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Oxnard to Be Bush's 1st Stop in Visit to State

Campaign: GOP nominee will begin two-day swing with visit to heavily Democratic, primarily Latino city.


Republican presidential candidate George W. Bush will kick off a whistle-stop tour through California with a rally Wednesday at the Oxnard train depot.

The visit to the mostly Latino, Democratic stronghold--the start of a two-day swing along the coast and into Silicon Valley--continues a push by the nominee to reach out beyond his conservative base to areas that swing between Democrats and the GOP.

"He has said he wants to go to places Republicans usually don't go, and this proves he is a man of his word," said Glen Becerra, a Simi Valley city councilman and chairman of Bush's Ventura County campaign.

"Here's a man who is reaching out to all of America," Becerra added. "To have the next president of the United States kicking off his California campaign tour in Ventura County is just awesome."

While final details are still being worked out, Bush's campaign workers say he is expected to arrive in Oxnard between 10:30 and 11 a.m. and address hundreds of supporters at the downtown station, near the intersection of Oxnard Boulevard and Fourth Street.

Bush's Victory 2000 Express is then scheduled to chug out of the Oxnard depot around noon and head to Santa Maria, making several stops along the way.

Supporters say they believe Bush's California tour will build on the momentum he generated at last week's Republican convention, when the Texas governor delivered an acceptance speech designed to reach out to voters who don't traditionally side with the GOP.

"I'm excited that the first place in California he's coming to is Oxnard," said Assemblyman Tony Strickland (R-Thousand Oaks) of the candidate's appearance in his 37th District.

"That says a lot about the governor and the kind of leadership he's committed to," Strickland said. "It shows he's willing to fight for every single vote."

Bush isn't the first Republican presidential nominee to target Ventura County voters.

Republican presidential candidate Bob Dole stumped at a private Christian school in Ventura during his unsuccessful 1996 run against President Clinton.

And Dole's running mate, Jack Kemp, visited Ventura County several times. That included stops at Ventura City Hall, Thousand Oaks-based biotechnology giant Amgen Inc., and downtown Fillmore--where his wife, Fillmore native Joanne Kemp, celebrated her 61st birthday.

Bush also has been to Ventura County before.

Last November, he delivered a foreign-policy speech at the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library and Museum near Simi Valley. Becerra said he wasn't able to make that speech. But he said there's no way he's going to miss Wednesday's event.

"This is huge for our county," Becerra said. "We should all be extremely proud that a presidential candidate has put so much emphasis on our area."

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