LEWISTON – As more than 2,000 people lined up Sunday to hear vice presidential candidate John Edwards, Geoff Abbott stood across the street and held a sign for his candidate.

The Bates College freshman had been home – in New York City – during the 9/11 attacks. And he credits President Bush with his hometown’s survival.

“He’s done so much for my city,” said Abbott, a member of his school’s College Republicans. He he faced his Bush-Cheney sign toward the Kerry crowd and stood resolutely.

“He’s done so much for my country,” Abbott said. “I felt I had to do what I could.”

He was joined by more than two dozen fellow students and another 20 or so campaign volunteers. They held homemade posters and glossy campaign signs. One brought a cardboard image of the president and taunted the Kerry supporters.

“Take your picture with the president!” he jeered.

His taunts were returned.

Separated only by the width of Central Avenue, the two groups shouted back and forth, cheering as drivers waved and more people arrived.

When a man crossed the street carrying a “Bush Must Go” sign, the Kerry supporters erupted. They cheered “Two more months!” and “Bush on his tush!”

They also invited the protesters to come on inside.

“Come and listen to what John Edwards has to say!” shouted Jim Hewey of Lisbon Falls. “We don’t keep anybody out.”

The remark was meant to reply to charges that Bush-Cheney campaign events have excluded all but the president’s supporters. Hewey, who wore a union T-shirt, said he’d welcome the protesters.

“Why not?” he asked. “This is a democracy.”

Police Lt. Thomas Avery later said that while the protesters were vocal, they were largely well-behaved.

“We made no arrests,” he said.

Police had five officers from the day shift work late, he said, and called in some night shift officers early as well to handle to protests and provide security for Edwards’ visit.

Sun Journal staff writer Doug Fletcher contributed to this report.

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