Bush asks nation to seek ‘common good’
By PAUL M. KRAWZAK
Repository Washington correspondent
WASHINGTON — Donald and Dorothy Hager staked out a spot in the mud three hours early to wait for the swearing-in of George W. Bush on Saturday.
When the moment finally arrived, they were so far away — more than a football field’s length from the inauguration stand — that they could barely see the event.
But the North Canton couple came away from the experience moved, they said.
‘‘It’s something I’ve always wanted to do,’’ said Dorothy Hager, a nurse and a longtime Republican election judge who has been to Washington before but never to an inauguration.
She was almost overcome after seeing ‘‘all the people there and all the enthusiasm even though it was rainy and cold,’’ she said.
James Matty of Doylestown, who went with his sister and parents, was struck by how well behaved and quiet the crowd was during the ceremony.
‘‘There wasn’t a person talking. Nobody moved. You really felt a sense of awe,’’ said Matty, a student attending Ohio State University. In fact, when someone nearby began talking on a cell phone during the swearing-in, a woman told the man to ‘‘shut up’’ and he quickly turned off the phone, Matty said.
Timothy P. Smucker of Orrville, chairman of Ohio-based J.M. Smucker Co., called the swearing-in ‘‘an inspiring experience.’’ A delegate to the GOP national convention last summer and a financial contributor to the Bush campaign, Smucker was impressed by the new president’s speech because ‘‘he reached out to citizens,’’ he said.
Rep. Ralph Regula, R-Bethlehem, offered a similar assessment. ‘‘It was a reach-out speech,’’ he said. ‘‘It was clear that he was trying to pull the country together.’’
Bush, he added, ‘‘will be what he seems he is: a compassionate conservative. I think his politics will fit that mold. I’ll be funding the things that he’s talking about,’’ said Regula, who will influence congressional spending as chairman of a key appropriations subcommittee.
While the swearing-in was the high point for many, it was just one of several events attended by more than 20 visitors from the Stark County area and more than 1,000 from the entire state.
An estimated 5,000 people, including Gov. Bob Taft and his wife Hope, donned formal wear for the $125 per ticket Ohio ball, one of eight official balls visited by the first couple and Vice President Dick Cheney and his wife Saturday night.
Earlier Saturday, Ohioans scrambled out of bed for a breakfast hosted by Taft at the Hyatt Hotel in Arlington, Va., where much of the Ohio contingent stayed.
The dance floor was jammed at an Ohio GOP-sponsored party Friday night, which drew lawmakers, Timken Co. executive and Bush administration hopeful Stephen Perry, and others.
Getting tickets to events was a challenge for many, including Dorothy Hager, who telephoned Regula’s office as soon as she heard Bush had been declared winner of the contested election in Florida to get tickets to the swearing-in.
Unable, however, to get tickets to the Ohio ball, she found two available for another ball held at the Library of Congress, she said.
Larry Foster of Plain Township still was looking for a ticket to the swearing-in hours before it was set to begin. Foster said while this is the first inauguration he has attended, ‘‘hopefully there are many more to