Saturday, October 22, 2005

The Citizens Voice - News - 10/21/2005 - Scandal Plagued Cheney Draws Very Small Crowd for Santorum

The Citizens Voice - News - 10/21/2005 - Cheney stumping for Santorum: "You're out of luck if you want to lunch with Vice President Dick Cheney today.

The reservation should have been in the mail already, the guest list was quite small, and Cheney has no other stops planned in the region.
Cheney is appearing at a private campaign fundraiser in Jackson Township for U.S. Sen. Rick Santorum. Cost to attend is $1,000 per person, while supporters who contribute $5,000 can get their picture taken with the vice president.
"The vice president looks forward to visiting Pennsylvania," said Jennifer Mayfield, deputy press security for the vice president's office. "He is pleased to support Sen. Santorum's re-election campaign."
Few others would comment about Cheney's visit, citing security concerns. Details of his schedule in Northeastern Pennsylvania also were kept under wraps.
A source within the Luzerne County Republican Party, who only spoke on condition of anonymity, said the vice president was scheduled to meet with a group of about 30 community and business leaders before his fundraising luncheon at the Jackson Township home of Ron and Rhea Simms. About 70 to 100 people are expected to attend.
Santorum's press secretary Robert Traynham would only confirm a fundraiser is being held today. He couldn't say if Cheney would be there.
Wilkes-Barre/Scranton International Airport Director Barry Centini didn't know when the vice president would arrive at the airport but said a member of his staff was in communication with the Secret Service. The airport was not expected to close, but Centini said there could be some airspace restrictions.
Jackson Township police are assisting with security but are not allowed to comment, directing inquiries to state police at Wyoming. A spokesman for the Wyoming Barracks was unavailable Thursday.
Neither Ron Simms, chief executive officer of Petroleum Service Co. in Wilkes-Barre, nor Rhea Simms, president of Lewith & Freeman Real Estate, returned calls for comment about their involvement in the luncheon.
Wilkes-Barre Attorney Greg Fellerman, chairman of the Luzerne County Democratic Party's Sixth District, isn't on the guest list but appreciates all of the security and precautions that are taken when high-ranking official travel.
Fellerman's office played host to vice presidential candidate John Edwards during a Kerry/Edwards campaign stop before the November 2004 presidential election.
"It was insane," Fellerman said.
Secret Service agents were scouring his office days before the event, checking out all of his employees and anyone who planned to come into the office during Edwards' brief stay there.
"They literally staged it minute by minute what was going to happen," he said. "In essence, they shut my office down for two days."
He wouldn't have traded the experience, though.
"From my standpoint, it was a once in a lifetime opportunity to have a national candidate in our office a few weeks before the election."
Santorum's fundraiser reportedly is one of two on Cheney's list today. A published report indicated Cheney would be attending a dinner fundraiser for Missouri Sen. Jim Talent tonight.
Though Santorum is not up for re-election until next year, he's expected to face a stiff challenge from state Treasurer Robert Casey Jr. of Scranton.

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James Conmy and Elizabeth Skrapits, staff writers, contributed to this report.

tgulla@citizensvoice.com"

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