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President Ford Back in Hospital

Aired August 2, 2000 - 9:38 a.m. ET


BILL HEMMER, CNN ANCHOR: About 30 minutes ago, here on CNN's "MORNING NEWS," we did report to you that former President Gerald Ford, who is in here in Pennsylvania, apparently is back in a local hospital this morning. It was late last night, about midnight Eastern time, when President Ford was taken to a hospital and treated for about 60 minutes. Aides say that it was just a sinus infection, and also maybe some inner ear difficulties.

But the word we are getting now, President Ford back in the hospital this morning. Very few details on this. But again, at the age of 87, he is getting up there in years. Although he showed quite a bit of energy again last night here with his wife, Betty.

WILLIAM SCHNEIDER, CNN SR. POLITICAL ANALYST: Yes, he was interviewed by Larry King. He was very sharp and penetrating in his interviewed. Of course, he had a very disappointing career. He ran for president in 1976, and he was beaten by Jimmy Carter in what was expected to be a big blow out after Watergate, and it was a lot closer than anyone expects. It's hard to predict these things.

HEMMER: We will talk President Ford's condition throughout the day. As soon as we get more information we will certainly pass that along to our viewers.

As Bush gets back into the limousine, let's make a point about President Ford. I was at a seminar about six months ago, and he said: If Republicans are ever going to capture the White House again, they must take a more moderate position. He felt Democrats, headed up by Bill Clinton, have done that, they learned that, and that was why they were successful for the past eight years. a decade for the matter.

Are his words about moderation hitting home anywhere in this party?

SCHNEIDER: Exactly right, they are hitting home because what George Bush is trying to do is do for the Republicans what Bill Clinton really did for the Democrats. He is simply making them competitive, bringing them back to the mainstream again, after they ventured too far out in the 1990, you know.

They want to get rid of, I'd say, several defining events that Republicans had in the '90s: at the Houston convention of 1992 where the party seemed to turn itself over to the right wing, the Gingrich revolution which went too far with the government shutdown, and finally the impeachment episode which didn't destroy Bill Clinton, it ended up ending the career of Newt Gingrich. There's no talk of any of that. Bush, Cheney not connected to any of those events.

In a way, it's back to the future, back to the Republican Party of Ronald Reagan, of President Bush, kinder and gentler, and even of Gerald Ford, who was very famously moderate. I mean, he certainly would call himself a conservative, but the spirit of Gerald Ford was certainly open and generous.

HEMMER: And just to add to that thought: It has been mentioned this past week, it should be mentioned once again, how few Republican House members have come to this stage. A lot of time, they're -- if they are indeed here, it's at off hours not in primetime. And if so, it's less than three minutes, two minutes, or even one minute up on the stage there. It's quite clear, going to your point again, they're trying to extract themselves from the reputation of the more hard line within their party.

SCHNEIDER: That's right. George Bush makes it very clear to the country that he's not part of the Republican Congress. The Republican Congress has a very negative image. People got very angry with them after the government shut down, and that's represented by, of course, the former speaker, Newt Gingrich, the majority leader, Dick Armey, the majority whip, Tom DeLay. They just haven't been around. Someone asked Dick Armey yesterday on the floor, why aren't you speaking? You're the House majority leader. And he said, they don't need me. What he might have said is, they don't want me, because they don't want to project the image of Congress. Bush is from Texas, he's never worked as a politician in Washington, and he wants to make it clear he's not part of that Republican Congress.

HEMMER: And we're about to see George Bush embark on what will be the toughest campaign of his life. Anne Richards, a Democratic governor in Texas, the incumbent governor at the time back in 1994 that he defeated in a pretty tough race down there, she mentioned one time during an interview -- and, again, this goes back a couple months -- how tough of a campaigner she believes George Bush is. And it was her opinion at the time that he's been underscored with that regard, that people don't believe he can be as good or as effective or as tough or aggressive as...

SCHNEIDER: People underestimate him all the time and he always comes across a lot stronger than anyone expects. And now the Democrats are saying, well, you know, he's not up to the job, he's not capable of it. Don't underestimate this man because he is -- he can be a very impressive campaigner.

HEMMER: All right, Bill Schneider, appreciate the time, your insights. Good to chat with you.

SCHNEIDER: My pleasure to be here.

HEMMER: And George W. Bush, again, on the ground here with his wife Laura, going to be working his way to an event later today, just about 10:30 a.m. Eastern time, a Latino event, and we'll track that for you. A number of other events -- there it is right there: 10:30 a.m. Eastern time, 7:30 on the West Coast. And a bit later at the RNC gala, 12:40 p.m. Eastern time. That is also here in Philadelphia. We'll have coverage and let you know what's happening on that front.

And our primetime coverage, once again, starts tonight, 7:00 Eastern, 4:00 on the West Coast: Bernie, Judy, Bill Schneider will be here, and also Jeff Greenfield again tonight for complete coverage here of the Republican National Convention.

Also, before we go to break, want to make one more mention again: President Gerald Ford admitted to a local hospital last night, treated for a sinus infection at the time, according to his aides, treated and released after about 60 minutes in the hospital last evening. This, again, the videotape with his wife Betty, taking his introduction and a rousing welcome here in the city of Philadelphia. Ford, the former president.



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