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Special Event

Republican National Convention: Mayor Street, Sen. Lott Address Delegates

Aired July 31, 2000 - 10:55 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: We're taking you away from Philadelphia for a moment. Everyone is waiting for Texas Governor George Bush to arrive here in Dayton, Ohio, for Bush's rally. He should be along shortly.

No Republican has lost the buckeye state and gone on to win the White House -- as he wends his way toward Philadelphia.

Here in the hall, Candy Crowley. We'll come back to Candy in just a moment -- Judy .

JUDY WOODRUFF, CNN ANCHOR: But, what we want to do first, before we hear from Candy, is hear from the mayor of Philadelphia. His name is John Street. He's 56 years old. He was elected last November, defeating a Republican very narrowly. He's the city's second African- American mayor.

MAYOR JOHN STREET (D), PHILADELPHIA: All right. On behalf of 1.5 million Philadelphians, welcome to the city of brotherly love. Thank you.

Working with Philadelphia 2000, our host committee, and my good friend, Governor Tom Ridge -- Governor Tom Ridge, this city has made - thank you -- this city has made the successful preparation for this convention one of its highest priorities.

Your convention marks the culmination of a 20-year commitment by our city to establish Philadelphia as a premier destination place in America. If you have not -- if you have not been to Philadelphia lately, we cannot wait to show you the new Philadelphia, our new skyline, our world-class restaurants and hotels, our exciting night life and great cultural attractions.

Philadelphia is the birthplace of our nation, a city whose historical significance attracts visitors from around the world. Legend has it that Thomas Jefferson wrote the first draft of the Declaration of Independence at a back table in the Old City Tavern on Second Street.

And it's a fact that runaway slaves found shelter in the basement of Mother Bethel AME Church, one of the stations of the Underground Railroad. We encourage you to experience our history, from Independence Hall to Valley Forge. But, we are more. It is in our neighborhoods that you will find the greatness of Philadelphia. We invite you to see Chinatown, to see the Italian market, or take in the night life on the waterfront, see a production on the Avenue of the Arts or North Philadelphia's Freedom Theater. Enjoy a bike ride in the park or stroll along the street in Manny Young (ph), do a little shopping.

We take great pride in our communities, but there is much to do. My vision of a better Philadelphia includes a commitment to eliminating blight, improving our school system and ensuring enhanced levels of public safety and improving the overall quality of life in neighborhoods in our city. Philadelphia's challenges are shared by many of America's cities in the 21st century. It will be our collective responsibility to keep the health and well-being of cities across the nation at the top of the national agenda in years to come.

Once again...

SHAW: Do you think this mayor likes Philadelphia?

JEFF GREENFIELD, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL ANALYST: It just goes to show what happens when you get elected to a job like this. Here is the mayor of Philadelphia doing what mayors are supposed to do, touting the restaurants and the hotels, skylines, urging tourists to come.

When he was in the city council, Mayor Street was one of the most -- how shall I put this? -- intense protesters, dissenters from what was going on. He actually led some events in the city council that come under the heading of close to civil disobedience. But now he is in the mayor's chair and, you know, Democrat, Republican, black, white, the color of green, the money of tourists and conventions trumps everything if you're the mayor facing the kind of budget woes John Street is.

SHAW: Of course, you remember what LBJ said about wanting someone inside the tent...

WILLIAM SCHNEIDER, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL ANALYST: Well, let's not...

(CROSSTALK)

GREENFIELD: Don't go there, Bernie!

SHAW: I'm sorry about that.

OK, let's go down to that Texas delegation. Candy Crowley has a guest who has a very special honor this morning.

Candy?

CANDY CROWLEY, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Bernie, I'm standing here with the lieutenant governor of Texas. We just heard the governor's arriving in Dayton. It kind of makes me want to ask who's running the place, but you know, I'll assume you have it under control. LT. GOV. RICK PERRY, TEXAS DELEGATION CHAIRMAN: Indeed we do.

CROWLEY: So you are chairman of this delegation. What's your other role in this convention?

PERRY: Well, obviously, to share with everyone about who George Bush is on a real personal basis. George and I have known each other for a long time, and he's campaigned for me, and I've campaigned for him. We've governed together. So I think I have a unique perspective of who George Bush is and what the people of America can expect from him.

CROWLEY: And you're a former Democrat.

PERRY: That's correct. I joined the Republican Party in the late '80s. Matter of fact, George W. Bush was one of the people who proselytized me back in the late '80s and brought me on board.

CROWLEY: Let me ask you something. If George Bush should become president, that leaves you in the driver's seat, and you move up to the governorship. Has there been any discussion between the two of you about handing over the reins prior to any election?

PERRY: Well, there -- there has not been. Obviously, we work very closely together. Our staffs work very closely together. When George is out of state, we are the acting governor. So regardless of who -- what happens in November, the transition will occur rather smoothly. The issues of our children's education, of infrastructure -- they'll still be very much the focus of the Texas and Texas legislature.

CROWLEY: OK, thanks very much.

PERRY: You're welcome.

CROWLEY: Lieutenant Governor Rick Perry.

Bernie, back to you.

SHAW: Thank you.

WOODRUFF: And from the state of a gentleman who would be president to the state of someone who already is president, Arkansas. Our own Frank Sesno's down there.

Frank?

FRANK SESNO, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Judy, thanks very much.

I'm with the governor of the state -- Governor Mike Huckabee, from the state where Bill Clinton comes from. And that is one thing conspicuous by its absence here, references to Bill Clinton, the character issue, that sort of thing. Why?

GOV. MIKE HUCKABEE, ARKANSAS DELEGATION CHAIRMAN: I think one of the things George Bush is doing right in this convention is steering us away from bashing the other guys. You know, we've had "red meat" conventions in the past. This is political vegetarianism. We're not going after the throats of the Democrats. We're talking about what's right with America, and I think George Bush is exactly on target.

SESNO: In previous conventions, this "red meat" you talk about was all part of energizing the base of the party. What happened to the base? What happened to energizing?

HUCKABEE: The base is energized. The base of the Republican Party wants George Bush to be president because they believe in him. They know what kind of president he's going to be. We don't have to energize the base. We're hungry to have the White House back to put some honor and integrity back in it. We think George W. Bush is the guy to do that.

SESNO: And Clinton's not relevant?

HUCKABEE: I think he's no longer a factor. He has a few months left in office, and we're looking forward to the next term, and we're not looking behind. This is a time -- the windshield's bigger than the rear-view mirror, and we're looking in the windshield.

SESNO: Governor Mike Huckabee, thanks very much.

I want to throw it back to the booth. One thing I want to point out, though. In a conversation with John McCain, when he was running for president, he said his biggest surprise out there, Judy, Bernie, was that impeachment and the Clinton issue played almost no role.

Back to you.

WOODRUFF: Some pretty colorful language, Frank, from Governor Huckabee -- "political vegetarianism." That's one we're going to have to chew on a little bit around here.

SHAW: As opposed to "red meat" speeches.

WOODRUFF: That's right. And then the windshield being bigger than the rear-view mirror. I guess that's another forward-looking theme that we're hearing from...

GREENFIELD: He may have just lost...

WOODRUFF: ... from the Republicans.

GREENFIELD: ... a couple of those Western grain states like South Dakota, that raise all that beef. I'm not sure you want to be talking vegetarianism at this convention.

WOODRUFF: Oh, well. Well, we're just a few minutes away, we think, from a tribute to two prominent men who've been part of the Republican Party, senators, United States senators from the states of Rhode Island and Georgia, one of them, Paul Coverdell, died not very long ago.

Bill? SCHNEIDER: Yes. These are two seats that were held by Republicans, Coverdell and Chaffee. Chaffee had a long career, one of the most, I would say, liberal Republicans in the Senate, and his passing, I think, marks the passing of a liberal era in the Republican Party. There aren't many left. Maybe Jim Jeffords...

WOODRUFF: I was going to say Jim Jeffords.

SCHNEIDER: That's about the last one...

WOODRUFF: And that's about it.

SCHNEIDER: ... that I can think of, from New England. And the Republicans are going to have a tough time holding onto those two Senate seats. Chaffee's son, Lincoln Chaffee, was appointed to that seat, and he's got a tough race to defend it. And in Georgia, Paul Coverdell's seat, the Democrat -- a Democratic governor appointed Zell Miller, a very popular ex-governor. He's now the senator in Paul Coverdell's seat, and he is a prohibitive favorite to get reelected -- to get elected to that seat.

WOODRUFF: That's right.

SHAW: And Chaffee, a very highly decorated military veteran, too.

GREENFIELD: Former secretary...

SHAW: A former Marine.

WOODRUFF: I was just going to say, a couple of Republicans have already announced they're going to run against Zell Miller in Georgia, but at this point, he has to be considered the favorite because he has been seen...

SHAW: Yes.

WOODRUFF: ... has been perceived to be such a popular figure, who bridges the gap between Democrats and Republicans in the conservative state of Georgia.

GREENFIELD: It's one of -- it's lesson number 500 in politics, I guess, as in life, that -- you know the line, "If you want to make God laugh, make a plan." When you sit down and draw up all these -- all these tout sheets of who's going to win and who's going to lose, you don't ever think that the unhappy fate can intervene and take two popular senators and remove them, and all of a sudden -- and you know, it sounds cold-hearted, but you know this better than I, both of you, all of you, that within hours after the news moves that someone has died, even though nobody likes to talk about it in public, there are conversations going on behind the scenes. "I wonder who's going to take that seat? Can we hold it?"

WOODRUFF: One of the -- I think it's fair to say that the Coverdell loss hit this Senate and the Republican Party very hard, a relatively young man in his late 50s, had been healthy his entire life. He had some serious headaches. He called his doctor, went to the hospital. And within two or three days, he was gone.

SCHNEIDER: Both senators...

WOODRUFF: There were tears on the floor of the Senate.

SCHNEIDER: Both senators died quite suddenly, without any long illness or history of problems.

SHAW: A man who knew both men very well, the man from Mississippi, Senate majority leader Trent Lott -- he will be coming on the stage very, very shortly, being introduced by the convention co- chair.

Before that, let's go down to Frank Sesno in the Georgia delegation.

SESNO: In the Georgia delegation, Bernie, where there is a chair at the front that is going -- that is left empty during this tribute to the late Senator Coverdell.

And I'm with Eric Tennanblatt (ph), who's a spokesman for this delegation.

You worked with him for 10 years. What's the political void, as a result? We now have a Democratic senator, for one thing, in there, from Georgia.

ERIC TENNANBLATT, GEORGIA DELEGATION: Well, I think that we'll all unify behind the Republican candidate, and we'll elect a Republican to fill out the remainder of Senator Coverdell's seat. But Senator Coverdell was responsible for building a strong second party in Georgia, and our delegation is unified. He gets a lot of credit for that.

SESNO: I want to cut you off so that we can go to Senator Trent Lott at the podium now.

SEN. TRENT LOTT (R-MS), MAJORITY LEADER: This year the United States Senate lost two of its greatest statesmen. Sometimes in the Senate, we don't stop to think about those that we walk with day in and day out, men and women who leave lasting legacies that touch us all.

John Chaffee was one of those men. John Chaffee was a soft- spoken gentleman, a gentle man in the finest sense of the word. John did the institution of the Senate proud by reaching across the aisle and getting results. He cared deeply about the environment, helping to forge many a consensus to achieve his goals. If a biblical quote ever applied to a senator, this quote should apply to John Chaffee. "Well done, thy good and faithful servant."

And one of my most trusted friends in the Senate, Paul Coverdell, was the best senator that very few people even really knew. Not everybody in America knew Paul Coverdell, but George W. Bush knew him, and he knew him well. That's why he picked Paul to head his efforts in the Senate, because he knew that Paul was one of those people who simply got things done. In eight short years, Paul Coverdell became absolutely indispensable to the United States Senate.

No matter what you thought of Paul, he always proved to be more than you might have thought. He was an ordinary man with extraordinary talents. He showed us that the education savings accounts could empower parents and their children. He knew that it would mean that poor and minority children would not be left behind. He did this not for politics but because he thought it would make a difference in our children's lives. He was the kind of man that your mama always wanted you to be but you didn't really believe was possible until you met Paul Coverdell.

I came across a passage from a poem, "The Comfort of Friends" by William Penn. He said, "They that love beyond the world cannot be separated by it. Death cannot kill what never dies, nor can spirits be divided that love and live in the same divine principles because that is the root and the record of their friendship."

I had a special relationship with Paul Coverdell. I called him "Mikey" because whenever you wanted a job done that nobody else would do, old Paul would step up to the task. And he always did a great job. And so I bid a fond farewell to my friend, the great senator from Georgia, Paul Coverdell.

UNIDENTIFIED SPEAKER: Thank you, Senator Lott. I am happy to report the Republican Party is strong and united. We are ready for victory in...

WOODRUFF: We should say, as we listen to Senator Trent Lott, the Senate majority leader, Senate Republican leader, that this is one of the few times during this convention that you're going to be hearing from elected officials at that podium. This party has made a concerted effort, under the strong urging of the George Bush campaign, to have as few elected officials as possible. They want this to look, Bernie and Jeff and Bill, as if this is the party of the ordinary person. They want people to be able to empathize and reach out and touch and...

SCHNEIDER: Well, you look at the...

WOODRUFF: ... elected folks can sometimes get a little too partisan.

SCHNEIDER: And look at the kind of speech he gave. It wasn't political. It wasn't partisan. It was a personal tribute to two great public servants. And of course, the mood was one of compassion for people who had been tragically lost.

GREENFIELD: And you contrast that -- I think Judy makes a terrific point -- to eight years ago in Houston. The keynote speaker was Senator Phil Gramm, who is one of the most conservative members of the Senate, one of the most combative, gave a speech in which he said if Michael Dukakis had been president, the Berlin Wall would still have been standing. Four years ago, we heard from Speaker Newt Gingrich about, among other things, the joys of beach volleyball, as a tribute to American ingenuity, which while not combative, it was one of the more puzzling convention speeches I ever heard. And you're quite right, except for Dennis Hastert, speaker of the House and by tradition the chair of the convention, it's almost as if the congressional wing of the Republican Party is convening somewhere else.

SHAW: I've got something to add to that, but before that, let's go quickly down to the floor and Candy Crowley's guest in New York.

Candy?

CROWLEY: Bernie, I have Governor George Pataki with me.

A couple questions. They're talking up in the booth about the moderate face of the party. Is it anything more than the face of the party? Is there some substantive changes here?

GOV. GEORGE PATAKI (R), NEW YORK: Well, Candy, there are very real, substantive changes. When you talk about Governor Bush's vision, it's not just rhetoric. In Texas, he's raised educational standards, particularly for minority inner-city kids. He's brought together a very broad political coalition. And the positive agenda that is coming out of this convention is not just a campaign agenda, it's a governing agenda. And this is what Governor Bush wants to do for the American people, make sure no child is left behind, make sure everyone feels a part of the American dream. And I'm confident he's going to be able to do that.

CROWLEY: Now, but at the -- on the same token, once again, you and others who are for abortion rights in the Republican Party were frozen out of the platform. What does that say, if anything, about "compassionate conservatism," the broad tent?

PATAKI: Well, Candy, what unites us as a party is far more important than what divides us. And I believe that Governor Bush is an inclusive Republican. His "compassionate conservatism" is very real. He is absolutely committed to making sure that no child is left behind, that all Americans have the opportunity to pursue the American dream, that every kid by the 3rd grade can read and understand English. These are the important things that are going to let Governor Bush unite America, move us forward with a positive vision. And the Democrats want to focus on what divides us. They want to divide the American people, frighten the American people. Governor Bush wants to unite us and lead us with a vision. And I'm not going to be a part of any divisiveness. I'm going to be a part of that positive vision for America.

CROWLEY: And that's really been something that you all have, what, talked about together? I mean, everyone we talk to...

PATAKI: Sure.

CROWLEY: ... has this same message. You know, it's beginning to sort of...

PATAKI: You get any...

(CROSSTALK)

PATAKI: You get any five delegates together, we're going to disagree on something. But what we agree on is going to be far more important, and we agree that Governor Bush has the background, the character and the vision to lead this country, and we're going to do our best to see that he has the opportunity to become President Bush.

CROWLEY: One-word answer, go out on a limb. Can you deliver New York?

PATAKI: We're going to do our best.

CROWLEY: Thanks. Governor George Pataki of New York. Back to you in the booth.

SHAW: Thank you, Candy. Is that limb cracking, or what?

Wolf Blitzer has been monitoring and will continue to monitor the pronouncements coming from this podium.

Wolf?

WOLF BLITZER, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Bernie, there was one unresolved issue that had to be worked out this morning, the issue involving the so-called "super-delegates" that will be coming to the next Republican convention in 2004. We've just been told that they have worked out that matter. There is not going to be a floor fight. There's not even going to be a fight here -- a call for a roll call or even a voice vote on the floor.

Basically, what's going to happen is that the next time around, in addition to the 2,066 delegate to the next convention, there'll be an additional 155 super-delegates. They will come from each of the states and territories, three RNC officials -- an RNC man, an RNC woman, a Republican National Committee state chair -- from each of the states and territories. What they've decided to do, the rules committee will have a minority report. Those who oppose these so- called "super-delegates." But like the Democratic Party now, the Republican Party for the first time will have so-called "super- delegates" next time around.

Back to the booth.

SHAW: And thank you, Wolf Blitzer at the podium. Going to be there all week long.

Senator Bill Frist, co-chairman of the platform committee, who was right here -- we were interviewing him about an hour ago. He's going to be one of those few officials, elected officials, Judy, referred to who will be speaking from that podium. He's going to appear this afternoon and again on Thursday night. So as you were indicating, very few elected officials will have the privilege here.

WOODRUFF: He's running for reelection, as he mentioned. There are also, of course, House races all over the country. And we're going to take a break, but when we come back, Stu Rothenberg joins us to talk about the fight for control of the House of Representatives.

We'll be right back with the live coverage.

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