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Special Event

Republican National Convention: Nicholson, Harrison Address Delegates

Aired July 31, 2000 - 10:30 a.m. ET

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

BERNARD SHAW, CNN ANCHOR: The Republican Convention, under way, here in Philadelphia, the 37th quadrennial convention. Inside this hall, to the sounds of "Stand by Me," during this musical interlude. The delegates are dressed to the nines, the twos, the ones, the fives and let's call this a four.

JUDY WOODRUFF, CNN ANCHOR: Is this a compassionate theme or not, Bernie? I mean, it was "Fanfare for the Common Man" that they got underway with and now, it's "Stand by Me."

SHAW: And, pulling up a chair, analyst Bill Schneider.

WILLIAM SCHNEIDER, CNN SR. ANALYST: Bernie, you know, I've been looking for that public opinion for the last 30 years -- shouldn't say that -- and, if I have to say what was the single biggest trend that I've seen it is declining trust in government, increasing cynicism about public officials.

This was created by a lot of bad news. Back in the '60s, it was bad news about racial violence, the war in Vietnam, Senator Daniel Patrick Moynihan said we declared a war on poverty and poverty won, culminating in Proposition 13 in the -- in 1978, when people turned on government with a vengeance and that gave Republicans an opening to implement an anti-government agenda.

Finally, in 1996, President Bill Clinton said the era of big government is over. No sooner did Clinton say that, than look what happened. Let's see where the voters are. Where are they on trusting government now? Trusting government has been going up in the 1990s. The trend has reversed. It's almost doubled, as you can see, since 1992, that the number of Americans who say they can trust the government, the federal government, in Washington, to do the right thing all or most of the time, is up to almost half the voters. When it comes to government, that's pretty high.

What happened was, of course, the Republican Congress seemed to go to the extreme, threatening the safety net, the government shut down of 1995 and '96 and then, the tragic Oklahoma City bombing, which had nothing to do with the Republican Party, but shocked the country to see how extreme hatred of government could become in this country.

Bush is now pulling the Republicans to the center. He's saying good things about government. They do a few things, but government ought to do them well.

SHAW: OK. Thank you Bill Schneider.

WOODRUFF: Bill Schneider. And, as we continue to listen to the strains of "Stand by Me," let's go down on the floor. Our own Jeanne Meserve, of the state of Michigan and a pretty key political figure in that state -- Jeanne.

JEANNE MESERVE, CNN CORRESPONDENT: That's right. Governor Engler, with me here now. Governor, education, one of your big issues as governor, are you happy with what the platform says on that issue?

GOV. JOHN ENGLER (R), MICHIGAN: I think it's a very solid platform and George Bush has made it a point everywhere he's been in America to talk about leaving no child behind and that's his mission. And I think this is going to help us gain votes in urban communities, where Democrats have been in charge for a long time. And frankly, a lot of kids have been left behind and forgotten about. And so, I hope George Bush continues to stress it. I know he will. It's going to be a hallmark. He doesn't want to take over the schools. He just wants to provide the bully pulpit for the presidency to say -- look, accountability everywhere, no child left behind.

MESERVE: The polls right now in your state, neck and neck. You were not able to deliver Michigan to George Bush in the primaries. Do you think you're going to be able to deliver it in the general election?

ENGLER: Well, the one thing we did deliver is about 1.3 million more votes in the Republican primary than in the Democrats' closed caucuses. So, we think the level of enthusiasm for the Republican candidate is very high. John McCain was very gracious yesterday in releasing all the delegates. We've got a large McCain delegation here and they're solidly now behind George Bush.

MESERVE: They were a little upset at how things played out within your delegation however. They -- a number of them were bumped off the delegate list and Bush people put in just before John McCain released his delegates. Is there any ill -- lingering ill-will within your delegation?

ENGLER: I don't think so. And actually, that -- what that resulted from was maybe a lack of understanding. These are all picked at the congressional district level. The at-large slate, which I, as a governor, have a little bit of control over was letter perfect for John McCain.

But, in some of these congressional districts, he had people who had never been to a convention before showing up and telling people who'd been to, you know, multiple conventions and was going to get their first opportunity to go to the national convention -- no, they have to step aside. And they said -- wait a minute. What do you mean step aside? Who are you? And so, there were a few glitches like that, but nothing serious, and everybody's working hard.

MESERVE: Jeff Greenfield wants to ask you a question and he's up in the booth. I'll translate for you because of our technical situation.

JEFF GREENFIELD, CNN SR. ANALYST: I just want the governor to tell us, how do you appeal to the so-called Reagan Democrats in the face of this astonishingly good economy after eight years of Clinton/Gore? What do you say to those people who came back for the Democrats in Macomb County and elsewhere, to get them to go back to Republicans?

MESERVE: OK. Talking about the Reagan Democrats, Bush is interested in knowing how you appeal to them. How do you bring them back to the Republican fold?

ENGLER: I didn't hear that question. I'm sorry.

MESERVE: The Reagan Democrats. In this wonderful economy, how do you bring them back to the Republican Party?

ENGLER: Well, there are a lot of Reagan Democrat or some are even Engler Republicans now in Michigan. But, for -- during the '80s and '90s, they've had some pretty good times. They've built a lot of cars and trucks.

Al Gore worries auto workers. These men and women who are UAW members and work in the plants are very concerned about Gore policies, which might have everybody parking their SUVs. And you park them, you aren't going to build them, and we build them. So, I think there's a great concern about his approach on that issue. That's a -- that's a key issue for our state.

There are other issues also, where there's a Second Amendment rights, simply tax cuts. If you've got two members in the same UAW household, both working in the plant, they're well above what Al Gore calls is the cut off for the rich. They're $100,000-plus incomes easily. And so, they're looking at a little bit more of their tax dollars staying with them. They're working hard.

So, I think Bush has got a very solid message for Reagan Democrats. And, he's willing to go ask for the order and he's the most vigorous Republican candidate since Ronald Reagan in 1980 and that's going to make a big difference.

MESERVE: And we'll leave it there. Governor John Engler, of Michigan, thanks so much for joining us. Now, back to Bernie.

SHAW: Thank you, Jeanne. Governor Engler representing one of the 30 state houses controlled by the Republicans.

John King, on the floor, has another Republican governor.

JOHN KING, CNN CORRESPONDNET: And Bernie, one of the key Bush strategies is to watch closely and study these Republican governors. I'm with the host governor here on the floor, Tom Ridge of Pennsylvania.

Governor Engler was just discussing Reagan Democrats. Governor Ridge, in his earlier life, served six terms in the House from Erie, Pennsylvania, a Democratic blue collar district that you won as a Republican. Bill Clinton carried this state twice. How do you help Governor Bush take Pennsylvania, a key battleground, in the fall? And what does he need to do to win over those blue collar voters?

GOV. TOM RIDGE (R), PENNSYLVANIA: I think you set the question correctly because we know it'll be a tough battle. President Clinton and Vice President Gore did carry the state twice. But, I think one of the reasons that all the governors unanimously and enthusiastically embrace Governor Bush is we all think we practice the politics of compassionate conservatism in dealing with issues that people care about, education of their kids, safety in the streets, the environment, job creation.

And I think the key in Pennsylvania, one, is to get a convention here or to get a convention at least in the Northeast, and concede no issue, concede no region, read every voter as an opportunity. And I think, with Governor Bush's commitment to expend time and resources in Pennsylvania and stay on message, stay positive and talk about the future, I think it's a winning message.

KING: You are one of the governors that Governor Bush considered as a potential vice presidential prospect. When your name came up, many conservatives in the party voiced outrage because you are a supporter of limited abortion rights. The party platform will be adopted today. Obviously, it is very strict on the abortion issue. How do you, as a governor in your state, and how does Governor Bush navigate that chasm in the party?

RIDGE: Well, I think, first of all, it's interesting to note that, in a poll, 50 percent of the delegates here -- and we still are a pro-life party -- but 50 percent of the delegates said that they would have accepted a pro-choice running mate. And two, I want to remind Pennsylvanians particularly, that while I differ with my nominee on that issue, I'm speaking at this convention. My predecessor, Bob Casey, differed with his nominee on that issue, and the Democrats didn't let him speak.

So, I think, while people pay attention to the language and the platform, what they ought to do is see how Republicans treat each other. We understand there's elected officials who view this very difficult subject. We have -- there's a diversity of opinion. But, the Republicans are letting this governor speak in a very prominent way they didn't let my predecessor speak in the Democratic convention. That's a good message. I'll remind Pennsylvania of that.

KING: All right. We thank you for your time. We'll visit with you throughout the convention. Now, back up to the booth and Bernie.

SHAW: Thank you. And quickly, back to the podium, Republican National Committee Chairman Jim Nicholson, who was up here just a short while ago, is welcoming the delegates. Let's listen in.

JIM NICHOLSON, RNC CHAIRMAN: And that will be George W. Bush and Richard B. Cheney.

My friends. this is going to be the best convention we have ever had. A different kind of convention for a different kind of Republican. As your party chairman, I can tell you we are more united, more enthused, more excited about our prospects this fall than I can ever remember.

And -- and that's because we have a fantastic ticket. George Bush is running a positive, winning campaign offering reforms to improve our schools and close the achievement gap. Save and strengthen social security, rebuild our military. Give tax relief to working families, rally the armies of compassion and restore honor and dignity to the White House.

And Dick Cheney, Dick Cheney is the Cal Ripken -- Dick Cheney is the Cal Ripken of American politics. A bona fide hall of famer, who has served at the highest levels of government for two decades.

Governor Bush's positive vision for the future is based on our core Republican principles: individual freedom, limited government, personal responsibility and economic opportunity. And we are going to spend -- we -- you and I are going to spend the next 99 days beginning right here, right now sharing this message with the American people.

Ladies and gentlemen. it's time to nominate and elect George W. Bush and Dick Cheney.

ANNOUNCER: Ladies and gentlemen, please welcome to the co-chair of the Republican National Committee, Pat Harrison.

WOODRUFF: Pat Harrison, we just heard from the party chair, Jim Nicholson. Pat Harrison, her title is co-chair of the Republican National Committee. She was reelected to that position about a year and a half ago.

PAT HARRISON, RNC CO-CHAIRMAN: Good morning. Welcome to Philadelphia and the Republican National Convention.

Ladies and gentlemen, as Republicans, we are tasked with a great mission and a profound responsibility. The nomination of George W. Bush for president of the United States. A leader who understands that there is one American dream, a dream of freedom and liberty, but it depends on so many different American dreamers of every race and heritage.

As the first co-chairman of the Republican National Committee of Italian heritage, I have traveled to every states and territory, to large cities and small towns. And I have seen first-hand the dream in action. Ordinary people doing extraordinary things for family, for community, for country.

Every American stands on the shoulders of giants, our parents and grandparents who sacrificed so much to bring us to this good place of freedom and opportunity. Let us honor their sacrifice by electing a president who is committed to ending the soft bigotry of low expectations. A president -- a president who is committed to making sure that every child whatever their race or heritage receives a first class grade A education. A president who understands that reducing taxes gives Americans something more precious more than money, it gives them time for family, community and country.

A president who believes that there are no second class American dreams and that wise policies can help lift every American to prosperity. No one race, no one heritage, no one religion owns the American dream. It belongs to all of us.

Let us nominate and elect George W. Bush President so that we can show the world, and more importantly show our children, just how great the dream can really be.

Thank you.

GREENFIELD: We're going to hear next from Pennsylvania Senator Arlen Spector, who is 70 years old. He began his career in politics as a DA, the District Attorney of Philadelphia. He tried to become mayor of Philadelphia and lost.

His political career was resurrected when he was elected to the United States Senate where he has served I believe for 20 years. He briefly tried to run for President four years ago, the campaign ended really before it began. And he's probably best known as one of the key players in 1991's Senate Judiciary Committee hearings during the nomination to the Supreme Court of Clarence Thomas, when he become Anita Hill's I would say chief adversary on that committee.

WOODRUFF: Indeed he was Jeff. And while we're talking about Senator Specter, we want to point out that, at this point, this convention is running maybe 12-13 minutes ahead of time. They are so on schedule that they're ahead of schedule.

GREENFIELD: I owe them an apology. I mentioned that the conventions never run on time, this one's faster than that.

WOODRUFF: On time.

GREENFIELD: A different kind of convention.

SHAW: Give it time.

GREENFIELD: No, not in the television age, Bernie. I have a feeling they're going to run pretty close to schedule at night.

WOODRUFF: Senator Specter, of course, the senior senator from the state of Pennsylvania.

SEN. ARLEN SPECTER (R), PENNSYLVANIA: Thank you, very much Pat. Good morning, ladies and gentlemen and special greetings to that very prominent delegation, the Pennsylvania delegation. Seated along side the prominent Texas delegation.

As the -- as the hometown senator, I'm delighted to welcome Governor Bush and Secretary Cheney, the next president and vice president of the United States of America.

And I'm -- I'm pleased to include within that welcome the entire Republican team to Philadelphia, my hometown. Philadelphia, the cradle of American democracy and the launching pad for Republicans to recapture the White House in November.

Gone -- gone are the days when W.C. Fields wanted his students to go, inscribed on the whole, I'd rather be in Philadelphia. If he were here today, he would marvel at the city of Philadelphia and say I wish I'd spent a lot more time in Philadelphia.

We're here today to win this town over, to show Philadelphia and the nation that Republican values of fiscal conservatism, hard work, tolerance and inclusion are the best recipes for running a city or a country. The Bush-Cheney approach of compassionate conservatism should appeal to Philadelphians, as well as all Americans in addressing the key issues of health care, social security, education, crime control and the environment.

I say Philadelphia should be a Republican town the way it used to be. After all -- I don't mind being interrupted for applause. After all, Philadelphia hosted the first Republican convention in 1856 leading the way to the election of President Abraham Lincoln in 1860.

Since then, Philadelphians have welcomed Republicans four times and have selected many winners for the presidency. And now, we're back in Philadelphia in 2000 to launch another new century with another winner, Governor George Bush of Texas.

Our party -- our party is more inclusive, more diverse and more representative of America than ever before. But, we're still the party of limited government. And nobody put it better than Barry Goldwater, who said "we've got to get the government off our backs, out of our pocketbooks and out of our bedrooms." And that's a -- that's a mantra for victory this year.

I hope all of you will take some time this week to step outside and explore our city, the city of brotherly love, and sample our world-class art, our world-class culture and our world-class cuisine. No American city has a richer history. The first Continental Congress met here in 1774. The Declaration of Independence was signed here in 1776. And the Constitution was signed here in 1787. And now is the time to present a united front to move forward to the year 2000 and elect the Bush/Cheney team.

Thank you and welcome to Philadelphia.

WOODRUFF: Senator Arlen Specter saying -- I think, repeating a theme we're going to hear over and over again -- a compassionate conservative team of Bush-Cheney, the compassionate conservative team of Bush/Cheney. We're all going to be saying this in our sleep by Thursday night. What do you think?

GREENFIELD: I think you're absolutely right. I also think that he is appropriate to mourn the passing of Republicans here. The last time a Republican -- they used to elect mayors here of the Republican Party. It's been about 48 years since they last had one. And we heard the first reference from the podium to one of those issues that we tend to talk a lot about. He quoted Barry Goldwater as saying he wants the government out of our pocketbooks and out of our bedrooms. Unless I'm wrong, I think that was a very, or perhaps not so subtle references to, the abortion.

WOODRUFF: Not so subtle.

SHAW: Specter talking about tolerance and inclusion 144 years ago -- it was 1856 -- and when Republicans held their first convention here, they came here talking about freeing the slaves.

GREENFIELD: Absolutely.

SCHNEIDER: That's the principle the Republican Party was founded on. This state, Pennsylvania, has a long tradition of moderate Republicanism. Bill Scranton, who tried to stop Barry Goldwater, was from Pennsylvania, Hugh Stah (ph), the famous senator from Pennsylvania. Arlen Specter, of course, thought about running for president as a moderate Republican, and got exactly nowhere.

It's a very unusual state, a real battleground. This state voted for Bill Clinton twice, 1992 and 1996. But, it's got a Republican governor, two Republican senators and Republicans control both houses in the state legislature.

WOODRUFF: We should note that the city of Philadelphia went after both conventions with the philosophy of the former Mayor Ed Rendell.

GREENFIELD: Yes.

WOODRUFF: You know, we'll get one of them. We may not -- we won't get both, but we'll get one. And his argument was we ought to go after both, because it's good for the city. This city is going to make millions of dollars, meaning its businesses, not the city.

SHAW: Plus, Rendell made a promise that, if he got the Republican convention, he would wear a tie with elephants on it. But...

WOODRUFF: So, we got to get a close up of his tie today.

GREENFIELD: But, there's a reason why he's not doing it so far -- because Ed Rendell is now general chairman of the Democratic National Committee. And -- I mean, talk about being torn between loyalties here. I think we have to keep a close eye on the tie situation...

SHAW: Exactly.

GREENFIELD: ... to see whether or not the Democratic national chair is going to appear in public with an elephant on his tie. This could be the biggest news of the convention.

SHAW: Well, I've got my binoculars and I'm going to keep an eye pealed.

WOODRUFF: And, as we're moving closer to some remarks from the mayor of this city, John Street, we're going to take a break. We'll be back with more live coverage of this Republican convention. TO ORDER A VIDEO OF THIS TRANSCRIPT, PLEASE CALL 800-CNN-NEWS OR USE OUR SECURE ONLINE ORDER FORM LOCATED AT www.fdch.com

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