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Special Event

Republican National Convention: Moderates and Conservatives Make Concessions to Regain White House

Aired July 31, 2000 - 2:24 p.m. ET

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

WOLF BLITZER, CNN ANCHOR: As you can see, a lot of people have left this convention center, at least for the time being; the sessions are now in recess. They will resume later this evening around 7:30 p.m. Eastern Time.

Welcome back to our continuing coverage, though, of the Republican National Convention.

Bill Schneider, as you look at these Republicans here, we've heard from moderates, we've heard from very, very conservative members. A lot of them seem to be swallowing some of their pride to accept positions they wouldn't's normally accept, because they're so hungry to regain the White House.

WILLIAM SCHNEIDER, CNN SR. POLITICAL ANALYST: Well, look they've been miserable for the last eight years under Bill Clinton. They are absolutely desperate.

They remind me of Democrats of the 1992 Democratic convention who, after 12 years being out in the wilderness, when I asked them, you know, what about Clinton's support for the death penalty and welfare reform, they said, we can live with that.

They believe that they are making a statement here, that this is conservatism with a happy face. That they can sell that. Not Gingrich conservatism, but Reagan conservatism with a touch of kinder- gentler from President Bush.

If they can't win with this message, then they're going to face a real crisis, because look what John McCain argued in the primaries. He said, the Republican Party can't win if all it has to offer is conservatividuality (ph). We have to have something else. We have to be a reformed party. If they lose this race, they're going to have to think again about what McCain said.

BLITZER: And you know, Stuart, John McCain also said: "I can beat Al Gore, George W. Bush can't." Remember when he said that during those primaries?

STUART ROTHENBERG, "ROTHENBERG POLITICAL REPORT": Yes, well, the poll numbers don't show that right now. Wolf, it seems to me that the delegates are taking a cue from their nominee, who talked about optimism, must down-play partisan rancor. It's interesting, the only partisanship I heard was from some candidates out there, senate candidates. Senator Rod Grams was very partisan in his comments about the Democratic Party.

BLITZER: He's running for a tough reelection in Minnesota.

ROTHENBERG: Right. And Congressman Bob Franks referred to his opponent, Jon Corzine, as someone who makes Ted Kennedy look like Barry Goldwater. But, in general, the feel of this is not to harp on Democratic shortcomings, but rather to talk about the future for the Republican Party.

BLITZER: Let's look to this evening. What should we be looking for in Mrs. Laura Bush's speech and in General Colin Powell's speech?

SCHNEIDER: Well, I think one of the first things people are going to look at is -- Mrs. Laura Bush, you know, she wants to be first lady. Her husband's running for president, and they're going to look at her in comparisons with Hillary Rodham Clinton. They're going to be inevitable. She's not as, you know, as experienced the professional as Mrs. Kennedy is...

BLITZER: Mrs....

SCHNEIDER: ... Mrs. Clinton is -- sorry. But people are going to make that comparison. This is her first time on a national stage. I can't really ever remember hearing her give a speech. She didn't want to give any speeches. Those comparisons could end up being very much in her favor...

BLITZER: And General...

SCHNEIDER: ... because remember, Mrs. Clinton's very polarizing.

BLITZER: And General Powell?

ROTHENBERG: I think the message for both of them is actually, we care and we're not even politicians. But we care and the party cares.

BLITZER: You know, General Powell, we're told, is going to make some references in his speech to affirmative action or at least some veiled references. Remember, four years ago, when he spoke, he made a not so veiled reference to abortion rights.

ROTHENBERG: Well, it'll be very interesting to see if there're any boos, hisses or murmurs, if he says something like that. If that strikes to the core, some of these conservative delegates here, or if they just accept it because they want to win so much.

SCHNEIDER: They are going, I think, give him a very warm reception. He may be a major official, perhaps, secretary of state in the Bush administration. And he could be a key factor in Bush victory.

BLITZER: All right, Bill Schneider, Stuart Rothenberg, our political analysts. We'll be hearing a lot more from you in the coming hours, indeed, in the coming days.

We have more coverage coming up, including an interview with Representative Sue Myrick of North Carolina. She was very instrumental in putting this Republican platform together.

Our coverage from Philadelphia will continue right after this.

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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