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Inside Politics

Republicans in a New York state of mind

Bloomberg, Pataki welcome delegates on convention's eve


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NEW YORK (CNN) -- The day before the curtain was to be raised for a week of well-practiced political theater, Republican National Convention delegates flocked Sunday to New York's Great White Way for a taste of a different kind of theater.

Mayor Michael Bloomberg and Gov. George Pataki welcomed delegates who were planning to attend eight musicals Sunday, including "Aida," "The Lion King" and "42nd Street."

"For the next four days, the eyes of the world really will be focused on New York City," Bloomberg said. "This is a unique opportunity for New York to show the world just how far we've come since 9/11."

But it was protesters who took center stage Sunday as they marched through Manhattan in a demonstration sponsored by United for Peace and Justice, a group opposed to the U.S.-led war in Iraq.

March organizers said they estimated the crowd size at more than 400,000. Police did not give a crowd estimate.

Bloomberg said, "United for Peace and Justice has behaved responsibly, as have virtually all of the marchers.

"We will enforce the law, but I think what you are seeing here in this city [is] everybody having the opportunity to say what they want to say, and they are doing it in nice ways, and I think that's the way to get your message out effectively."

Pataki said he's confident New York City is prepared to handle possible terrorist threats and large crowds of protesters this week.

Pataki said on ABC's "This Week with George Stephanopoulos" that "We've been planning the security for this convention, federal officials, state officials, and the city, which, of course, has the finest Police Department in the world, for over a year, and now we're implementing those plans."

The weekend arrest of two men accused of plotting a subway bombing in the city did not undermine his surety, Pataki said.

"We got them before they had even had the chance to try to purchase munitions, which shows how effective our efforts to go after them [have] been."

Pataki added, "This police force knows how to treat people with respect when they're simply trying to exercise freedom of speech. But they also know how to arrest people if they're going to break the law and try to disrupt others' ability to engage in their freedom of speech. So I think we're going to see it very well-handled."

Giuliani opposes parts of platform

On the eve of a prime-time speech aimed at kicking the Republican National Convention into gear, former New York Mayor Rudolph Giuliani said Sunday that he opposes portions of the party platform drawn up last week.

"I agree with the core philosophy of the party the way I define it," Giuliani said on NBC's "Meet the Press."

It calls for a constitutional amendment banning abortion and the appointment of judges who oppose abortion rights; Giuliani said he's against those positions.

The platform rejects not only same-sex marriage, but also benefits for same-sex couples. Giuliani said he supports civil unions for same-sex couples.

The platform rejects Giuliani's position that licenses should be required for gun-owners.

And though Giuliani praised Bush for being the first president to put federal funds into stem-cell research, he said he supports broader research than Bush does.

Three years ago, the president announced that federal funding would be limited to research on existing "lines" of embryonic stem cells, which could potentially be used to treat a variety of illnesses. Some critics call the limit too restrictive, as it cuts off federal funding from private research on other stem cell lines.

"I'm a very loyal Republican," Giuliani said. "I'm very, very close to the president. It doesn't mean that I'm in total agreement with every single policy of the party or every single policy.

"The largest part of this platform," he added, "is about the thing that I think is the most important thing to this country, which is defending America, carrying on the war against terrorism without significant steps back in the direction of only playing defense."

Democrats have criticized the Republican conference for scheduling prime-time speakers such as Pataki, Giuliani and California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger, who, they say, do not represent the Bush-Cheney ticket on significant social issues.

Giuliani, scheduled to speak in prime time Monday, said, "My message will be one of leadership, that President Bush has demonstrated during maybe some of the most difficult days in our history, the ability to not only get the country through, but to keep us focused on a goal of destroying global terrorism."

This past week Christopher Barron, political director of the gay and lesbian group Log Cabin Republicans, said, "You can't craft a vicious, mean-spirited platform, then try to put lipstick on the pig, by putting Rudy Giuliani and Arnold Schwarzenegger on in prime time."

Giuliani said people should look at the issues the candidates emphasize to see what they stand for.

"Party platforms are important. They probably express some kind of majority view. But there's a strong minority view in this party, about choice, about the things that we've talked about."

He also argued that Democratic presidential nominee Sen. John Kerry and his running mate, Sen. John Edwards, who voted to authorize military action as a possibility against Iraq, differ from the majority of the Democratic Party on that issue.

Kerry has said the purpose of the vote was to give Bush the authority to go to war in Iraq, and that he stands by his vote. He argues, though, that the administration rushed into war without adequate planning and resources.

CNN's Marc Balinsky contributed to this report.


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