President's 'Conversations' on Issue Are Carefully Orchestrated, Rehearsed

Hmmm, sounds an awful lot like his other campaigns...

MEMPHIS, March 11 -- It sounded as if all of Graceland were clamoring for President Bush's plan to restructure Social Security.

The mostly white audience in this mostly black southern city clapped wildly as Bush took what he called the "presidential roadshow" to its 14th state Friday. He was greeted like Elvis -- adoring fans hooting and hollering, and hanging on his every word.

The few dissenting voices in the Cannon Center for the Performing Arts were quickly silenced or escorted out by security. One woman with a soft voice but firm opposition to Bush was asked to leave, even though her protests were barely audible beyond her section in the back corner of the auditorium. The carefully screened panelists spoke admiringly about Bush, his ideas, his "bold" leadership on Social Security.

If the presentations sound well rehearsed, it's because they often are. The guests at these "Oprah"-style conversations trumpet the very points Bush wants to make. Seniors on stage express confidence that Bush's plan to create private investment accounts would not eat into promised benefits, and the granddaughter of one spoke hopefully on Friday of a richer retirement if the president prevails.

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