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Bush's visit sparks discussion

The people at On Top of the World were talking about all the major issues Saturday: the economy, the trade agreement and the first lady's cookie recipe.

About 900 residents of the massive condominium community showed up for President Bush's visit to Clearwater, part of a total crowd of about 1,200.

Many came to express support, some came to figure out whether to vote for Bush, and some came simply because the nation's leader had arrived at their home.

"I'm 78 years old, and it's the first president I've ever seen," said Ed Evans, who has lived at On Top of the World for eight years. The speech impressed him.

"I like the fact that he's trying to get the country out of control of the politicians and back into the hands of the people."

For other residents like Shirley Rice, 72, there is no question that Bush is the best candidate.

"I'm a World War II woman veteran. I'm for my country. It comes first. In my mind, Bush is the only one.

"I would be scared to death to vote for anyone else in these times."

Mildred Mitchell said, "I like his values. I like what he's done for this country."

Incidentally, she also likes Barbara Bush's cookie recipe. When she tried a Clinton family cookie recipe, "They ran all over the pan, they were messy and they were not as good."

Rose Demarco, 78, also favors Bush. "And I like (Dan) Quayle. I think he had some good points about, what was it, that Murphy?"

She agrees with the vice president's criticism about the television character Murphy Brown, because people ought to get married before they have babies. "I think if they don't, they all will go on welfare. And we're all tired of paying taxes for them."

But Bush didn't satisfy everyone's concerns.

"There's one thing that really bothers me, and I think it's going to hurt the president," said Helene Parker, 72. She is concerned that the trade agreement recently negotiated with Mexico may result in many jobs going to that country. Although she voted for Bush in 1988, she's not sure who to vote for now.

"I don't like it, and I have a lot of friends that don't like it," Mrs. Parker said about the trade agreement.

Al Brose, 72, was skeptical after hearing Bush's speech. He thought the president's talk was "a good political speech." But he wasn't sure the president could deliver what he promised. "He hasn't done it in four years. I don't see how he can do it in four more years."

Nonetheless, he considered it an honor that the president visited his community.

"It makes us feel like we're kind of important," Brose said.

Many said it was their first chance to see a president. For some, it was par for the course. Herb and Dottie Abrams, who spent 20 years working for the government in Washington, have seen every president since Lyndon B. Johnson. Others remembered candidates they have seen in the past.

"I saw Wendell Willkie and Thomas Dewey, many moons ago," Mrs. Mitchell said.