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    Governor to speak at rally for troops

    Clearwater readies for a crowd of thousands as one of the ''Rallies for America'' comes to Coachman Park.

    By MIKE BRASSFIELD, Times Staff Writer
    © St. Petersburg Times
    published April 4, 2003


    With American soldiers on the threshold of Baghdad, several thousand Tampa Bay area residents are expected to show their support for the troops at a rally Saturday morning in Clearwater's Coachman Park.

    Gov. Jeb Bush will be one of several speakers during the event, which will run from 10 a.m. to noon. It also will feature patriotic music and tributes to soldiers and their families.

    This is one of a series of "Rallies for America" that have been held around the country, spearheaded by nationally syndicated radio talk show host Glenn Beck, who got his start in the Tampa Bay area.

    Some of Beck's rallies have drawn large crowds; about 25,000 attended in Atlanta a few weeks ago. It's hard to predict how many people might show up in Clearwater.

    "Anywhere between 500 and 20,000," Beck joked Thursday. "I have no clue."

    The city of Clearwater will be prepared for a sizable crowd, officials said.

    "I think our biggest problem will be the sheer number of people and cars, but we don't anticipate any trouble," said Clearwater police spokesman Wayne Shelor."

    The lineup for the rally includes singer Belinda Womack, a local gospel choir, Clearwater Mayor Brian Aungst and Bush.

    "The governor is showing that he's proud of the fact that Florida supports the president and our men and women in uniform," said Bush spokeswoman Alia Faraj.

    Beck, a passionately conservative radio host, will deliver a keynote address. Also speaking will be retired Air Force Col. John T. Carney Jr., president of the Special Operations Warrior Foundation, which pays for college for children who have lost a parent during a special operations mission.

    A couple of smaller pro-troops and antiwar demonstrations are planned in Pinellas County this weekend.

    A flag-waving "pro-America rally" will be held at 1 p.m. Sunday at 49th Street N and Ulmerton Road. Organizer Kellie Carollo, owner of the nearby Kellie's Kitchen restaurant, expects perhaps 50 people to show up.

    In addition, an antiwar protest will take place from 4 to 6 p.m. Saturday outside the BayWalk complex in downtown St. Petersburg.

    Roughly 150 peace protesters have been gathering there every Saturday and say they'll continue to do so. They say they support the troops, but they believe this war is a tragic mistake.

    "We're not going away," said protest organizer Chris Ernesto.

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