Seems he has cornered that all important Amish vote.
Bush meets with Amish group
during July campaign stop
By Jack Brubaker
Lancaster New Era
LANCASTER, Pa. — President Bush met privately with a group of Old Order Amish during a campaign visit to Lancaster County on July 9. He discussed their farms and their hats and his religion, and got a pledge for prayers, if not votes.
A member of the group told Bush that since most Amish do not vote, they would pray for him instead.
Bush had tears in his eyes when he replied, according to an Amishman who was present. Bush reportedly said he needs the prayers of the Amish and that having a strong belief in God is the only way he can do his job.
Sam Stoltzfus of Gordonville, an Old Order historian, writer and curator of the Pequea Bruderschaft Library, recounted the private meeting with the president, saying the Amish “caught Bush’s heart.’’
The 20-minute meeting occurred after the president addressed an audience at Lapp Electric Service in Smoketown.
An Amish woman who lives on a farm across from Lapp Electric had presented a quilt to the president that morning, along with a card thanking him for his leadership of the country.
Bush said he would like to talk to the quilter and her family.
The Secret Service invited the family to meet the president. Friends wanted to come along, too, and the entire assembly eventually numbered about 60, evenly divided between adults and children of all ages.
“It took a while to get them through the metal detectors, as these were farmers and shop men, with vise-grips, pocket knives and nuts and bolts in their pockets,” Stoltzfus said. “Some ladies had baby gear. All pockets had to be emptied.”
When the Amish were “found not to be a serious threat to national security,” Stoltzfus said, they were allowed inside the office area of Lapp Electric and waited about 30 minutes for the president to appear.
“Babies got restless,” Stoltzfus said of the wait. “Children squirmed.”
Then the moment came.
“Suddenly the president and five Secret Service men stepped into the room,” Stoltzfus said. “One housewife said, ‘Are you George Bush?’ ”
The president replied in the affirmative and shook hands all around, asking the names of each person. He especially thanked the “quilt frau,” who operates her own business selling quilts and crafts.
“He seemed relaxed and just like an old neighbor,” said Stoltzfus.
Bush said he had never met any Amish before and was curious about why the men were wearing straw hats instead of black wool hats. The Amish explained that they wear cooler straw in summer.
Bush tried one on.
The president also commented on the appearance of Amish farms, and an Amishman spoke apologetically about how he and his friends were not expecting to see the president and were wearing soiled work clothes. Bush said he did not mind that, according to Stoltzfus.
Another man remarked that he has twin daughters, as does Bush. The man said one of his twins had dreamed the night before that she was shaking hands with the president and now she actually had done that.
“One of the young girls wanted to give Bush a whoopie pie cookie,” Stoltzfus said. “Bush declined it. The Secret Service man took it, as presidents aren’t supposed to eat untested food.”
At the end of the session, Bush reportedly told the group, “I trust God speaks through me. Without that, I couldn’t do my job.”
As the president left the room, one Amish man wished him good luck in November.
“The Amish group headed back to their farms and shops,” Stoltzfus said. “Mothers took their children home for a nap and went back to their sewing and gardens.”
Bush then moved on to an appearance in York County, leaving behind a group of Old Order admirers who will have tales to tell for the rest of their lives.