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Bush's Republican foes face tough test

If you think Democrats face a difficult task in unseating President Bush, try putting yourself in the shoes of his little-known Republican challengers.
/ Source: Reuters

If you think Democrats face a difficult task in unseating President Bush, try putting yourself in the shoes of his little-known Republican challengers.

With the media focused on which Democrat will ultimately face Bush and his ever-growing campaign war chest, scant attention has been paid to the few Republicans also in the race to eject Bush from the White House.

In New Hampshire, home to the first state primary of the 2004 presidential campaign, about a dozen people have paid the $1,000 filing fee to have their names listed along with Bush on the Republican primary ballot.

Among those daring to challenge the president is Millie Howard, a silver-haired mother of four from Ohio who wants to confer U.S. citizenship only on those born in the United States -- with certain exceptions -- and who wants to abolish the Internal Revenue Service.

$75 million demand
Howard also wants to ban all government subsidies, although she is demanding $1 from 75 million Americans so she can finance her run for president.

“When $75,000,000 is collected, no matter how short or long a time it may be, I shall quit my job, hire a campaign manager and hit the road,” she says on her Web site.

Also in the race is Blake Ashby, an entrepreneur and self-described moderate Republican from St. Louis, Missouri, who values free markets and free trade.

“This administration has abandoned these economic values for short-term political gain,” Ashby says. “I am running because the extreme social conservatives are taking over this party and it is time for freedom-loving moderates to take it back.”

At the other end of the free-trade spectrum is John D. Rigazio, a businessman from Rochester, New Hampshire, who wants to take America out of the World Trade Organization.

'The shoe industry is gone'
“The shoe industry is gone, the textile industry is gone, and even as I speak they’re teaching people in India how to take our white-collar jobs,” Rigazio, 72, told Reuters.

The former Army infantryman has no illusions about beating Bush, whom he calls a “deficit king.” But he is optimistic that his message is being heard and he is aiming for 10 percent of the Republican vote.

“Naturally Bush is going to win the primary vote,” said Rigazio, who expects to spend some $200,000 of his own money by the time New Hampshire voters go to the polls on Jan. 27.

“However, if you’re not happy with Bush and his deficit and his lack of protecting jobs, then vote for me,” he added. “A vote for John Donald Rigazio will not be a wasted vote.”