GOP says Bush victor

Jackson Bell

After the first round of verbal sparring between presidential

hopefuls came to a close Thursday night, many area Republicans

remained as committed as ever to their choice of President George W.

Bush, the man they consider a "strong, resolute leader."

About a dozen conservatives gathered over nachos and drinks at the

Burbank Bar & Grill to watch the televised showdown between Bush and

Democratic nominee John Kerry. Their general opinion at the end of

the 90-minute debate was the same as before it started -- that the

president is steadfast and resolute, and Kerry is indecisive and

unfit for commander in chief.

"I thought Bush wins this easily because Kerry is all over the

place," said Michael Bond, 55, of Burbank. "[Kerry] tries to say that

he is not inconsistent, but he voted for the war then is now saying

we're not doing it right."

"He's a flip-flopper, plain and simple," added Bond, a former

News-Press columnist.

Even self-described "converted Democrats" came out for Bush. Tal

Liebrecht, 25, of Encino said he voted for former presidential

candidate Al Gore in 2000, but switched his support for Bush after

the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks.

"I have yet to see an Iraq plan from Kerry," he said. "I have no

idea what it is other than not being Bush's."

Rep. David Dreier (R-La Crescenta) said Bush came off as steadfast

and resolute -- the qualities Americans want in a leader.

"The president provided what to me was a very crisp and clear

presentation," Dreier said by phone. "Kerry was crisp, too, but the

president said it best when he said that we can't lead the world with

mixed messages."

At least one Republican in attendance was left scratching her head

after Bush's comments. Vondra C. Porter, 38, of Burbank said she is

now uncertain of her choice for president.

"I think Americans wanted to hear more about [Osama] bin Laden,

and Bush didn't elaborate on that," Porter said. "He didn't answer

questions on that. He just went around it."

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