Park City, get ready for the president
President Bush may visit Park City later in May to raise money for John McCain, the presumptive Republican presidential nominee, Salt Lake media reports indicate.
The White House on Tuesday declined to confirm the trip to Park City, saying the president’s schedule had not been set that far in advance. It would be Bush’s first trip to Park City during his presidency. He has traveled to Utah on several occasions, including to open the 2002 Winter Olympics and to address a veterans convention.
Bush would be the second consecutive president to travel to Park City, following two ski vacations during the Clinton administration.
Park City officials by Tuesday morning had not been told of the trip.
"I would imagine in a state that is so predominantly Republican, the potential is there for Senator McCain to raise some money, a substantial amount of money," Mayor Dana Williams said.
Park City has a long tradition of supporting Democrats, but Williams said Republicans are gaining ground in the city.
Mel Brown, the Republican state legislator from Hoytsville who represents Park City at the Statehouse, said the fundraiser will "probably" be successful. He said people from across party lines should respect Bush when he arrives.
"I think there’s a base of good solid Republican people in Park City that will probably welcome him," Brown, who had not been informed of the trip through midmorning Tuesday, said.
Brown said he has met Bush twice, once while he was the governor of Texas and once while he was in his first presidential campaign. Brown supports McCain’s candidacy.
Rick Ryan, a Park City Police Department captain, said he would expect White House trip planners to contact the police three or four days before the visit. He said police officers would assist the Secret Service if requested.
"This is not the first time we’ve had a sitting president here," Ryan said, referring to the Clinton ski vacations during the former president’s second term.
Police officers assisted Secret Service agents controlling crowds on Main Street during outings by the president. Ryan said the upcoming Bush trip will likely be different because the president is visiting for a fundraiser.
"Clinton was here for vacation, and this one apparently is going to be for business," Ryan said, adding, "I think, for the most part, these events are held out of the public eye."
Demonstrators mobilized when Bush visited Salt Lake City for the veterans convention, with Parkites joining people from elsewhere in Utah to mark the visit.
Rich Wyman, a leader in the Park City peace movement and a detractor of the president, said on Tuesday he will organize a demonstration when Bush visits, but he did not provide details.
He recently held a dramatic protest in which he submitted to a mock waterboarding, the controversial torture technique, and he has led numerous demonstrations since before the U.S.-led invasion of Iraq.
"There needs to be something so we can show a presence when Bush is here. I think it’s important to have that," Wyman said.
Bush’s visit would continue a parade of top-shelf political stops in Park City for fundraising events, following earlier trips by Barack Obama and Rudy Giuliani. Mitt Romney, a Park City homeowner, frequently visits.
Deer Valley Resort hired Jamo O’Reilly as the director of lodging operations to oversee its more than 450 residences.