Several hundred Republicans assembled in a hangar at the SugarLand Regional Airport for the Texas Victory 2006 Rally. President Bush arrived aboard Marine One and immediately spoke out in support of write-in Congressional Candidate Shelley Sekula Gibbs.
"I always feel better when I'm in Texas. Thanks for coming out. I'm honored you are here. I appreciate you taking time out of your day. I thank you for joining me in saying loud and clear to the people of the 22nd Congressional District, Shelley Sekula Gibbs is the right person to serve you in the United States Congress."
Sekula Gibbs is running for District 22, which was vacated by former House Majority Leader Tom Delay. The district is historically Republican, but Democratic Candidate Nick Lampson has put on a successful campaign and was considered by many to be the automatic winner. University of Houston Political Science Professor Robert Heath says the president's visit indicates the race is closer than previously thought.
"The fact that the President, in the midst of all the other important matters on his plate, is coming to town indicates that the pollsters think that it is close enough that a two or three or four percentage increase turnout that the President could generate can overcome the liability of the write-in campaign."
President Bush spent about 30 minutes addressing the crowd of supporters. He focused on key Republican platforms like No Child Left Behind, Border Security and the War on Terror, telling the assembly their votes for Sekula Gibbs would ensure the party maintains control of those issues.
"If you want more money in your pocket, vote Republican. And if you want a party who will take the steps necessary to protect you today and to protect the generation of Americans coming up, vote for Shelley and vote for Republicans. God bless, and God bless America."
A recent poll by Zogby International shows voters in District 22 are almost equally divided between Republican Sekula Gibbs and Democrat Nick Lampson. Heath says it's significant that the White House took notice of this race.
Nick Lampson's campaign issued a statement regarding the President's visit to SugarLand, saying "it's clear that the Republican party bosses in Texas-22 are getting desperate." President Bush has visited several districts across the country where the race between Democrats and Republicans is close. Laurie Johnson, Houston Public Radio News.