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Inside Politics

Bush twins attend 'R: The Party'

The GOP convention's first big celebrity bash

By Susan Pettit

Jenna, left, and Barbara Bush
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America Votes 2004

NEW YORK (CNN) -- First twins Barbara and Jenna Bush, the president's 22-year-old daughters, made a Hollywood-style arrival Sunday at "R: The Party," the Republican convention's first big celebrity bash.

The twins rolled up in front of the Roseland Ballroom in Manhattan in a black luxury SUV and alighted for a "photo op" down a media-lined red carpet. Stylishly dressed in jeans and high-heels, the twins posed for photos, smiled and waved as they made their way into the party.

They did not speak to the media, despite shouts from hundreds of reporters and onlookers to "speak! speak!"

Inside, media were herded to a roped-off area for one-on-one interviews with "persons of interest," including World Wrestling Entertainment diva Ivory and WWE superstar Mark Henry, billed as the "World's Strongest Man." Henry won first place in the "World's Strongest Man" competition in the 2002 Arnold Schwarzenegger Classic.

Ivory said she was appearing in a "nonpartisan" capacity as part of Rock the Vote's effort to increase the number of young voters. "We're trying to get 20 million young people out to vote," she said.

Henry agreed, saying, "It's about getting people involved. If you vote, you win." To his wrestling fans, he promised, "I'm coming back soon."

More than 1,000 party-goers listened to a variety of live musical entertainment and danced between acts to music selected by a DJ. Huge TV screens over the stage mirrored the action on the dance floor.

Actor Stephen Baldwin was among those in the crowded ballroom, but he said he was not affiliated with a political party.

"I'm here to try to support faith-based politics," he said. He declined to name his candidate of choice, saying only that "I'm going to vote for the guy who will truly be led by God." Like President Bush, Baldwin is a born-again Christian.

Actress Angie Harmon and her husband, NFL player Jason Sehorn, were on the guest list, along with actress Bo Derek who made her way to the VIP lounge where the Bush daughters and their friends were said to be.

The daughters -- fraternal twins -- graduated from college in May and have just recently begun to publicly campaign for their father. They have focused some attention on turning out the youth vote. Bush's re-election campaign sent out an e-mail last week with a message from Jenna and Barbara Bush saying that less than half of 18- to 24-year-olds were registered to vote in the last election and that only 32 percent actually did vote.

On Monday, the daughters were scheduled to attend -- but not speak -- at a Bush-Cheney '04 event titled "W Stands for Women." Former first lady Barbara Bush, the twins' grandmother, and their aunt, Doro Bush Koch, also were slated to attend the event at the Waldorf-Astoria Hotel. It is one of several minor campaign appearances the daughters are expected to make during the convention.

The first daughters are not scheduled to speak on the floor of the convention hall as the daughters of Democratic nominee John Kerry did during the Democratic National Convention in Boston, Massachusetts, earlier this month.

However, they are slated to be in the convention hall at Madison Square Garden when first lady Laura Bush delivers a prime-time speech Tuesday and for their father's acceptance speech Thursday.

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