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Inside Politics

Blog, Day 4: Thursday, September 2, 2004

Editor's Note: Follow all the action at the 2004 Republican National Convention with CNN correspondents, anchors, analysts and guests on this daily Weblog. All times are Eastern Daylight.

Readers write ...


Posted: 11:34 p.m. ET
From Todd Leopold,

Two quick reader e-mails about President Bush's speech:

From Phyllis in Dallas, Texas: "I don't think I have ever seen George Bush be more himself than in tonight's speech. He looked relaxed and spoke very well on issues important to all voters."

From Herb in Bradenton, Florida: "The dog and pony show is over. It was done with amazing, theatrical smoke and mirrors."

Balloon drop

Posted: 11:15 p.m. ET
From Todd Leopold,

Balloons are currently dropping -- in lazy stages (deliberate? or another "Go balloons!" problem?) -- on Madison Square Garden with the conclusion of President Bush's one-hour speech. The music playing: Jackie DeShannon's much-covered "Put a Little Love in Your Heart."


Posted: 10:48 p.m. ET
From Todd Leopold,

It sounded like a small group of people inside the arena just heckled Bush's speech. They were drowned out by calls of "four more years" and possibly escorted out. Details as they come.

[Postscript, 11:10 p.m.: Cameras at the time, not visible to me, caught a lone figure being escorted out.]

Tech savvy

Posted: 10:38 p.m. ET
From Todd Leopold,

Both President Bush and Sen. John Kerry used their Web site URLs in their acceptance speeches. In Bush's case, it may have been the first time a sitting president made reference to his own Web site in an acceptance speech. Neither Bush nor Al Gore were sitting presidents in 2000, and Bill Clinton's 1996 acceptance happened during the Web's early days.

Bush's reference to the Internet received a laugh from the audience.

Applause meter

Posted: 10:12 p.m. ET
From Todd Leopold,

President Bush received about 1 minute, 37 seconds of applause upon his introduction, and about another 20 seconds of "Four more years" cheers after that.


Posted: 10:04 p.m. ET
From Todd Leopold,

Song that played after Gov. George Pataki's speech: "Jump, Jive and Wail," the old Louis Prima tune covered by Brian Setzer.

Larry King blogs

Posted: 10:00 p.m. ET
From Larry King, host, "Larry King Live"

It's a new thrill to me to blog ... and I may become a permanent blogger. In fact, blogging could become my life.

If you're wondering why President Bush hasn't spoken yet, he's waiting for 30 seconds so that CBS, NBC and ABC can join. Just thought you'd like to know.

MSG-area lockdown

Posted: 9:51 p.m. ET
From Thom Patterson,

As the time for President Bush's acceptance speech approached, authorities blocked streets and avenues within a few blocks of Madison Square Garden not just to all non-emergency vehicles, but also to pedestrians who wanted to cross.

Throngs of pedestrians in lines five-deep rimmed the streets within sight of the Garden, temporarily helpless to move anywhere but away from the hall because police were blocking them to provide security for the president.

Outside the CNN Diner, many of the pedestrians listened to New York Gov. George Pataki's introduction speech on a CNN audio feed that was being piped into the street.

Eventually, people were allowed to cross the street -- except toward the Garden -- and taxis were allowed to use one of the nearby avenues.

Readers write ...

Posted: 9:39 p.m. ET
From Todd Leopold,

As the time for President Bush's speech nears, last night is still on readers' minds:

  • Mark from Chicago, Illinois: Lincoln in the building? I don't think Lincoln would recognize today's Republican Party.
  • Mike from Slinger, Wisconsin: Zell Miller said things that I believe.
  • Tim from Springfield, Massachusetts: Last night, Zell Miller and Dick Cheney both took swipes at Massachusetts. ... Why is it OK to bash Massachusetts?
  • Democrat sightings

    Posted: 9:10 p.m. ET
    From Greg Botelho,

    You won't just find Republicans at the Republican convention. There are a number of Democrats here, whether they're commenting on the proceedings or a part of them.

    "Enemy" sightings in Madison Square Garden include former New York Gov. Mario Cuomo, Democratic National Committee Chairman Terry McAuliffe and anti-Bush filmmaker (and favorite GOP punching bag) Michael Moore.

    Two former Democratic stalwarts, Georgia Sen. Zell Miller and former New York Mayor Ed Koch, have spoken on the convention floor in support of President Bush. And then there is the enigmatic Don King, who told he's a "Republicrat" and has been practically omnipresent in and around the arena.


    Posted: 8:51 p.m. ET
    From Todd Leopold,

    The crowd is standing room only in the upper deck of Madison Square Garden, including a number of people in evening dress -- gowns and suits. It's a much different look than that of an upper-deck crowd at a Rangers game.

    Applause meter

    Posted: 8:35 p.m. ET
    From Todd Leopold,

    Gen. Tommy Franks, just taking the podium, earned about 40 seconds of applause for his arrival -- an unofficial tops for the convention.

    Presidential guests

    Posted: 7:36 p.m. ET
    From Todd Leopold,

    Among the guests in the presidential box: adviser Condoleezza Rice; New York Gov. George Pataki and his wife, Libby Pataki; Gen. Tommy Franks and his wife, Cathy Franks; Texas Railroad Commissioner Michael Williams and his wife, Donna Williams; and performer Michael W. Smith and his wife, Debbie Smith.

    'Looking forward to the fight'

    Posted: 7:21 p.m. ET
    From CNN's Joe Johns, with the Kerry campaign

    Democratic presidential nominee Sen. John Kerry is not expected to immediately respond to tonight's nomination acceptance speech by President Bush. Kerry is set to speak later tonight at a rally Springfield, Ohio, according to an aide.

    Instead, Kerry will talk about his own message, saying he is "looking forward to the fight," said Kerry spokeswoman Allison Dobson.

    "They've had four nights of unprecedented negativity," Dobson said. "We are going to talk about our message."

    Kerry's running mate, Sen. John Edwards, also is scheduled to appear, kicking off a 26-event, seven-state, three-day campaign swing.

    Five to one -- no, wait ...

    Posted: 6:21 p.m. ET
    From Todd Leopold,

    The most overused statistic of the convention has nothing to do with job numbers, military hardware or delegate counts.

    It's this: "Democrats outnumber Republicans 5-to-1 in New York."

    Intrepid writer Bryan Long did a Google search and turned up some surprising news: Democrats do not outnumber Republicans 5-to-1. Or maybe they do, depending on who you listen to.

    An article in the Christian Science Monitorexternal link puts the ratio at 4-to-1. A Washington Postexternal link travel piece says it's greater than 5-to-1. The Associated Press carefully notes that it's "registered Democrats" who outnumber Republicans by the famous ratio. And a 2001 piece from a Joseph Mercurioexternal link says that the Board of Elections lists registration of 2.4 million Democrats and 400,000 Republicans, but because of flaws in the voting rolls, there are more likely 2 million Democrats and 350,000 Republicans, which is practically 6-to-1.

    Regardless, odds are better than 5-to-1 you've read or heard that stat somewhere. Like this blog.

    Lincoln is in the building

    Posted: 5:50 p.m. ET
    From Greg Botelho,

    The Republicans are known as "the party of Lincoln," but the 16th president hasn't been around for awhile to hear it.

    But Abraham Lincoln made a grand reappearance, of sorts, in the Republican fold this week -- in the form of Robert E. Smith, an alternate delegate from Pennsylvania, who put on a top hat and long, black dress coat to walk around Madison Square Garden.

    While the 6-foot-4 Lincoln would have had about a full foot -- not to mention a legitimate beard, compared to the entirely artificial variety -- on Smith, there was no mistaking the resemblance. Smith, a school director from Allentown, said he dressed up as the nation's 16th president to get into the political spirit.

    He said he also figured playing Lincoln would play well on the streets of New York. Though Democrats outnumber Republicans by a 5-to-1 margin in the city, few political figures are as beloved as "Honest Abe."

    Bloggers talk

    Posted: 3:25 p.m. ET
    From Thom Patterson,

    Students from Columbia University and University of California-Berkeley have been blogging the Republican convention this week with camera phones that allow them to send information and images to their Cingular-sponsored weblogexternal link.

    Here's what the young bloggers are saying about their RNC experience:

    - "I like telling [my] subjects, 'This will be up on the Web in 10 minutes," said Columbia's Mark Fass.

    - "This form of reporting opens up more lines of communication and additional interviews because the people that I am speaking with are curious about what I am doing," said Jessica Munoz, of Berkeley.

    - "Whatever your politics or party affiliation, it's inspiring to see so many people speaking out and getting involved," said Noah Reibel of Columbia.

    - "This experience has been very challenging and very rewarding," said Columbia's Susan Witty. "I have enjoyed being a pioneer of this new technology."

    Bad 'photo op'

    Posted: 2:59 p.m. ET
    From Todd Leopold,

    Pulitzer Prize-winning "Maus" author Art Spiegelman has a new book out, "In the Shadow of No Towers" (Pantheon), which concerns how the author, a New Yorker to his core, grappled with 9/11 and its aftermath.

    You can imagine he's not pleased with the Republican convention coming to town.

    "They can say they ain't exploiting [9/11], but I'm not buying it any more than I believe there are weapons of mass destruction waiting to be found in Iraq. This is strictly a photo op that went slightly wrong," he said in an interview Thursday morning.

    The twins' speechwriter

    Posted: 2:04 p.m. ET
    From Todd Leopold,

    Most media outlets and commentators -- whether left or right -- didn't think muchexternal link of the Bush twins' speech Tuesday night. Indeed, The New York Times asks, "Did the Bush campaign let the twins write their own speech? If not, does the person who wrote it still have a job?"

    Well, according to the "Today's Papers" column in Slateexternal link, the person who wrote the speech was longtime Bush adviser Karen Hughes. One supposes she won't be losing her job over it.

    Off and running (almost)

    Posted: 1:20 p.m. ET
    From Thom Patterson,

    The Kerry/Edwards campaign announced today its first two TV ads in the post-convention run-up to Election Day -- "Economy-Ohio" and "Time." The first ad obviously is about jobs lost from Ohio's economy. "Time" is about so-called outsourcing of U.S. jobs to other countries. The commercials are part of a $50-million ad buy announced this week, according to the campaign.

    After a Kerry/Edwards rally -- set for midnight tonight -- the candidates and their wives are scheduled to split into four separate tours of important states where polls show the presidential race to be very close.

    Readers write ...

    Posted: 12:47 p.m. ET
    From Todd Leopold,

    The vast majority of e-mail received here in CNN Blogland -- and we got more than 100 e-mails between midnight and noon -- was about Zell Miller, and writers were as passionate in their opinions as Sen. Miller was in his:

  • Pro-Zell: "Thank God some people like Zell Miller are still in USA" (David, The Netherlands); "Zell Miller hit the nail right on the head" (Catherine, Memphis, Tennessee); "Probably most of America had no idea what language Zell Miller was speaking. It was called TRUTH" (Anne, Johnson City, Tennessee); "There's the saying 'If the shoe fits, wear it.' Cheney and Miller both put a shoe on Kerry" (Cliff, Pensacola, Florida).
  • Anti-Zell: "Ugly vitriol" (Andrea, Virginia City, Nevada); "Completely unhinged" (D, Marietta, Georgia); "The negativity, anger and hatred on display by Zell Miller and Dick Cheney were a huge turn-off" (Shawn, cyberspace); "[Zell], you bring shame on yourself" (Jeff, Carbondale, Illinois).
  • There were also these, received one after the other Wednesday night:

  • Mary Ann from cyberspace: "This has been the most inspiring, positive and truthful convention I have ever watched."
  • Jenna from Arlington, Virginia: "When are you going to comment on the vicious, negative Republican convention?"
  • Carolers in September

    Posted: 11:57 a.m. ET
    From Todd Leopold,

    From a distance, the group gathered late Wednesday night in front of the Sheraton New York Hotel and Towers sounded like Christmas carolers -- a handful of singers with warm, a capella harmonies, being "conducted" by a man on the sidewalk. But its message, sung to the tune of "The Star-Spangled Banner," was a bit more convention-seasonal: "Stop the war stop the war, stop the war stop the war ..."

    After it finished, the conductor introduced the group as "Harmonic Insurgence." No idea if a medley of early Bob Dylan and Phil Ochs tunes followed.

    Cheney's sparring partner

    Posted: 11:00 a.m. ET
    From CNN's Dana Bash and Ed Henry

    President Bush hasn't even taken the stage yet for tonight's RNC nomination acceptance speech, and already the party is out of the gate in the race for the White House.

    Coming off his address last night criticizing the Kerry/Edwards ticket, Vice President Dick Cheney let it out during breakfast with Ohio delegates this morning that Rep. Rob Portmanexternal link, R-Ohio, will be "playing" his Democratic opponent, Sen. John Edwards, in preparations for at least one veep debate anticipated before Election Day.

    Portman and Cheney have met twice already at Cheney's residence in Washington, a GOP official tells CNN. In 2000, Portman served as Cheney's stand-in for Democratic vice presidential candidate Sen. Joseph Lieberman. Portman studied tapes of Lieberman from the Sunday talk shows and eventually developed an impressive Lieberman impersonation.

    "I have trouble thinking of Rob as Rob," Cheney said this morning. "I don't know how many of you know, he is my debate preparation opponent. This is Sen. John Edwards. Stand up, Rob. Let them look at you. But [Rob] is a lot prettier."

    Portman's district is located in the southern part of Ohio, a key presidential battleground state.

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