hopes his visit will sway the Northwest part of the state, which has leaned Republican in past elections.

Senior Justin Fujka liked the idea of Kerry coming to Bowling Green.

“Well, I think it’s a good experience for the community, and you know it’s good that we get to see somebody that’s Democratic in a state that generally votes Republican,” Fujka said. “It offers a good opportunity for supporters to voice their opinion and be able to hear their leader in a place where it normally wouldn’t happen.”

During his speech, Kerry mentioned the ongoing rivalry between the Falcons and the University of Toledo’s Rockets, as well as Ohio State University football.

He also told the crowd of a buckeye he keeps with him, which was given to him by an Ohio youngster, and he hopes to set on the desk in the Oval office.

Several Bowling Green residents were excited about the Kerry-Edwards team’s visit.

“I thought it was great, really exciting. It was good to have the community come out and see all the supporters and I really enjoyed it,” junior Nicholas Spitler said, showing off a campaign sign with John Kerry’s autograph on it.

Senior Peter Smith agreed, but added that the candidate’s speech dealt with issues important to this area.

“I was really excited… and obviously in Ohio, talking about health care and bringing jobs back, that really hits home in this area,” Smith said.