Describing Lodi Station as something out of a Norman Rockwell painting, Republican presidential candidate George W. Bush has chosen Lodi as his "whistlestop" in San Joaquin County.
Bush, who may be accompanied by Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., is scheduled to arrive at Lodi Station on Thursday afternoon. He will give a speech at the Pine Street station and remain there for 45 minutes, said Carlos Tobar, Lodi's transportation manager.
"The Lodi area is a Republican area, and I'm delighted that he's chosen to stop in Lodi," Mayor Steve Mann said.
Bush chose a whistle-stop in Lodi rather than Stockton because of Lodi's hard work on transportation issues, Tobar said. Bush is impressed with the city's use of Lodi Station as a hub for transportation links.
Amtrak, Greyhound, GrapeLine, SMART and South (Sacramento) County Transit bus service are all centered at the station.
Bush campaign officials also cited Lodi's emphasis on using alternative fuels, which reduces the United States' dependence on foreign oil and Lodi's dependence on government subsidies, Tobar said.
Additionally, Bush officials are impressed with Lodi's farmers market, which will be taking place on School Street on Thursday night.
Assemblyman Anthony Pescetti, R-Rancho Cordova, plans to contact the principals of Lodi, Tokay and Bear Creek high schools, along with all school district superintendents in the 10th Assembly District about sending students to see Bush.
Exactly when Bush will arrive in Lodi remains to be determined. Rachel Otte, Pescetti's legislative director, said Bush is due about 3 p.m., while Mann said he thought Bush's arrival would be 4 to 4:30. However, Tobar said Bush is due to arrive between 5 and 5:30 p.m., with gates opening at 3 p.m.
But Otte said she thought Bush was arriving at 3, although she said Tobar may be right. Three o'clock may be the time gates open, Otte acknowledged.
"They're going to have to do the full security thing," Otte said.
Mann said the timing will be confirmed as the visit nears.
"Typically, as these things go, they give you a pretty big window," he said. "I'm sure that come Wednesday, the time will be a lot firmer."
Mann said he will spend some time talking to City Council members and staff about what kind of city-related gift would be appropriate for Bush to remember Lodi by.
"And if Gore comes to town, we'll do the same for him," Mann said.
Because of the large crowd expected - people will be coming from Stockton and Sacramento - Tobar is asking everyone to take public transit.
"If at all possible, leave your car at home," Tobar said.
Those in the western end of town should drive to somewhere like Mervyn's, Target or Wal-Mart on West Kettleman Lane where they can pick up a GrapeLine bus to Lodi Station, Tobar said.
Elderly people who need Dial-a-Ride service should make their reservations Tuesday morning, he said. To sign up for Dial-a-Ride, call (209) 333-6806.
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