N.M. GOP Requiring Pledge for Event Tickets

Republicans in New Mexico (search) say they will keep asking some people who want to attend Bush-Cheney campaign events to sign an endorsement pledge before receiving tickets.

"If we feel our event will get disrupted again, we will use the same method to make sure it's a positive event," Republican Party spokesman Yier Shi said Thursday, defining positive as "without interruption, without debate — just [without] disruption, period."

Shi said the GOP campaign plans to correct errors and omissions in the pledge: "I ... herby (sic) endorse George W. Bush for reelection of the United States." Besides correcting the spelling of hereby, it will make clear what office Bush is running for, Shi said.

Last week, some Democrats who signed up to hear Vice President Dick Cheney (search) speak Saturday in this town near Albuquerque were refused tickets unless they signed a pledge to endorse President Bush. The Bush campaign described the measure as a security step designed to avoid a disruption it contended had been planned by anti-Bush activists.

The Kerry campaign and an anti-Bush group, America Coming Together (search), denied it planned any disruptive protests.

Bush campaign spokesman Dan Foley said people calling for tickets from an ACT telephone line underwent screening. Others seeking to attend the speech but giving false names were denied tickets, Foley said.

A representative for ACT, Courtney Hunter, responded: "To the best of our knowledge, no one called from our office misrepresenting themselves. These types of evasive tactics are occurring all over the county as the Bush-Cheney campaign refuses to allow Americans into their events."

Two men who had sought tickets were presented the endorsement pledge when they picked up their tickets two days before the event. One of them, John Wade of Albuquerque, said he signed the pledge but then changed his mind. He returned the tickets and took back the pledge, he said.

"I got to thinking this is not right," Wade said. "They're excluding people — that's what has me so upset."

The other man, Michael Ortiz y Pino, said he refused to sign the pledge and was refused tickets. He said he was asked if he associated with veterans, pro-life, gun rights or teacher groups and was asked for his driver's license number, told it was for "Secret Service stuff."

Kerry campaign spokesman Ruben Pulido Jr. said the Kerry campaign had not attempted to screen Bush supporters out of Kerry's appearance at the National Hispanic Cultural Center in Albuquerque in July. About a dozen Bush supporters attended, waving flip-flop beach sandals over their heads and chanting "Viva Bush."