The New York Times
President Bush came to Colorado farm country on Saturday to lend support to Representative Marilyn Musgrave, a socially conservative Republican who is facing an unexpectedly tough Democratic challenge this year.
But on a day when the newspapers here gave prominent coverage to the admission by the Rev. Ted Haggard, the Colorado evangelical leader, that he bought drugs and received a massage from a gay prostitute who says they had sexual relations, Mr. Bush did not directly address the heated fight over a ballot measure here that would ban gay marriage.
Ms. Musgrave has been an active supporter, along with Mr. Haggard — who is in the White House stable of evangelical contacts — of the ban.
Mr. Bush also did not offer any remarks on immigration, a major issue in Colorado this year. Ms. Musgrave opposes his proposal for a guest-worker program, describing it as "amnesty."
Rather, Mr. Bush came to this community of ranchers and farmers in north central Colorado to deliver his blistering message against Democrats on taxes and terrorism. And, with a verdict in the trial of Saddam Hussein in Iraq due as early as Sunday, Mr. Bush offered extensive comments on Iraq.
"My decision to remove Saddam Hussein was the right decision, and the world is better off for it," Mr. Bush said, drawing some of his most sustained applause from a few thousand supporters here.
Looking out at a sea of signs, Mr. Bush — in rolled-up shirt sleeves and an open collar — then went into his new theme that Democrats are running against him but not for their own proposals for Iraq.
"I’ve been listening for the Democrats’ plan for success; there’s national silence," Mr. Bush said. "If you happen to bump into a Democratic candidate, you might want to ask them this simple question: What’s your plan?"
Just moments before, a war protester who infiltrated the rally stood up on a huge green tractor positioned in the exhibition hall and screamed, "I spent two years in Iraq!" and "Get out of Iraq!" Security officers quickly pulled the man from the tractor and escorted him out. Mr. Bush continued unfazed.
Outside the hall, a group of war protesters held signs like "West Point Graduates Against the War." War supporters gathered not far away and also held signs, including one that said, "Envision Losing."
The fight here over gay marriage was also on display. A truck circled the event site with a large billboard that read, "Stop Gay Marriage Now So Osama Doesn’t Get Away."
Mr. Bush, however, offered relatively sparse remarks on the issue, considering that he was campaigning for one of Congress’s most outspoken opponents of same-sex marriage and the sponsor of a proposed constitutional amendment banning it. He did not repeat his emphatic line from last week that marriage was "a union between a man and a woman and should be defended."
"Marilyn Musgrave understands the importance of defending traditional values," Mr. Bush said. "She has worked to prevent the institution of marriage from being redefined by activist judges. She understands your values."
Ms. Musgrave’s Democratic opponent, Angie Paccione, supports a ballot measure that would give same-sex couples the same legal rights as married couples.