Midwest Republicans prep for '04 elections

By Kathy Barks Hoffman

Associated Press

MACKINAC ISLAND, Mich. -- Michigan Attorney General Mike Cox invoked a possible win by Democratic presidentiil candidate Howard Dean over President Bush to fire up Republican activists Friday night.

"Imagine that on 2004 Election Night you turn on your TV, and you hear this from Dan Rather: 'Michigan's 17 electoral votes go to Howard Dean,"' Cox said to boos from the audience.

"Think about that. Let those painful words haunt you as you go to bed tonight: 'President Dean.' I'd sooner have Jimmy Dean than Howard Dean," he added as the audience laughed.


Cox made his remarks shortly after Lynne Cheney, wife of Vice President Dick Cheney, spoke to about 1,500 Republicans from a dozen Midwestern states gathered for a GOP leadership conference on Mackinac Island.

Cheney said the U.S. Armed Forces in Iraq "are making remarkable progress, and I don't think we hear enough about it."

She noted that 43 of the 55 Iraqi leaders sought by U.S. forces have been killed or captured; that U.S. soldiers are painting schools, building refugee housing and handing out free medical supplies; and that Iraq's political infrastructure is gradually emerging.

"In Iraq, where Saddam Hussein had chemical and biological weapons and sought nuclear capability, many terrorists found sanctuary," Cheney said. "Thanks to President Bush and his administration, Saddam Hussein's regime is no more."

Her comments were more careful than televised comments made by her husband last weekend that clouded the issue on whether there was a proven link between Saddam and the attacks of Sept. 11, 2001. President Bush said Wednesday there was no evidence that Saddam was involved in the terrorist attacks.

Besides his comments Friday night, Cox helped set the tone for the four-day GOP conference with T-shirts he handed out earlier in the day.

Beneath a picture of the Michigan governor's Mackinac Island residence were the words: "Take Back the Mansion. Keep the White House. Keep the State House."

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