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Bush's Campaign Trail Runs Through the Triangle

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RALEIGH — The leading contender for the Republican nomination for President was in North Carolina Thursday.

WRAL had a one-on-one interview with George W. Bush and discussed some issues near and dear to North Carolina.

Bush hopes to sway Tar Heel voters who may be leaning toward native Elizabeth Dole.

"Big Tobacco" is among the industries making the push for Bush. He has accepted contributions from more than a dozen tobacco executives.

He did not take any tobacco money from executives or PACs during his two runs for governor in Texas.

"I think everybody ought to be allowed to participate in the course of a campaign. I think if somebody wants to participate in my campaign as an individual, they are more than willing to do so. I've been humbled and proud of the outpouring of support," said Bush.

In turn, Bush would support an end to a federal lawsuit against Big Tobacco designed to recover government spending on sick smokers.

"The question is 'When is enough, enough?' We've had lawsuits at the state level, the State of Texas for example settled a lawsuit. All the states have received settlement from the tobacco companies, and it seems like that should be enough," said Bush.

Another question on the minds of North Carolinians is whether or not Bush would welcome Tar Heel native Elizabeth Dole as his running mate.

"It's a little presumptuous for a fellow who hasn't earned his party's nomination to be talking about the vice presidency. I will tell you this. I respect her a lot. I'm proud that she is running. I take her very seriously because she is a formidable opponent. When the dust settles and the party determines who the nominee is, that's the appropriate time to start speculating about vice presidents," said Bush.

The North Carolina Alliance for Democracy says it will be holding a protest Thursday outside the Bush fund-raiser.

It says it is fed up with big money buying elections. Bush has already raised well over $37 million for his presidential campaign.

Not to be out-done, Dole has scheduled another campaign stop in North Carolina.

The Salisbury native is planning a trip to Fayetteville on Sept. 27. Dole will attend a fund-raiser, but the final details have not been resolved.


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