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Special Event

George W. Bush Stumps in South Carolina

Aired February 16, 2000 - 9:20 a.m. ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.

BILL HEMMER, CNN ANCHOR: George W. Bush now stumping in Hilton Head, South Carolina. As we dip into that, we will stop and listen for the Texas governor.

(JOINED IN PROGRESS)

GOV. GEORGE W. BUSH (R-TX), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: ... and who, in turn, earns the respect of the men and women in uniform. Those are some of the reasons why I have asked my beautiful family to join me in the quest to become your president.

For those of you who have made up your mind to vote for me: one, I'm grateful and humbled to have your support, and Saturday is the day, just remember Saturday. And if you're going, make sure you take some friends and relatives and neighbors with you.

Often times, people come to these rallies, they have got questions on their mind, or they just want to take a look. I affectionately call the undecideds "tire-kickers." And I appreciate you coming. And I want to thank you for giving me a chance. That's all I can ask. That you keep an open mind and give me a chance as election day approaches.

If you are for one of my two opponents, that's OK, just only vote one time.

But no matter who you are for, I understand my role is not only set an agenda, a profound agenda. You see, a leader can't be all things to all people. My agenda will be to strengthen the military to keep the peace, to have high standards and local control for schools, to keep our economy growing, and to make sure we fulfill the promise of Social Security and Medicare. That's my primary agenda. That I intend to take to the Congress should I become the president.

But there's a bigger role for the president. And that's to lift the sights and spirits of America; that's to lift our sights. You see, I believe this country can accomplish anything we put our mind to. And I know the Dow Jones industrial average soars. But there are some people who are saying this American dream isn't meant for me.

There is a gap of hope. And I am going to work hard to close the gap of hope. And it starts by trying to usher in the responsibility era; it starts by having a president who understands the great strength of America; lies in the hearts and souls of our citizens who have heard the universal call to love a neighbor just like you would like to be loved yourselves; its strength is in our soul, not in the halls of government. I will rally the armies of compassion, interface with people in need.

I am going to call on the best of America. And it starts the day I get sworn in as president. It starts when I put my hand on the bible that I will swear to not only uphold the laws of the land, I will swear to uphold the honor and the integrity of the office to which I have been elected, so help me God. Thank you all for coming.

HEMMER: We are back. Texas Governor George W. Bush continues his campaigning in South Carolina. We go back to Washington and Bill Schneider.

And correct me if I am wrong, Bill, you were talking about how much more assertive the Texas governor was last night in that debate with John McCain, Alan Keyes sitting in between the two of them. Is it me, or do we sense a sea change with the Texas governor now that he's been kind of slapped back a little bit ever since the New Hampshire primary?

WILLIAM SCHNEIDER, CNN SR. POLITICAL ANALYST: Well, I think he has found his voice, and he has come out as a fighter, and he has also found a target, which is one that may be working with Republicans. Last night, and by insinuation just now, he went after Bill Clinton. He said last night in the debate that his aim to end the Clinton era. He had, I think, the single best line in the debate when he said: No mothers and dads are naming their sons Bill Clinton.

He talks about the embarrassment Americans felts over the Clinton -- during the Clinton presidency. He acknowledged that, you know, things are doing very well in the country, but something is missing and Americans don't really respect their president as much as they want to.

And if there is anything that gets Republican partisan juices flowing, it is a real contempt for Bill Clinton, and that is exactly what George Bush rallied his party around last night.

HEMMER: One could sense that also watching and listening too. The other thing I want to pick up on, two weeks ago, when the whole Bush campaign went back to Austin, Texas, kind of re-focused their entire campaign, do you see direct changes and results of that on the campaign trail today?

SCHNEIDER: Well, certainly, he redesigned himself as a reformer with results, and that was deliberate. He went into McCain territory because he realized that the reason he lost New Hampshire was he didn't seem to have a message, or at least the messages he was trying to communicate about his record in Texas weren't really getting through, because, look, voters in South Carolina and New Hampshire don't know anything about hit record in Texas, and it is all hearsay and self-promotion. He had to come out with some bigger message.

And also the tax message really wasn't selling, that's the oddest thing. That usually does very well with a Republican audience. But this year, the demand for a huge tax cut just fell flat. And he had to have something else to say. And he does now.

HEMMER: Needless to say, it is getting interesting.

SCHNEIDER: It is indeed.

HEMMER: All right, Bill Schneider, thanks again live in Washington there.

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