(Clive, IA) The George W. Bush Exploratory Committee campaign office in Iowa officially opened Friday — eight days before the Texas Governor is scheduled to make his first campaign tour of the state.

“Isn’t it great to be a republican,” Wisconsin Governor Tommy Thompson said to the crowd of over 100, including 35 Wisconsonites who rode a bus to the event.

Thompson served as the main draw for the gathering and he gave a 15 minute stump speech.

“People ask me why are you supporting George W. Bush?’ I support George W. Bush because he is the best candidate. He is the candidate who’s going to deliver,” Thompson said to applause.

Thomson said Bush has a record of success as Texas Governor, including giving Texans nearly $3 Billion worth of tax cuts.

“You talk to people all over this country, they’re thirsting for leadership. They want somebody to go to Washington and restore the values of this democracy. They want somebody to go to Washington that’s gonna lead and be able to develop the economy, improve the educational system, bring us all together, inclusively, all as Americans,” Thompason said.

Friday’s event featured free hot dogs, chips, cookies and drinks for volunteers and on-lookers, but the barbeque was moved from an outdoor parking lot to an empty room in the campaign office as a downpour, complete with lightning, erupted shortly before noon.

During the main speech, Thompson’s biggest applause getter was a taut at President Clinton.

“(Bush)’s charismata. He’s got a wonderful mother and father and he’s able to tell the truth, you know, something a little basic like that,” Thompson said.

Thompson characterized the democratic party’s front-runner, Al Gore, as “a big yawn.”

In advance of Thompson’s “pro-Bush” visit, staff in other republican campaigns and from the Democratic National Committee circulated a quote from Thompson in which the Wisconsin Governor reportedly said of Bush “he hasn’t really done much as Governor in regards of doing anything new or innovative.”

“Maybe someone could ask (Thompson) if he can name something new or innovative that Bush will bring to the White House!” said Lamar Alexander’s Iowa campaign manager, David Kochel, in an e-mail message.