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Inside Politics

First lady: Bush shows 'strength and conviction'

Schwarzenegger says GOP is party to protect diversity, families


THE MORNING GRIND
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First Lady Laura Bush takes the stage
Laura Bush speech (Part Two)

Schwarzenegger excites convention.
Schwarzenegger speech (Part Two)

Aaron Brown on Day Two of the Republican National Convention.
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America Votes 2004

NEW YORK (CNN) -- First lady Laura Bush and California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger ended the second night of the Republican convention Tuesday with a litany of anecdotes designed to highlight family issues and portray the party as a "people of compassion."

"Everything I have -- my career, my success, my family -- I owe to America," said Schwarzenegger, who was elected California governor last year. "America gave me opportunities, and my immigrant dreams came true."

Sharing tales of meeting injured soldiers and eager schoolchildren, the two most-anticipated speakers of the night addressed issues they described as critical on the home front.

And to round out the theme of the day, President Bush followed his twin daughters on the evening program via satellite to introduce his wife.

"My life has been better every day since that wonderful day Laura Welch said yes to me," Bush said. "She's a wonderful mother who fills our home with love and kindness. She's a teacher who wants every American child to read. ... She's been a voice of calm and comfort in difficult times." (Special report: America Votes 2004, the Republican convention)

Focusing the second-day message, the speakers addressed how they thought the party shows concern for hopeful immigrants, striving entrepreneurs, citizens wrestling with illness and parents seeking quality schools for their children.

As the final speaker of the night, Mrs. Bush made references to all those facets of family life.

"Tonight, I want to try to answer the question that I believe many people would ask me if we sat down for a cup of coffee or ran into each other at the store: 'You know him better than anyone -- you've seen things no one else has seen -- why do you think we should re-elect your husband as president?' "

"When my husband took office, too many schools were leaving too many children behind, so he worked with Congress to pass sweeping education reform," she said. "I could talk about the fact that my husband is the first president to provide federal funding for stem cell research ... I could talk about the record increase in home ownership." (Full story)

But she deviated from what she described as compassion policies to resurrect tenets of Monday's message, which focused on courage. She said she wanted "to talk about the issue that I believe is most important for my own daughters, for all our families, and for our future: George's work to protect our country and defeat terror so that all children can grow up in a more peaceful world." (Transcript)

A Nixon convert

Speaking to delegates Tuesday night, Schwarzenegger took a similar detour.

Bush is "a man of perseverance. He's a man of inner strength," the former actor and bodybuilder said. "He is a leader who doesn't flinch, doesn't waiver, does not back down."

Cloaked in the Republican mantle, Schwarzenegger recounted two days of his life: one when he wrapped himself in the American flag as a new citizen and the other when he determined that the GOP was the party for him. (Full story)

He described arriving in the United States from Austria in 1968 and watching TV coverage of the race between Republican presidential contender Richard Nixon and Democratic challenger Hubert Humphrey.

"A friend who spoke German and English translated for me," he said. "I heard Humphrey saying things that sounded like socialism -- which is what I had just left. But then I heard Nixon speak. He was talking about free enterprise, getting government off your back, lowering taxes and strengthening the military.

"Listening to Nixon speak sounded more like a breath of fresh air. I said to my friend, 'What party is he?' My friend said, 'He's a Republican.' I said, 'Then I am a Republican!' And I've been a Republican ever since." (Transcript)

Earlier in the evening, a rolling roll call gave Bush a majority of the 2,509 delegates needed to clinch his renomination, with Pennsylvania -- a key November battleground state -- putting him over the top. The roll call will continue into Wednesday, with organizers planning to renominate Vice President Dick Cheney by acclamation before he addresses the convention Wednesday night.

Family focus

Breast cancer, adoption, marriage, health care and education were also podium topics, as speakers lauded Bush as a leader strong on the domestic front and compassionate toward those in need.

As a part of that push, the president's nephew George P. Bush made brief comments highlighting his uncle's record on education and home loans for minorities.

U.S. Secretary of Education Rod Paige said, "No nation ... can sustain greatness unless it educates all, not just some, of its citizens ... Only one candidate has worked to create an education system worthy of a great nation: President George W. Bush." (Transcript)

Earlier in the evening, Elisabeth Hasselbeck of reality show "Survivor" fame recounted her mother's battle with breast cancer and said the president has made research on the disease a national priority.

Sen. Elizabeth Dole of North Carolina told conventioneers that the party has stood firm in its defense of marriage and the protection of unborn children.

"The party of Abraham Lincoln has not wandered in a desert of disbelief or uncertainty," she said. "Led now by President Bush, this Grand Old Party is still guided by a moral compass."

"We believe in the dignity of every life, the possibility of every mind, the divinity of every soul," Dole said, "This is our true North."

Democrats had criticized Republican convention planners for scheduling prime-time speakers, such as Schwarzenegger and former New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani, who, they say, do not represent the Bush-Cheney ticket on significant social issues.

Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton of New York has called it a "bait-and-switch" convention.

But Tuesday, Dole unabashedly championed her party's conservative stance against same-sex marriage and in favor of the rights of the unborn.

"Marriage between a man and a woman isn't something Republicans invented, but it is something Republicans will defend," she said. "We believe in a culture that respects all life ... the frail elderly, the infirm and those not yet born. Protecting life isn't something Republicans invented. But it is something Republicans will defend."


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