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Bush will stay overnight in Jacksonville

President George Bush will stay overnight in Jacksonville Thursday after holding an afternoon rally at the Jackson County Expo to boost his chances of winning in this battleground state.

I'm blown away he's going to stay here, said Bryan Platt, chairman of the Jackson County Republican Central Committee.

The president's visit comes a day after his final debate with Democratic candidate Sen. John Kerry on Wednesday, and follows local rallies by Kerry in August and Vice President Dick Cheney in July.

Bush, who is expected to speak for up to an hour, last visited Jackson County in 2002.

Tracey Schmitt, regional spokewoman for the Bush/Cheney campaign, said, Oregon is a battleground state where our campaign has been bringing the message to every corner of the state.

— Southern Oregon is a Republican stronghold and will play a key role in determining who wins or loses the state. In Jackson County, 42 percent of voters are Republicans, compared to 34 percent Democrats, with the remainder being independents or other parties.

Schmitt said the exact location where Bush will be staying for the night has not been revealed for security reasons.

She said she didn't know whether he would hold any other meetings with Republican officials while he's staying in Jackson County.

Also, his schedule for Friday has not been announced yet, said Schmitt.

Platt said he's been asked to assemble a staff of 100 volunteers to work at the rally.

Tickets will be available to anyone who wants them, regardless of party affiliation, he said.

However, identifications will be required for each ticket distributed, except for the children of parents.

Each person has to come in person, said Platt.

Since rumors of the president's visit first began, Platt said the phone has been ringing nonstop at Republican headquarters.

It's just been a deluge, he said. We even had a home school group of 60 that wanted tickets.

The tickets only will be available at Republican Headquarters, 25 N. Holly St., Medford. The headquarters will be open from noon to 7 p.m. Saturday and Sunday, from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. Monday through Wednesday, and from 8 a.m. to noon Thursday.

Platt suggested that residents should not call the Republican Headquarters for more information about tickets. However, to get general information about Republican events, the number is 494-1103.

Bill Layton, chairman of the Jackson County Democratic Central Committee, said he didn't think the president's visit will make that much difference.

They're getting desperate, he said. Maybe they think they still have a chance here.

Layton said he believes many moderate Republicans would never express their opinions publicly but would choose to vote against Bush in the privacy of the voting booths.

Reach reporter Damian Mann at 776-4476, or e-mail