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Republicans Present Unified Front for Their National Convention; Dick Cheney Defends His Voting Record; Bush Stumping in Swing StatesAired July 30, 2000 - 8:00 p.m. ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
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GOV. GEORGE W. BUSH (R-TX), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: We're on our way to Philadelphia, and we're on our way to victory.
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BERNARD SHAW, CNN ANCHOR: On this GOP convention eve, the candidate plays head cheerleader.
JUDY WOODRUFF, CNN ANCHOR: The running mate makes an entrance and repeatedly defends his record.
SHAW: The former rival tries to get with the program and gets heckled in the process.
WOODRUFF: Plus: Did the first big protest live up to expectations?
SHAW: And our correspondents preview the convention from their posts at the podium and on the floor.
ANNOUNCER: From the Comcast First Union Center in Philadelphia, the site of the Republican national convention, this is a special edition of INSIDE POLITICS with Bernard Shaw and Judy Woodruff and analysts Jeff Greenfield and Bill Schneider.
WOODRUFF: Thank you for joining us.
When the convention gavel does come down tomorrow morning, all those 2,000-plus delegates may not be in the hall yet, but it will be filled with the Republican Party's hopes for reclaiming he White House. George W. Bush did his part today to try to gin up excitement about the convention and about his candidacy.
Our Jonathan Karl is with Bush in Ohio.
BUSH: We're on our way to Philadelphia, and we're on our way to victory. JONATHAN KARL, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Bush has been spending so much time practicing his convention speech that his aides say some of its language has slipped into his stump speeches on the way to Philadelphia.
BUSH: I want to tell you, at the core of my fabric is this fundamental belief about our country, the great strength of America lies not in the halls of government. The great strength of America lies in the hearts and souls of our citizenry!
KARL: Aides describe the acceptance speech as uplifting, part biography, part vision of leadership, part policy.
BUSH: Guess who's kicking off the convention tomorrow!
KARL: The first Bush to speak at the convention will be Laura, his wife of 22 years.
BUSH: I can't wait for America to get to see Laura! I can't wait for 'em to get to hear my great wife!
KARL: Mrs. Bush will use her 10 to 12-minute speech to talk about her husband and their time in Midland, Texas. She'll also talk about literacy education. On Monday night, candidate Bush will address the convention via satellite from Ohio, introducing Colin Powell. With what one aide called "a nod and a wink," Bush will hint Powell would have a place in his administration as secretary of state.
The sound of fireworks greeted Bush as he rolled into suburban Cincinnati. The campaign has spared no expense on this tour.
(on camera): From here, Bush spends another day working his way across the battleground state of Ohio before taking his pre-convention tour to the state of West Virginia, a state that no republican non- incumbent has won since 1928.
Jonathan Karl, CNN, Blue Ash, Ohio.
SHAW: Bush's running mate, Dick Cheney, already is here in Philadelphia. His arrival capped a day in which he blitzed the airwaves and faced continuing questions about his political record. CNN's Charles Bierbauer has more on Cheney going solo in the spotlight.
CHARLES BIERBAUER, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Dick Cheney arrived to a choreographed welcome of bands, banners and confetti.
DICK CHENEY (R), VICE PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Our party's united. Our purpose is clear. Our cause is just. And Governor George Bush will be the next president of the United States.
BIERBAUER: Before flying to Philadelphia, Cheney circled five Sunday talk shows, largely defending his political past and reconciling his views with those of George W. Bush. On gun control -- his vote in Congress against banning so-called "cop killer" bullets and plastic handguns...
CHENEY: The debates that -- that rage in Washington now is what we're going to do in the future. And the fact of the matter is, I'm perfectly happy to support Governor Bush's proposals with respect to trigger locks for handguns, for example.
BIERBAUER: On economic sanctions against Iran, which Cheney thinks do not work...
CHENEY: He thinks, at this point, it's premature to lift those sanctions. I might go in and argue a different point of view with him, but I'll do it privately.
BIERBAUER: Cheney continued to defend his votes against abortion rights, against the Equal Rights Amendment, against the African National Congress and, consequently, Nelson Mandela's freedom.
CHENEY ("THIS WEEK"): I don't have any problems at all with the vote I cast 20 years ago.
BIERBAUER: Cheney, who had largely eluded this political scrutiny in five years as a Texas-based CEO, complained of a new Democratic ad targeting him.
DNC TELEVISION COMMERCIAL: George W. Bush chose Dick Cheney to help lead the Republican Party. What does Cheney's record say about their plans?
CHENEY ("MEET THE PRESS"): This is exactly the kind of thing that we've seen Democrats do in the Gore campaign that has created so much cynicism on the part of the American people.
BIERBAUER: Cheney disavowed a campaign "hit man" role for himself.
CHENEY ("FOX NEWS SUNDAY"): If you're looking for a slash-and- burn artist or somebody who can get up and give a stirring, tub- thumping stump speech, I'm not your guy.
BIERBAUER: Still, Cheney took a dig at Al Gore's behavior in Congress.
CHENEY ("FOX NEWS SUNDAY"): He was on the Armed Services Committee in the Senate when I was secretary of defense, but he wasn't very active at that time as a member.
BIERBAUER: And Bill Clinton's behavior in general.
CHENEY ("FOX NEWS SUNDAY"): I'm generally one of those people who thinks Bill Clinton has been an enormous embarrassment to the country. And as a man of -- he's a tragic figure, in a way.
BIERBAUER (on-camera): Republican charges against Clinton and Gore will surely intensify as the campaign goes on, but Dick Cheney's extensive exposure this past week seems intended to get as many questions about him in the open and out of the way as quickly as possible.
Charles Bierbauer, CNN, Philadelphia.
WOODRUFF: Senator John McCain is also in this convention city, and today he urged the delegates he won during the primary season to follow his lead and support Governor Bush. Our Bruce Morton has more on McCain's bid to promote his former rival and the resistance he encountered along the way.
BRUCE MORTON, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): The several hundred activists attending what's called a "Shadow Convention" here, stressing issues they say the major parties won't, applauded when emcee Arianna Huffington introduced John McCain. That changed when he endorsed George Bush.
SEN. JOHN MCCAIN (R), ARIZONA: I am obliged not by party loyalty but by sincere conviction to urge all Americans to support my party's nominee, Governor George Bush of Texas. I think it's quite clear...
MCCAIN: I think it's...
MORTON: McCain drew some hecklers but applause on his stand for campaign finance reform. Then on to a book signing -- it really was kind of a campaign day -- and finally to a reception to say good-bye to the 144 delegates who came here pledged to his cause. Good-byes aren't easy always.
MCCAIN: But most of all, I am very, very grateful to the people in this room, who spent their blood, sweat and tears in behalf of this campaign. I will always be grateful -- I will -- I will never be able -- I will never be able to thank...
MORTON: It was a fine send-off, and you knew they really meant it. And then it was good-bye.
MCCAIN: If you don't mind, I would like to announce formally at this time I release all of these delegates. I hope you'll accept them. And thank you all for everything.
MORTON: And they cheered again, and the confetti went off one more time, and the music beeped (ph) and shouted, and their man stood and smiled and stood and smiled. And then it ended. Breaking up is hard to do when it's someone you really believe in.
Bruce Morton, CNN, Philadelphia. (END VIDEOTAPE)
SHAW: And joining us now, Mark McKinnon, a long-time Democrat now working as the top media strategist for the Bush campaign.
Mark, tomorrow, Monday, the Democratic Party is going to launch a nationwide TV ad targeting the Bush-Cheney ticket, specifically underscoring Cheney's House voting record.
MARK MCKINNON, BUSH MEDIA STRATEGIST: Right.
SHAW: What are you going to do about it?
MCKINNON: Well, this is very ironic because it reminds me of 12 years ago, when I was working for the Democrats, and we launched a similar attack against then presidential and vice presidential nominee Dan Quayle. And I think it'll have about the same effect. The fact is that they are pulling out 20-year-old votes.
The American public knows what they're doing. They know that Secretary Cheney's a good man. He has incredible integrity, incredible decent man, and -- so I think that this is just -- this shows how desperate the Democrats are, that they're doing this during our convention, this is unprecedented. Their campaign manager the other day described their campaign as a "slaughterhouse full of killers," and this -- this happened on Saturday, and now we're -- now we see the attacks begin.
SHAW: My question is, what are you going to do about this ad campaign?
MCKINNON: Well, listen, right now we're sending a very positive message about our campaign and -- and how inclusive this convention is. We're going to communicate that this week, and we think it's already had tremendous positive effects. We've seen a terrific response across the country to Secretary Cheney's nomination, to the message out of this convention. And I think this is desperation on the part of the Democrats. Let's see how this week goes, and as I said, we'll -- we'll -- we'll get through this convention and -- but we won't be turning the other cheek. I'll tell you that.
SHAW: OK, but if I hear your response to my question, against the Democratic ad you're going to let your four-day ad here out of Philadelphia speak to that, and then you'll reassess what possible...
SHAW: ... damage is being...
MCKINNON: That would be -- that would be telling, Bernie, and I don't want to reveal our strategy on your show, but...
SHAW: Oh, please do.
MCKINNON: But stand by.
SHAW: OK. Are you going to create a Cheney ad, profiling the man?
MORTON: Well, we're -- we're getting a terrific profile on Secretary Cheney through the media over the course of the last few days, and we have one of the best ads that we could possibly put together in his wife, Lynn Cheney, who will be introducing him at the convention. Terrific asset to the campaign, along with Secretary Cheney.
SHAW: Is George Bush a "new Republican"?
MCKINNON: You bet he's a "new Republican."
SHAW: What's a "new Republican"?
MCKINNON: Well, "new Republican" is somebody who's compassionate and -- and is proactive and actually is for education, unlike a lot of Republicans in the past, who wanted to dismantle the federal -- the federal education department. He's got a program to hold schools accountable with federal money, which is totally new.
It's the reason people like me were attracted to Governor Bush in Texas. I was working on a -- a -- a documentary film on a -- on a school that's going to be featured here tomorrow night. It's going start the convention -- the Kip (ph) Academy in Houston. The governor got interested in that school and made it a charter school. So he's -- he's speaking out proactively on education, on immigration, issues that aren't typical for Republicans to be talking about.
SHAW: Your convention film that you created and directed -- how long is it? Describe it ever so briefly.
MCKINNON: Well, that's -- that's all I can do because I'd like to leave the surprise out. I'd like to give a lot of credit to Stuart Stevens, who's working on that for us. It's going to be a nine-minute film that will highlight the governor's philosophy, his biography and his humanity.
SHAW: Why only nine minutes?
MCKINNON: That's all -- well, that's about all you'll give us. In fact, you barely give us that. We'd love to make a 30-minute film, but it's...
SHAW: Well, I'm thinking of the Reagan film, "Morning in America."
MCKINNON: Well, listen, with each successive convention, our time slots get shorter and shorter and tougher and tougher, and you all beat us over the head with a bat on nine minutes. And much of your brethren don't even cover that, so...
SHAW: Well, we cover your convention thoroughly. That's why...
MCKINNON: Well, I'm proud of you.
SHAW: ... Judy and Jeff and I are... MCKINNON: Proud of you. I salute you.
SHAW: And Bill Schneider...
MCKINNON: I actually have a special 30-minute version that I'd love for you to air.
SHAW: Would you show it to me?
MCKINNON: Yeah, if you'll air it.
SHAW: OK. Mark McKinnon, thanks very much.
MCKINNON: Thank you.
WOODRUFF: All right, Bernie.
Well, Jeff Greenfield,keeping in mind what Mark McKinnon just said, is this a new George W. Bush, a new Republican, a new Republican Party that's going to be rolled out here in Philadelphia?
JEFF GREENFIELD, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL ANALYST: I think it's -- it is a -- it is a different Republican Party, certainly, in emphasis. Now, you know, we always tend to think that everything was invented the day before yesterday. We should remember that 20 years ago, the Republicans chose Detroit, the most unionized city in America, as its convention site to say "We want to reach out to blue-collar folk and labor unions." Ronald Reagan's acceptance speech in 1980 quoted Franklin D. Roosevelt, something that Republicans didn't use to do in the past. And he campaigned in traditionally Democratic neighborhoods.
I think this time, there are two interesting things going on. What Mark talked about was -- was a quite conscious reaching out in language to things like, "Yeah, we're for the Department of Education. We're for immigrants. We're for prescription drug benefits." But the tone is what I find so interesting.
It's almost as if they are saying, "We are going to be so relentlessly civil and polite and relatively free of rancor that when Al Gore starts attacking us, we don't want you to listen to the substance of the attacks, we want you to hear negativity."
WOODRUFF: You know, you also -- in connection with that, you just -- you listen to Dick Cheney today on the Sunday talk shows saying, with a smile on his face, "Bill Clinton's a tragic figure. Bill Clinton's an embarrassment to the country."
WOODRUFF: He's saying some very tough things, but with a gentle tone. GREENFIELD: More -- I think if I had to describe the theme of their way they're going to talk about it, it's more in sorrow than in anger.
GREENFIELD: It's Joe Welch saying to Senator McCarthy, "Have you no sense of shame?" It's the quiet voice. It's the shake of the head saying, "Isn't it terrible?" Now, given the Bush campaign's primary tactics, I think one could raise some questions about the fact that they are perfectly willing to throw an elbow or two. But certainly, from now on in, as the nominee, I think they're going to -- I think the motto, if I had to guess -- and I know Mark won't tell us -- is "Kill 'em with kindness."
SHAW: One word: dignity. It's clear that Governor Bush wants these Republicans to leave Philadelphia having presented an image of dignity. They want to comport themselves in a very dignified manner. And if the Republicans can get out of town without too much attention shown the demonstrators in the streets, I think they will have accomplished it. And then the Democrats, of course, will be seeking to do the same thing in Los Angeles.
GREENFIELD: And dignity, which -- a word that Dick Cheney uses, I think, every day, is another way of saying "Remember Bill Clinton and his behavior."
WOODRUFF: Well, if -- if the Republicans want to engage, they certainly can, and they're going to be tempted because they've already -- there's enough being thrown out there on the -- this line over the weekend from -- that we heard Mark McKinnon quote, from the chair of the -- or the manager of the Gore campaign, saying "We're a slaughterhouse full of killers" -- with lines like that, they're almost asking for it.
GREENFIELD: I think -- I think Bill Daley is probably reaching for the Maalox on that one. That's not what they want...
SHAW: But you know what? I also think Mark McKinnon semaphored for us the fact that after this convention is over, they're going to respond to the attacks on Cheney. He obviously said, "I'm not going to tell you what our strategy is"...
GREENFIELD: I always thought...
SHAW: ... but do you think that the Republicans are going to sit back and let the Democrats just slam and slam against Cheney and not answer them?
GREENFIELD: Remember Muhammad Ali, and rope-a-dope? You let the other guy swing, and you counterpunch. I've always thought -- and you know, I used to practice what Mark McKinnon did for a living -- Mark McKinnon -- till I became a virgin. Counter-punching is always more effective. SHAW: Yeah.
GREENFIELD: Always more effective. And particularly in this climate. They've made a judgment that the public will regard any attack, I think even a substantive attack, as slash-and-burn politics. And I think -- you know, I think they've made a roll of the dice on that, and I think that's where they're going in everything. I expect the acceptance speech to be remarkably free of rancor. Maybe they'll even say a nice word about Clinton somewhere in there. I don't know. We'll find out. It's possible.
WOODRUFF: It'll be interesting to see. All right.
Still ahead on this edition of INSIDE POLITICS, this special edition...
SHAW: A preview from the floor of this Comcast First Union Center. We're going to check in with our correspondents on the politics and procedures in store tomorrow.
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Republican national convention
Monday night viewers' guide
10-year-old singing the national anthem
videos on education
speeches by teachers and an adoption advocate
House Speaker Dennis Hastert
TV personality Ben Stein
Texas first lady Laura Bush
Retired general Colin Powell
(END ON SCREEN)
WOODRUFF: With the opening of the GOP convention less than 14 hours away, we turn now to our team of correspondents down on the floor, beginning with our own Wolf Blitzer at the center of it all -- or actually, more accurately, a little bit right -- to the right of center of it all.
Wolf, tell us what you're going to be doing as the podium reporter. WOLF BLITZER, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Judy, I'm going to be here every night, Monday through Thursday, starting at 7:00 PM tomorrow, earlier in the day because there is a morning and afternoon session. My job, basically, will be to try to get some of the speakers, some of those who are going to be coming up here, talk to them either before or after their speeches, get a sense of what the mood is and, obviously, try to get some news, if we can, from the various speakers who are going to be up here.
Monday night, for example, Mrs. Laura Bush will be one of the principal speakers, General Colin Powell. On Tuesday night it's going to be all national security and national defense. Condoleezza Rice, Governor Bush's chief national security adviser, will be speaking, as well as John McCain. The theme of his speech is going to be, again, on national defense.
Wednesday night, Dick Cheney. It will be Dick Cheney's night. Thursday night, of course, Governor Bush and his acceptance speech.
So my job here will be, basically, to find those people and a lot of the others, some of the lesser-knowns, because not all of the speakers are just political types. There'll be some comedians. There'll be some entertainers, as well.
Now, Frank Sesno's standing by on the floor. He's over in New Hampshire.
Frank, tell us what you're going to be doing.
FRANK SESNO, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, down here on the floor, Wolf, much as you up on the podium, we'll be looking for the stories. And every one of these delegates is a story unto him or herself. Every one of these states tells a story. New Hampshire's a good case in point. One of the messages that this convention wants to convey, that Republicans want to convey, is that all are firmly and loyally in lockstep behind George W. Bush.
But as New Hampshire's placement here proves -- it's all the way at the back of the hall -- there are some scars that haven't entirely healed yet. It was, after, all, New Hampshire that launched John McCain. They went overwhelmingly for John McCain in that primary on February 1st. It's one of the reasons they're sitting back here.
And by the way, the McCain delegates, who then kind of owned that delegation, voted out two committeemen who they thought were way too loyal to George W. Bush. So there's a change in the New Hampshire delegation, as well. Nonetheless, they will be behind Bush here, and their first priority is to keep that first-in-the-nation status, that New Hampshire primary, next time 'round. And for all the discussion and debate, the head of the Republican Party says there's nothing like being out of the White House for eight years that gets you going and keeps you focused.
Now, John King, my colleague across the way, has done some creative geography for a political point. You're between Wyoming and Arizona, John. JOHN KING, CNN CORRESPONDENT: That's right, Frank. Two states we'll be watching very closely throughout this convention for very different reasons. As you mentioned, a great deal of focus here. What will John McCain do? What will his role be? And what will his delegates do? This is the Arizona delegations. Aides tell us the senator plans to come to the floor on Thursday and actually watch Governor Bush's acceptance speech here with his home state delegation.
Bush aides watching just a bit nervously. They're still worried that some of the McCain delegates are a bit disgruntled. They're looking for the Senate to be quite enthusiastic in his endorsement -- aides say he will be -- and to quiet down his delegates should any of them try to mount any bit of a protest.
Now, by coincidence, just behind Arizona is the Wyoming delegation, only 13 delegates, but they now in a central role at this convention, of course, because their former member of Congress, Dick Cheney, is the GOP vice presidential nominee. They were moved up a bit. They were to be in the back of the hall, but they are moved up, these relatively small states.
Over on a piece of the floor with two of November's biggest prizes, between the Texas and the California delegations, here's our senior political correspondent, Candy Crowley.
CANDY CROWLEY, CNN CORRESPONDENT: John, standing here between California and Texas just because it's a reminder that there's an overarching story here that I think is represented in these two delegations. On my right is Texas, certainly the happiest delegation, but also reflective of a mood at this convention. They really feel that they've got ahold of a winner here, so that is very pervasive and will be pervasive on the floor.
California, a very diverse state and one that they would dearly love to have in the bag. They're trailing in the polls there now. But California sort of represents in that kind of microcosm the sort of message that they want to get out here, appealing to those sorts of diverse swing voters. This has all of the fingerprints of the Bush campaign on this particular convention. What they want here is to appeal to swing voters. It's a tricky kind of business because they have to rouse the people in the hall -- that is, the faithful -- without scaring the people watching it on television. So in fact, both Texas and California playing very important parts here, both in the overarching view and in the single view. And by the way, there is absolutely no coincidence in the fact that the first event George Bush will have here will be before a Latino group.
Now let me throw to my colleague, Jeanne Meserve, over in Ohio, one of many battle states she's covering.
JEANNE MESERVE, CNN CORRESPONDENT: That's right. Ohio, Illinois, Michigan, Kentucky -- they're all here. These are the states where this election is going to be decided. They will be lavished with love and attention during this convention. George W. Bush has traveled through some of them on his way to the convention. He'll travel through them again on his way out. These are all states that went for Bill Clinton in 1992 and '96, but right now, the polls show George W. Bush even or ahead of Al Gore in every one of these states. The delegates are excited. They are enthused. They think that their horse is a winner this time.
There are differences of opinion, of course, within these delegations. You'll hear them expressed, but they will be muted because there's a greater goal here. The goal of the Republicans here is to get George W. Bush elected.
Just yesterday, they were rehearsing some of the music that they're going to be playing during this convention, and the band was playing an old Beatles classic. And the chorus goes, "Come together right now over me." That's exactly what George W. Bush wants out of this convention, and it looks like he's going to get it.
Now back to Wolf Blitzer on the podium.
BLITZER: Jeanne, our viewers, especially our politically observant viewers, will notice that this podium is a lot different than previous podiums. One of the things, it's a lot lower. There are steps that go down. It's one of the symbolic gestures they've made to show that this is a new Republican Party, this is a new Republican presidential candidate, a man who is much more compassionate, anxious to be part of the people, and this podium sort of symbolizes all of that.
We'll have extensive coverage, of course, from the podium, as well as the floor, as this convention continues. But for now, back to Judy up in the booth.
WOODRUFF: All right, Wolf. And if I may dub it, the mother of all podiums that we've seen covering politics.
INSIDE POLITICS we'll be right back.
SHAW: The Comcast Center here all prepared and ready for tomorrow's opening gavel, which goes down shortly past 10:00 o'clock in the morning. And the convention will be underway.
Joining us now with a look at the Republican ticket and public opinion, our senior political analyst Bill Schneider.
Bill, where do the polls stand on this convention eve?
WILLIAM SCHNEIDER, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL ANALYST: Well, Bernie, seven -- is that right? Yes. Seven national polls have come out in the last few days, and all of them after Governor Bush named Dick Cheney to the ticket. All seven polls of registered voters showed Bush leading Gore, although the margins vary from just 1 point in the "Los Angeles Times" poll to 11 points in both the ABC News/"Washington Post" poll and our own CNN/"Time" poll. Average those seven points and -- abracadabra -- we get our poll of polls, which shows Bush 49, Gore 43, a 6-point lead. All the polls show Bush hovering around the 50 percent mark, between 46 and 53, and they all show Gore in the low 40s.
So what do we conclude? One, Bush is in the lead. Two, his lead is fairly small, in single digits among all registered voters, a modest lead, not commanding, not insurmountable. Six points, you know, happens to be a typical convention bounce. If Gore gets a slightly higher-than-usual convention bounce next month and Bush's bounce is slightly below normal, then the race is going to be dead even.
And one more thing. We never see turnout of 100 percent of registered voters, not even for president. Usually about three quarters actually show up on election day. Now, four of those polls screened for those likely voters. What happens if we look at the likely voters? Alakazam! Wow! Bush's lead nearly doubles from 6 to 11 points. It's now 54 to 43.
Now, notice that Gore's number does not change at all. It was 43 percent among all registered votes, and it stays at 43 percent among those most likely to vote. What changes is Bush's support. It goes from 49 among all registered voters to 54 percent among those people most likely to vote. The most committed voters out there are for Bush, and that could be because he's been getting so much attention lately. Maybe.
SHAW: Thank you.
WOODRUFF: All right. A lot of numbers, and fascinating.
SHAW: Yes, very much so.
WOODRUFF: Well, much more ahead on this special edition of INSIDE POLITICS.
SHAW: Still to come: protests in this City of Brotherly Love. Will they make any impact on Republican visitors? Plus...
WOODRUFF: Democrats organize their attacks on the GOP hopeful and work their way to Philadelphia.
SCHNEIDER: These become infomercials, except instead of selling hair treatments or stain removers, they're selling a candidate.
SHAW: Our Bill Schneider will come back, and he'll talk about the evolving purpose of these party conventions.
WOODRUFF: It's a big hall, and they're testing the lights. And right now the hall is almost empty, but tomorrow night at this time, it will be full of delegates and reporters and alternate delegates and a very alive Republican convention.
Heading into tomorrow's GOP convention kick-off, some Republicans have been concerned that protests outside the hall might overshadow George W. Bush's big moment. They may have felt reassured by a peaceful and smaller than expected demonstration today.
CNN's Maria Hinojosa has more from the streets of Philadelphia.
MARIA HINOJOSA, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): A steady stream of activists cut through Philadelphia's downtown, trying to draw attention to their cause. They carried eye-catching banners, large, colorful puppets, and brought along a comedy troupe called Billionaires for Bush.
UNIDENTIFIED PERFORMER: (singing) I got the billionaire blues. I don't have to choose. I got Bush in my pocket, and Gore walks in my shoes...
HINOJOSA: Organizers had called for the largest demonstration ever during a political convention. In the end, they were a few thousand strong.
MIKE MORRILL, UNITY 2000: We had a couple of buses canceled because people were afraid of the violence because the police were out there every day practicing riot preparations and all that stuff. And that's a -- that's sending a message to people that something dangerous is going to happen.
HINOJOSA: Police commissioner John Timoney bicycled through the crowd, reassuring people there would be no violence.
JOHN TIMONEY, PHILADELPHIA POLICE COMMISSIONER: I am as big a supporter of the 1st Amendment as you'll find. I really believe in it.
HINOJOSA: There were no confrontations between police and protesters. Instead, there were women for choice, blacks and Latinos fighting the death penalty, gays wanting Civil Rights, and a host of others, even a former presidential candidate.
JOHN ANDERSON, FORMER PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: ... that our two old parties simply are not addressing the most important issues of our time!
HINOJOSA (on-camera): While this demonstration prides itself on unity and inclusivity, this time around so does the Republican convention, where Latinos, African-Americans, women and even a gay congressman are scheduled to take center stage. URVASHI VAID, NATIONAL GAY AND LESBIAN TASK FORCE: To the extent that they're even thinking about the fact that there are Latinos in this country, if they're thinking about the fact that there's people of color who vote, that they're thinking about the fact that 5 percent of the electorate is gay, lesbian, bisexual, it's because our message is getting through to them.
HINOJOSA (voice-over): The activists will continue pushing their message in other protests this week, as the convention gets underway.
Maria Hinojosa, CNN, Philadelphia.
SHAW: The Democratic Party also is trying to get out its message and compete with the hoopla that will be coming from this convention hall. CNN's Chris Black has details of the counteroffensive by the Gore camp.
CHRIS BLACK, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): While Al Gore relaxes with his family on the sands of North Carolina...
ALBERT GORE, VICE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Just having a good time, just relaxing.
BLACK: ... the Democratic Party is revving up to respond to the Republican national convention.
JOE ANDREW, DNC CHAIRMAN: We're going to explain to the American people just what the differences between these two parties are, that while George Bush and Dick Cheney will use the words that they are "compassionate conservatives," the reality is they're just classic callous conservatives.
BLACK: Democrats are rolling out what they are calling a "Texas truth squad," a caravan of Texas Democrats keeping one step ahead of George W. Bush as he travels through several battleground states to Philadelphia.
MOLLY BETH MALCOLM, TEXAS DEMOCRATIC CHAIRWOMAN: Our Texas values say we're going to set the record straight. And I want you to know that his rhetoric does not match his record. So don't be fooled by what you're going to see in this convention.
BLACK: To reinforce the message, a billboard, shouting distance from the Republicans' meeting hall in Philadelphia, and a new ad airing on Monday in 17 states, needling Republican vice presidential candidate Dick Cheney for votes against Head Start and the Clean Water Act.
The Democrats also are setting up special Web sites and dispatching a rapid response team to present the Democratic perspective on Republican campaign themes. On the team, a who's who of Democratic loyalists: Senator Tom Harkin of Iowa to talk about issues affecting children, Maryland Governor Parris Glendening on education, Senator Pat Leahy of Vermont on crime, and actress Rue McClanahan of "The Golden Girls" on Social Security.
In Nashville, the Gore campaign is setting up a replica of the Clinton campaign's famous 1992 war room to monitor every Republican word.
MARK FABIANI, GORE DEPUTY CAMPAIGN MANAGER FOR COMMUNICATIONS: We're prepared for anything. I think we've shown that over the last few days, after the announcement of Mr. Cheney was made. I think we've shown very clearly that we're capable of drawing some clear distinctions between the new guard leadership of Al Gore and the old guard represented by Bush and by Cheney.
BLACK (on camera): While his supporters do battle on his behalf, Al Gore is thinking about his running mate and working on the acceptance speech he will deliver at the Democratic national convention. But mostly, he says, he's hanging with his family on vacation, resting up for the big push to November.
Chris Black, CNN, Wrightsville Beach, North Carolina.
WOODRUFF: President Clinton helped to back up the Democrats' so- called "truth squad" today by taking aim at Dick Cheney.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
WILLIAM J. CLINTON, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Now, all the big publicity is about, in the last few days, an amazing vote cast by their nominee for vice president when he was in Congress against letting Nelson Mandela out of jail. And that takes your breath away. But Mr. Mandela got out of jail, in spite of that congressional vote. Most of the congressmen voted to let him out. He became president of South Africa, and the rest is history.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
WOODRUFF: Mr. Clinton spoke at a Democratic National Committee lunch in Chicago.
Well, we are now joined by Ron Brownstein...
RON BROWNSTEIN, "LOS ANGELES TIMES": Hi, Judy.
WOODRUFF: ... of the "Los Angeles Times."
Ron, is this counteroffensive by the Democrats typical for what happens before the other party's convention, or is it more than usual this year? What do you think?
BROWNSTEIN: I think it's more than usually intense, and I think it reflects, to some extent, their frustration at their inability to box Governor Bush himself in the kind of ideological corner that they've been able to paint the previous Republican nominees. Cheney has given them some new opportunities there that Bush, through his rhetoric and his record in Texas, which is more mixed -- I mean, there are some conservative elements that they can go after, but there are some very moderate elements, as well.
Cheney has given them a clearer shot, and it is striking to see the party put on an ad about the vice presidential nominee. In the end, Governor Bush has told people that he believes that, you know, this is going to be about the presidential candidates. And history would suggest that, by and large, he's right.
WOODRUFF: What is George W. Bush's job here in Philadelphia?
BROWNSTEIN: Well, I think his job is a lot easier, in many ways, than Al Gore's job in two different respects. First, Bush largely here has to reinforce rather than change perceptions that he's put out during the spring. I mean, there are -- they have tried to put down the message that he is a different kind of Republican, that he's a successful chief executive, that he's creating a more inclusive party. And they really want to reinforce the bipartisanship. They really want to reinforce those messages here.
He doesn't really have to go out and sort of fundamentally change the way people see him, I think, in the same way that Al Gore might, dealing with these questions of whether he's strong enough to be president, the kind of problem every vice president faces.
The other way in which this is, I think, in some ways easier for Bush is that one of the most striking things about this year has been the way the Republican base has consolidated behind him, partially because they don't like Clinton, partially because the way the Republican primaries played out, with Bush as the defender of traditional Republicanism against all the heresies of John McCain.
He's had support from 90 percent of Republicans for four months now. That gives him the freedom this next week to see the kind of convention we're going to see, which are aimed very squarely at swing voters and has very little red meat for the base.
WOODRUFF: How confident are the Republicans, at this point?
BROWNSTEIN: They are very confident, perhaps a little overconfident. You know, the fact is that in a period of general contentment with the way things are going in the country, there is a tailwind behind the incumbent party. It may not kick in right away, and to some extent, it is not kicking in because of personal doubts about Al Gore.
I mean, that really is -- the biggest thing, when you look at polls, I think -- and Bill, you know, went through those polls -- is that George Bush is seen as a stronger leader than Al Gore by a large margin. Now, some of that may endure all the way to election day, but clearly, part of it, history suggests, is endemic to the office of the vice presidency. All vice presidents have trouble being seen as strong leaders because they're presented as the number two to the country. So until Gore comes forward at his convention and steps out of Clinton's shadow, we don't know how much of that problem can be resolved.
And you know, the challenge -- one of the challenges for Bush, thus, this week becomes making a case for change at a time when people are generally satisfied with the way things are going.
WOODRUFF: Ron, this convention is so carefully scripted, it seems to us, so carefully orchestrated by the Republican Party, by the Bush campaign...
WOODRUFF: Everything looks perfect. It's the smiling...
WOODRUFF: ... bright, shining, smiling face of the Republican Party, the new "compassionate conservatives." What could go wrong this week, anything?
BROWNSTEIN: Well, you know...
WOODRUFF: I mean, is it -- they're just sailing into...
BROWNSTEIN: Well, they should have a good week. I mean, they have -- they have -- you know, they have -- they have moved the party in some important ways. There are other ways in which they have not and which they sort of, you know, held to a more traditional message that Democrats are going to want to try to target, particularly on tax cuts, perhaps Social Security reform. But they're not running away from those.
I mean, one thing about Bush is that, you know, he has not -- in the course of trying to reach the center, he has not gone out of his way to alienate the base. There's a lot in his agenda that helps explain that 90 percent support among Republicans.
And the fact is, Judy, that we all sort of flagellate ourselves about what is the story here at the convention? Why are we here? The purpose of the convention has changed. It used to be to pick the nominee, what happened in the hall. Now it's what happens outside the hall. It is the way for the nominee to introduce himself to the country. And it remains a signal event in these campaigns.
It is truly -- has functioned as a turning point in many of these campaigns, whether 1988 with George Bush, 1992 with Bill Clinton. Again could be this year we could see the same kind of effect. It is -- it is the moment where the country really gets to tune in and look at him in a way that they haven't before.
WOODRUFF: Well, we've said it before, and we'll say it again, and I'm sure we'll say it even again after this. CNN will be covering it no matter what the Republicans' purpose here is.
BROWNSTEIN: Yeah. Well, and no flagellation.
WOODRUFF: That's right, no flagellation! Ron Brownstein... BROWNSTEIN: Thank you.
WOODRUFF: ... thanks very much.
And coming up next on INSIDE POLITICS: With the Bush nomination assured, our Bill Schneider asks whether there's any reason to watch the convention. Yes!
(VIDEO CLIP OF CONVENTION HALL CONSTRUCTION)
SHAW: Well, this is now, but we just saw that breathlessly quick time-lapse look at the building of the convention hall -- just a quick look, of course, at the many changes that have taken place since May, here at the site of this Republican convention.
In the last week, Bill Schneider, legions of media members have also arrived, all to cover the official nomination of George Walker Bush.
What about this ritual? Is it still necessary?
SCHNEIDER: Well, Bernie, to paraphrase the renowned Admiral James Stockdale, who are we? Why are we here? More than 4,000 delegates and alternates serving as a studio audience for a TV production, 15,000 press covering a story where everybody knows the ending. Who's paying for this? You are, gentle taxpayer, at least in part, 13.5 million bucks. And what's the point? That's a good question.
SCHNEIDER (voice-over): In 1952, almost 50 years ago, was the last time we had conventions where the presidential outcome was in doubt. Republicans picked Dwight Eisenhower over Robert Taft, and the Democrats drafted Adlai Stevenson to run.
Nowadays a convention is like the Electoral College. It confirms the decision of the voters. No one covers the Electoral College. Is there any reason to pay attention to the conventions? Yes. Start with the political parties.
They don't do much anymore except referee the nominating contests and promote the winners. That's where conventions come in. They've become infomercials, except instead of selling hair treatments or stain removers, they're selling a candidate. They have great visuals, lots of color, heart-tugging emotions...
MARY FISHER, AIDS ACTIVIST (August 19, 1992): We may take refuge in our stereotypes, but we cannot hide there long because HIV asks only one thing of those it attacks: Are you human?
SCHNEIDER: ... and of course, celebrities.
ANDREW CARD, GENERAL CO-CHAIRMAN, REPUBLICAN NATIONAL CONVENTION: Rick Schroeder, known to some of us as Ricky...
SCHNEIDER: Conventions are also an opportunity for the party to market a message. Here in Philadelphia, the message is "This is a new Republican Party -- tolerant, compassionate and inclusive."
CARD: This is a different kind of convention. We have a very different kind of candidate running for president.
SCHNEIDER: For the candidates, conventions provide their first opportunity to address a national audience and introduce themselves, or reintroduce themselves. For the voters, conventions are metaphors for who the candidates are and how they would govern. In 1972, the Democratic convention created the impression that the candidate couldn't control his own party. How could he govern the country? The Republican convention that year followed a script. Everything was under control.
In 1988, Vice President George Bush turned the GOP convention into a metaphor for leadership. He stood up for his vice presidential nominee against a howling press mob and delivered a speech that established his own identity.
GEORGE H.W. BUSH (R), PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES (August 20, 1992): ... a brilliant diversity spread like stars, like a thousand points of light in a broad and peaceful sky.
SCHNEIDER: What about the press? Why are they here? They don't want to turn their programming over to the parties to run infomercials. The press is here to give consumers the information they need to make a wise choice, which may include some information not in those infomercials. And as we saw in 1988, the voters may examine the information they get from the press, and then they make their own decision.
SHAW: Indeed, across this great land. Bill Schneider, thank you.
And when we return, perspective from our senior analyst, Jeff Greenfield.
SHAW: Now the remaining answers to cnn.com's Test Your Political IQ Quiz.
Question 4: When was the last Republican national convention to go more than one ballot?
(BEGIN ON SCREEN) A) 1944
(END ON SCREEN)
SHAW: If you answered B, 1948, correct.
Who was the only president to have served as head of a union?
(BEGIN ON SCREEN)
A) Gerald Ford
B) Calvin Coolidge
C) Ronald Reagan
D) Harry Truman
(END ON SCREEN)
SHAW: Ronald Reagan, who headed the Screen Actors Guild.
And the last question: Was it Ulysses S. Grant, Warren Harding, Calvin Coolidge or William McKinley who rode into office on calls for a "return to normalcy"? The answer, B, Warren Harding.
Log onto cnn.com/election2000 for six new questions tonight at midnight.
WOODRUFF: And we won't tell you how many of us got any of those right or wrong. We're not going to comment.
Joining us once again with some closing thoughts on this convention even, Jeff Greenfield.
GREENFIELD: Harding was president? I didn't know that.
GREENFIELD: Let us pause now, friends, and examine an idea close to all of our hearts and minds, the fallacy of linear extrapolation. I know it's a mouthful. Boiled down into plain English, it simply warns about the danger of assuming that what has happened so far will keep on happening. In other words, just because horses crowded city streets in 1890 didn't mean we'd all be up to our necks in horse droppings by 1990.
Right now, Governor Bush is ahead in the polls, and voters think better of him than Gore on leadership and likability, and therefore -- well, therefore maybe not very much. Michael Dukakis's incredible vanishing lead in 1980 is just one example. Nixon's landslide lead over Hubert Humphrey in 1968 turned into a virtual dead heat. So did Jimmy Carter's lead over Gerald Ford in 1976. And a tight Carter- Reagan race in 1980 turned into a Reagan landslide.
In fact, a couple of weeks before the Democrats gathered in 1992, Bill Clinton was running third behind Bush and Ross Perot, and some Democrats were wondering if they could find another nominee. And so what is flat-footed stupidity in the summer can, with a shift in the polls, look like Svengali-like brilliance by November.
John Kennedy had it right after his election. When he read an article calling his team "corruscatingly brilliant," Kennedy said, "You know, a few thousand votes the other way in Illinois, and we'd all be corruscatingly stupid."
No personal references intended, of course.
WOODRUFF: You're trying to tell us that we shouldn't assume anything.
GREENFIELD: Whoa Nellie, as they used to say in college football, yes.
WOODRUFF: All right, Jeff Greenfield.
SHAW: That's all for this special edition of INSIDE POLITICS. I'm Bernard Shaw.
WOODRUFF: And I'm Judy Woodruff. Stay tuned for a CNN/"Time" convention special.
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