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President greets Florida ball revelers - briefly

By ANITA KUMAR, Times Staff Writer
Published January 21, 2005

WASHINGTON - It took some doing to attend Florida's Liberty Ball. With roads closed and taxis hard to come by, thousands of women in floor-length gowns and men in tuxedos crammed the subway with commuters headed home from work to ride to Chinatown.

From the subway, it was a four-block walk to the Washington Convention Center.

Inside, a cavernous room was decorated with signs marking the Florida theme for the evening: Celebrating Freedom and Honoring Service. Holding court was Gov. Jeb Bush, signing autographs and posing for photos. His superstar son, George P. Bush, worked the room.

Vice President Dick Cheney and his wife, Lynne, stopped by for a few minutes. About a half hour later, the headliners arrived.

"Thank you all," President Bush began, before he was interrupted by chants of, "Four more years."

"Four more years," he answered. "One main reason is because of Florida. ... I am lucky I have such a fabulous brother who is governor of the great state of Florida. I mostly want to thank you all for coming and giving Laura and I a chance to serve for four more years."

Jeb Bush and his wife, Columba, joined the president and Laura on stage for a dance to I Could Have Danced All Night.

They did not dance all night. Less than 10 minutes after arriving, the president waved, Laura blew kisses, and they were off.

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