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Bush relatives use website to show support for Kerry

6 second cousins protest policies

SEATTLE -- Six blood relatives of President Bush who support John F. Kerry's bid for the presidency have launched a website to publicize their sharp disagreements with Bush's policies.

The site, www.bushrelativesforkerry.com, consists of personal statements from a group of decidedly liberal second cousins of the president, none of whom knows him personally. All are grandchildren of Mary Bush House, the sister of Prescott Bush, a former US senator from Connecticut and the father and grandfather of the two Bush presidents.

The introduction to the site opens with the slogan, ''Because blood is thicker than oil!" and states: ''As the election approaches, we feel it is our responsibility to speak out about why we are voting for John Kerry, and to do our small part to help America heal from the sickness it has suffered since George Bush was appointed President in 2000. We invite you to read our stories, and please, don't vote for our cousin!"

Hilary House, 39, a third-year law student at the University of Washington, put together the site with the participation of three of her six siblings: Sheila House, Tracy Cannon, and Chris House. The four are children of Mary Bush's son Francis House III, now deceased, who taught English at a prep school in Connecticut and was a first cousin of former president George H.W. Bush. Jeanny House and Henry Kimsey-House, two children of another of Mary's sons, James House, also provided pro-Kerry testimonials.

The website was put up independent of the Kerry campaign, Hilary House said, adding that an e-mail she sent to the campaign about a month ago had not been answered. Kerry campaign officials in Washington state and Washington, D.C., said they were unaware of the site.

Leah Yoon, spokeswoman for the Bush-Cheney campaign in Washington state, declined to comment about the site. ''They're entitled to their opinions as American citizens," said Yier Shi, a spokesman for the Republican National Committee

Hilary House said she got the idea for the site when she heard that Jeanny House, a pastor in Wisconsin, had briefly spoken to the Massachusetts senator at a Kerry event after he noticed her waving a ''Bush Relative for Kerry" sign. According to Hilary and her sister Sheila, 49, a mental health counselor in Harwich, Mass., when Jeanny explained the House family connection to the Bushes and said they were nonetheless enthusiastic about voting for Kerry, the Democratic nominee jokingly suggested they start a website.

Jeanny House declined to comment. In her statement on the site, she denounces what she describes as Bush's ''imperialist cabal" and stated that her understanding of Christianity, based on a concern for peace and social justice, was not compatible with the more conservative brand of Christianity embraced by the president.

All of the House family members writing on the site are sharply critical of the president. Hilary House said she did not feel comfortable telling friends and acquaintances of her family connection to the president, given his conservative views, until putting up the website, which was completed about a week ago. ''I was very quiet about my family relationship," she said. ''I was really, really embarrassed to be related to the president."

Personal ties between this generation of the House family and the Bush family are minimal. As the House children grew up in Windsor, Conn., the Bush family was reestablishing itself in Texas. Hilary House and her two cousins attended the 1989 inauguration of the current president's father, and met him at a private family luncheon there, according to Hilary House. Both Sheila and Chris House had met George H.W. Bush briefly when they were younger.

''I can't describe us as particularly close to the Bush family," said Sheila House. ''I've never met George W. Bush and don't particularly care to."

The previous generation of the House family was much closer to the Bushes.

Francis House was friendly with George Bush senior when they were growing up, his children said. Both attended Yale, as did the current President Bush. Though Francis House shared his family's decidedly liberal political views, he voted for Ronald Reagan after the elder Bush was selected as Reagan's vice-presidential nominee, and for his cousin during his successful 1988 presidential race.

''His family connections still tied him to the Republican Party," said Chris House, 36, a high school English teacher in Olympia, Wash. ''My dad at heart was a social liberal, but he was constantly pressured by his mom that you've got to vote along family lines."

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