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Inside Politics

Democratic senator to speak at GOP convention

Georgia's Miller a frequent critic of Dems

From Steve Turnham
CNN Washington Bureau

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Zell Miller

WASHINGTON (CNN) -- Sen. Zell Miller, a Democratic senator from Georgia and a frequent critic of his own party, will speak at the Republican National Convention, according to senior Democratic Senate sources.

Georgians elected Miller in 2000 to fill out the term of the late Sen. Paul Coverdell, a Republican.

Miller's decision, while extremely unusual, is no surprise. He has been a reliable Republican vote on almost every issue before the Senate and a frequent critic of the Democratic Party and of Sen. John Kerry, the presumptive Democratic nominee.

The former Georgia governor has announced plans to retire when his term expires in 2005.

In March, when Miller announced he would back Bush in the election, the Kerry camp issued an extensive statement, saying that the two senators "have the exact same record when it comes to defending the nation" and quoting Miller praising Kerry.

Senior Democratic aides said they have long since given up trying to persuade Miller to be a more loyal Democrat.

"This is all about getting attention," said one aide. "His track record otherwise is very unimpressive."

A senior Democratic aide said Miller will speak the same night that California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger and former New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani address the convention.

The four-day GOP convention, at which President Bush will accept his party's nomination, is scheduled to start in New York City on August 30.

Miller's chief of staff Joan Kirchner would not confirm his appearance, and the Bush-Cheney camp had no comment.

Georgia's other senator is Republican Saxby Chambliss, who defeated incumbent Democrat Max Cleland for the seat in 2002.

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