Throngs of supporters roared their approval as President Bush arrived to deliver a commencement address at Furman University, near Greenville, S.C., on Saturday, The Greenville News reported.
Both supporters and protesters of Mr. Bush’s visit had pressed petition campaigns in the weeks before the commencement. But “civility and warmth” reigned at Saturday’s event, the newspaper reported, with only a few graduating seniors and faculty members wearing white armbands as signs of protest of the president’s policies. Several faculty members did not stand when Mr. Bush was introduced, however, and about 14 wore white “We Object” T-shirts and stood behind their seated colleagues.
In his 18-minute speech, Mr. Bush exhorted the graduates to adopt “a culture of responsibility” toward civic life, their families, and themselves. In his closest reference to the opposition to his visit from some faculty members, students, and off-campus antiwar groups, the president said he had had his “fair share of critics,” the News reported, but he added that “no criticism can overcome the satisfaction of serving your fellow citizens and pursuing great goals for your country.”
He also used self-deprecating humor, reminding the crowd that his father had also given a commencement address at Furman, 25 years earlier. “This means that some at Furman will have heard graduation speeches from two generations of Bushes,” he said, according to a text of his speech. “This is a great step forward for the Bush family, and a great step backward for your English department.” —Charles Huckabee
(This article was updated at 7:30 a.m. on Sunday.)