Bush#039;s #039;surprise#039; visit a welcome event

Published 12:00 am Sunday, September 12, 2004

Tribune editorial board

Many people do not like it when strangers "drop by." But on Friday, the city of Ironton made an exception, a presidential exception.

President George W. Bush had planned on just driving through Ironton on his way between political stops in Huntington, W.Va., and Portsmouth.

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His route was not publicized for security reasons and few folks were supposed to know about his trip.

Well, most folks know it can be difficult to keep a secret in Lawrence County and for local Republican leadership the opportunity to woo Bush into stopping in the county was just too much. So they let the proverbial cat out of the bag.

And we're glad they did. When Bush saw the huge crowd, he had to stop.

A Secret Service agent scanning the crowd of several thousand on hand at the Lawrence County Courthouse was overheard saying, "This wasn't supposed to be publicized."

He underestimated our area's excitement over getting a chance to see the president. Those chances are fairly rare in this neck of the woods, especially in recent years.

According to local historians, the last sitting president who visited Ironton was President Harry S. Truman in 1948, one stop along Truman's 30,000 mile Whistle Stop Tour.

Other presidents, former presidents or soon-to-be presidents have also stopped in Ironton through the years. Those include: Candidate Dwight D. Eisenhower, President Herbert Hoover, President William Howard Taft and former President Theodore "Teddy" Roosevelt and soon-to-be president George H.W. Bush.

Local lore throws in a few other names, too, but faded memories make some of them difficult to recall for certain.

One thing, however, is certain. Bush's stop in Ironton not only made history, it probably also earned him a few votes. No matter one's political party, seeing the leader of the country is certainly a memory not soon forgotten. We're glad he stopped by, even if only briefly.