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AMERICAN MOSAIC - Desert Beauty in Sedona, Arizona / Politically Active Musicians / Question from China About Presidential Campaign Costs - 2004-10-22


Broadcast: October 22, 2004

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DOUG JOHNSON: Welcome to AMERICAN MOSAIC, in VOA Special English.

This is Doug Johnson. On our show this week:

Music by musicians with a political goal this election year ...

A question from a listener about how much American presidential candidates spend on their campaigns ...

And a report about a popular vacation town in the American Southwest.

Sedona

The third presidential debate was held last week in Tempe, Arizona, near Phoenix. The southwestern state of Arizona is known for its beautiful red rock formations and the Grand Canyon. Between Phoenix and the Grand Canyon is a town of about ten thousand people called Sedona. Millions of people travel there each year. Bob Doughty tells us why.

BOB DOUGHTY: Sedona is a desert community about one thousand four hundred meters above sea level. Last year, USA Today newspaper named Sedona the most beautiful place in the United States. Some of the oldest rocks on Earth surround the area, called Red Rock Country. Each morning and night, the rock formations change colors. Light from the sun as it rises and sets causes the formations to change from yellow, to orange, to bright red, even purple. For visitors, one of the best ways to see this natural beauty is to ride jeep vehicles that can climb on the rocks.

Sedona is also famous for its growing arts community and Native American history. Hundreds of years ago, Native American Indians considered the Red Rocks holy. They traveled great distances to perform ceremonies on them. Only the bravest chiefs and medicine men were permitted to enter the rock formations.

Theodore Carl Schnebly named the town after his wife in nineteen-oh-two. At that time, six families lived in the area. The American movie industry has filmed hundreds of motion pictures and television shows in Sedona. The town’s natural beauty looks like no other place on Earth.

One of the first Hollywood movies to show Sedona was “The Call of the Canyon,” filmed in nineteen twenty-three. In nineteen forty-seven, the area became famous because of the film "Angel and the Badman” starring John Wayne. The next year, actor Robert Mitchum’s film, "Blood On The Moon", increased public interest in Sedona.

Today, about four million people visit Sedona each year. With that many travelers, you would think the town would be a busy place. But it is not. About half of the town is privately owned. The other half is part of the Coconino National Forest.

Cost of Elections

DOUG JOHNSON: Our listener question this week comes in an e-mail from Guangzhou, China. Vicky Mok asks how much will be spent on the presidential election this year and how the candidates pay for it.

The Federal Election Commission records how much money is spent on elections. Campaigns must keep detailed records and report them to the F.E.C.

The commission’s job is to enforce the Federal Election Campaign Act. Congress approved the law to stop wealthy individuals and groups from unfairly influencing elections. The act limits how much individuals and groups can give to candidates. Individual gifts to candidates are now limited to two thousand dollars.

A mix of private gifts and tax money pay for the primary campaigns and the presidential campaigns. Federal law bars companies, labor groups and foreign citizens from giving to campaigns. But political action groups, and state and local party committees can accept gifts from individuals and combine the money. They can give up to five thousand dollars of this money to candidates.

Every American who pays income tax can send three dollars to the Presidential Election Campaign Fund. This fund is used to help pay for political campaigns. It is also used to pay for the conventions of the major political parties and some of the convention costs of smaller parties. This year, the Presidential Election Campaign Fund provided about fifteen million dollars to help pay for the Democratic and Republican conventions.

The major party candidates – President George W. Bush and Senator John Kerry -- each received about seventy-five million dollars in federal matching funds.

The total amount spent on the two thousand four presidential election will not be known until the campaigns give their final reports for the year. But we can report the amount received by all the candidates up to August thirty-first -- about six hundred sixty-two million dollars.

But that amount does not include money given to groups not connected to the campaigns. These groups can spend money to influence the election for or against a candidate. And there are no limits on the amount individuals can give to these groups. A group called The Center for Public Integrity reports on spending by five of these groups. It says these groups had raised about three hundred twenty-three million dollars as of the beginning of October.

Vote for Change Tour

Some popular American musicians joined together in an effort to influence the presidential election this year. Bruce Springsteen, Bonnie Raitt, the Dixie Chicks, Pearl Jam and REM were some of the artists to join the “Vote for Change” tour. Gwen Outen tells us more.

GWEN OUTEN: About twenty musicians who support John Kerry for president traveled around the country for two weeks this month. They performed more than thirty concerts in nine states where the election is expected to be the closest.

The final show was October eleventh in Washington, D.C. It was broadcast live around the nation on radio, television and the Internet. During the show, John Fogerty performed his song, “Fortunate Son.”

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The MoveOn political organization presented the “Vote for Change” tour. The organization said it hoped to raise about ten million dollars. The money went to another political organization called America Coming Together. That group used the money to sign up new voters.

MoveOn says the “Vote for Change” tour was the first of its kind. It was the largest group of musicians to come together to try to influence an election. Other musical movements have raised money for social causes. For example, the yearly Farm Aid show raises money for American farmers.

Musicians supporting President Bush did not have a concert tour like the “Vote for Change” tour. However, many entertainers support the president. They include the Gatlin Brothers, Kid Rock, Sara Evans and Jessica Simpson. Many of them performed during the Republican National Convention in New York City this summer. Country singer Lee Ann Womack also supports the president. She sang this song, “I Hope You Dance,” at a gathering for President bush in Ohio.

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DOUG JOHNSON: This is Doug Johnson. Send your questions about American life to American Mosaic, VOA Special English, Washington, D.C., two-zero-two-three-seven, USA.

Or write to mosaic@voanews.com. Please include your full name and postal address. And you can also e-mail us a picture of yourself. It will appear at voaspecialenglish dot com if we use your question.

Our program was written by Jill Moss and Mario Ritter. Caty Weaver was our producer.

I hope you enjoyed AMERICAN MOSAIC. Join us again next week for VOA’s radio magazine in Special English.

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