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Special Event

Republican National Convention: Cheney Arrives; George P. Bush Discusses Political Youth Movement

Aired July 31, 2000 - 1:01 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: Dick Cheney arriving here with Lynne Cheney, his wife, at this Republican National Convention. He's going to be making an appearance here, and all of those delegates who are on the floor, they're going to be seeing him, they are going to be very, very excited once he does get into this hall.

Dick Cheney, only within the past few days making -- getting that phone call from Governor Bush, asking him to be the Republican vice presidential candidate. Dick Cheney, of course, being the former defense secretary, long-time member of Congress from Wyoming.

He's had a rude awakening, though, over these past few days, getting extensive criticism from Democrats, from supporters of Vice President Al Gore, Dick Cheney's record, his voting record coming under extensive criticism. But this convention will be seeing Dick Cheney here very soon and he will be speaking, of course, Wednesday evening, that will be the night that he will be nominated. It will be a night that they will be devoting to Dick Cheney, Thursday night, of course, being Governor Bush's night, that's the night he will be nominated. He'll be delivering his major acceptance speech.

Welcome back to our continuing coverage of this Republican National Convention. We have a special guest now that I want to introduce, his name is George P. Bush, he is a nephew of Governor Bush.

Welcome, George, it is good to have you.

GEORGE P. BUSH, CHMN., RNC YOUTH CONVENTION: Thank you very much.

BLITZER: Now you are the son of the Florida Governor, Jeb Bush.

BUSH: Yes, I am.

BLITZER: You are about to go into law school, right?

BUSH: Yes, I am.

BLITZER: The University of Texas?

BUSH: The University of Texas.

BLITZER: Do you start in September?

BUSH: Yes, I start at the end of August.

BLITZER: So you are getting ready to start law school. So what about campaigning for your uncle?

BUSH: Maybe on the side occasionally, maybe one or two weekends, but I'm focused on starting my career, I'm focused on paving my own way.

BLITZER: But you created an opportunity out there now for young people. You are actively involved -- you have been actively involved now for some time getting young people more active in politics. Tell us what you have been doing.

BUSH: Well, over the course of the primary season and so far leading up to the convention, I've had the opportunity to visit close to 60 high schools and over 20 colleges and universities speaking about the virtues of public service. More than anything else I think younger Americans need to shed the label that has been placed on us and that is that we are apathetic as it relates to politics.

BLITZER: How do you do that? How do you -- because I have a daughter who is almost 19, her friends are really not all that interested in politics. You obviously are, you have a personal reason to be interested, but how do you get young people, from your perspective, college-aged kids, older, involved in politics?

BUSH: Well, I think you just need to add a personal touch to politics. I think that there is a tremendous amount of energy and enthusiasm out there. I think we are a very socially conscious generation. We're devoting our time to community service, we're volunteering in our communities in record numbers, more so than in American history, it's just a matter of channeling that energy.

I think campaigns and younger Americans need to find a middle ground where they can meet and communicate and talk about issues that face us. How specifically do you do that? Well, I think campaigns need to market themselves almost as if they market -- as if corporations market their own products, they need to reach out and use creative ideas to get younger people enthused about the process.

BLITZER: Now your uncle has been very aggressive, very active in trying to reach out to the Hispanic community. Your mom is Hispanic, Latino, tell us if there is going to be any in-roads made in the course of this election, because traditionally, Hispanics, Latinos have voted Democratic.

BUSH: They have, and that is the challenge that we have taken upon ourselves. My uncle was re-elected with 49 percent of the Latino vote in the state of Texas, breaking all kinds of records. Right now, if the polls already indication, we are already making inroads into the Latino community.

I can't tell you how many times at the grassroots level life-long Democrats come up to me and say: I voted for Kennedy, I voted for LBJ, all the way back, but they say that they like my uncle's message, they understand that he has a link -- he understands the culture. But it goes beyond that, he's talking about issues that face the community: education, economic opportunity, health-care access, these our questions that are on the minds of a lot of Latinos, and my uncle has been at the forefront of the Republican Party in reaching out to this -- to this minority community.

BLITZER: All right, George, your father is a governor, your uncle is a governor, might be the next president of the United States, what kind of political ambitions do you have?

BUSH: None right now. I'm really -- I have two objectives, being a good law student and a good family member. I'm just helping out my uncle wherever I can. I try to live my life day by day, but I do have a newfound respect for politicians, they really are in it for the right reasons, there's a tremendous amount of difference that can be made through politics, and I have a lot of respect for that, but for right now it is too early.

BLITZER: Right now, you have three tough years of law school ahead of you, that is a grinding experience.

BUSH: That will keep me busy.

BLITZER: Now you've also, in your own way, you know, become sort of a celebrity out there, especially with young people. How are you dealing with that whole celebrity aspect of this?

BUSH: Well, I mean, my family is very sincere, very loving. They are also great comedians, and they definitely keep me well grounded, well rooted. And so they make sure to make fun of me whenever they have the opportunity to do so, in a humorous way, of course, but...

BLITZER: They are always bringing you back down to earth, is that what you're saying?

BUSH: Exactly.

BLITZER: Go ahead.

BUSH: I just think that you have to just have to keep things in perspective. And there is a real reason why I've been involved in politics for so long, it's to get younger people involved, to be a part of my uncle's message, and to reach out to new groups that Republican presidential candidates haven't been known to do.

BLITZER: Will you have the time or the inclination to go out and be a surrogate debater in this campaign? You know your counterpart, as you well know, in the Gore campaign is Karenna Gore, the daughter of the vice president, she's been out actively working for her father. Do you have any desire to go out and like talk to a young audience, young people, with someone from the Gore campaign and sort of debate these issues?

BUSH: Well, I have. In the New Hampshire primary, I took part in several debates. I don't know about my role this fall, to be honest with you, I am going to be busy with law school. I will say that anybody that would like to discuss issues that face younger Americans, I would like to, but of course I am going to be very busy. I guess we'll have to see how it all turns out, but I'm enthused about how younger Americans are starting to take a larger role in presidential politics.

BLITZER: George P. Bush, the grandson of a former president of the United States, the son of a governor, the nephew of another governor, maybe the nephew of another president, thanks for joining us. And good luck in law school.

BUSH: Thank you. I'm going to need it.

BLITZER: You'll need it. Thank you.

Candy Crowley is standing by on the floor.

Candy, what's going on down there right now?

CROWLEY: We're in a musical interlude, in case you can hear this music. You know, it's that sort of controlled chaos that always happens on the floor.

We're also hearing that Dick Cheney, the -- Governor Bush's choice for number two on the ticket is in the building. So we expect him to sort of pop in here at some point.

Dick Cheney has had a rough week in certain respects. His choice was a surprise as of about five days out from the actual announcement. It became known eventually, but -- and so he has gone through quite a grilling over the past week or so. As you know, on his record in Congress, he had about 10 years of service, and hundreds of votes, a number of them have been picked out and targeted by Democrats, others have been researched by the news media.

They had him all out and all over the Sunday talk shows. Their basic feeling here is, get him out there, answer these questions. They don't believe any of it is going to stick to the wall in the Bush campaign. They believe that he will go through this sort of initiation process and that, try as they might, to make him the issue of the vice presidency, they will point out to you historically that the vice president has not been a vote maker or a vote loser for most presidential candidates.

They point to the fact that Dan Quayle was roundly criticized when George Bush's father picked him as a running mate, George Bush the father won that election. So they don't seem overly upset about the criticism. They say they expected it in the Bush campaign. They say, look, if we had picked someone from outside the Beltway, they would have said these guys...

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They will point out to you historically, that the vice president has not been a vote-maker or vote-loser for most presidential candidates. They point to the fact that Dan Quayle was roundly criticized when George Bush, the father, picked him as a running mate. George Bush, the father, won that election.

So they don't seem overly upset about the criticism. They say they expected it in the Bush campaign. They say: Look, if we had picked someone from outside the Beltway, they would've said, these guys don't anything, they're from outside the Beltway, they don't know how it works. If we pick someone with a lot of experience, they say, we would pick the grown-up and an insider and a retro.

They say they were fully prepared for this. A lot of people think, however, that Cheney's first couple of days were a little rocky when he didn't seem to know what the votes were specifically. He's gotten a little more up to speed.

I can tell you though, that on this floor, and as we all know, delegates in either of the parties, in the Democrats, the delegates tend to be more liberal than Democrats in general, across the country, in the Republican Party, those that attend the conventions tend to be more conservative. Dick Cheney is a very big favorite among those on this floor. I suspect that when he gives his sort of national debut speech on Wednesday night, that Dick Cheney...

BLITZER: There is Dick Cheney and his wife Lynne. They are now in this hall. We see the back of his head as he's walking around. He's arrived here and he's going to be talking to some of the delegates. He's going to be making it clear that he's excited, enthusiastic about this new challenge.

Of course, we'll be following Dick Cheney, Lynne Cheney, everyone else around this convention center as our coverage continues. We're going to be joined after our next break by Senator Olympia Snowe. She's one of those pro-abortion rights senators who's obviously disappointed about the platform's decision to reinstate the 1996 platform language opposing all abortions. We're also going to be taking a look at the rest of the day's news.

There's another camera, another shot of Dick Cheney as he's walking into this convention center here in Philadelphia. Dick Cheney, having come under a lot of criticism from the Democrats over these past few days. But he's clearly anxious to get on with this battle. Having once retired from politics, he's now back, deeply enmeshed in politics.

Bill Schneider, as we watch Dick Cheney come in over here -- and I want to get to Bill Schneider in a second, but I think John King is near by standing by on the floor.

John, tell us what's going on? JOHN KING, CNN SR. WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Well, Wolf, we're standing just a few feet away as Secretary Cheney makes his first entrance into the hall as the presumptive GOP vice presidential nominee. Those delegates still on the floor cheering very effusively now as the secretary makes his way, along with his wife, Lynne Cheney, down the front row of the upper section here at the First Union Center.

He's coming toward the VIP box where he will sit whenever he wants to come into the hall and listen to the convention proceedings. He promised the Wyoming delegates this morning, he went to breakfast to thank his home state delegates, and promised them he would make an appearance in the hall.

As you see, quite a bit of applause now as the secretary makes his way. This, as Candy was mentioning earlier, I'm sure, tonic for the secretary after a week in which he was unveiled as George Bush's running mate, and then faced a heavy barrage of continuing criticism from the Democrats. He's being welcomed here as the party rallies around their ticket: George W. Bush and Dick Cheney from Wyoming.

BLITZER: He was actually born in Nebraska. But he grew up in Wyoming, was a congressman from Wyoming for many years. Then he became the defense secretary. And the last five years he's been living in Texas, where he's been chairman and CEO of Halliburton, a major energy services corporation.

But only within the past week or 10 days, John, as you remember, he went back to Wyoming and he changed his voting registration so he was a resident, would become once again a resident of Wyoming.

KING: That's right, Wolf, and Speaker Dennis Hastert just recognized him here in the hall, to anyone who hadn't seen or heard the commotion. Secretary Cheney now waving to the delegates. They've all turned and done an about face from the official platform, looking back there. And you can hear the chant.

Let's listen in just for a second.

DELEGATES: Cheney! Cheney! Cheney!

KING: The Speaker now bringing the convention back to order.

DENNIS HASTERT, CHAIRMAN, REPUBLICAN NATIONAL CONVENTION: The chair recognizes the delegate from Michigan, for the purpose of offering a resolution.

CANDICE MILLER (R), SECRETARY OF STATE, MICHIGAN: I'm Candice Miller, the secretary of state of the Great Lake state of Michigan. And I offer the following resolution and ask for its immediate consideration.

Resolved, that those elected as members of the Republican National Committee, under the procedures of each state, American Samoa, the District of Columbia, Guam, Puerto Rico, and the Virgin Islands, are hereby declared ratified to serve as members of the Republican National Committee, until the meeting of the successor committee be ratified by the next Republican National Convention. And that the reading of the names be dispensed with.

HASTERT: Without objection, the previous question is ordered. The question now occurs in a resolution offered by the delegate from Michigan. All those in favor of the resolution, signify by saying "aye."

DELEGATES: Aye!

HASTERT: Those opposed, "no."

The ayes have it, and the resolution is agreed to without objection. The motion to reconsider is laid upon the table.

BLITZER: The House speaker Dennis Hastert, going through some additional house keeping here. We're awaiting the formal of nomination of George W. Bush as the Republican presidential nominee. That'll be coming up momentarily.

John King, we were just talking about Dick Cheney, who's now made an appearance in the hall, and only within the past week or 10 days, he went back to Wyoming to change his voter registration.

Tell us what that was all about?

KING: Well, he had moved to Texas after leaving the Bush administration. He was working the CEO of Halliburton, an energy company in Texas. So he had registered to vote there. And he decided when George W. Bush told him that he might be picked as the running mate, to return and register in Wyoming.

Now there's no legal prohibition outright to the president and the vice president being registered in the same state. But the constitution does prohibit the electoral college from selecting, voters in the state of Texas could not have selected George W. Bush for president and Dick Cheney for vice president, since they were both from the same state.

So at the last minute, Dick Cheney did indeed, on the final day, change his voting registration back to the state of Wyoming. That. of course, the first major clue that he had risen from the head of the Bush search committee, to the leading candidate to be the governor's vice president.

And it is a nomination, as criticized as it is by the Democrats right now, being welcomed in the Republican Party. Especially among the conservative activists, again, as we saw a bit earlier, some of them upset about the platform language, or upset about Governor Bush's statements that while he is anti-abortion, that he would not consider that a litmus test when appointing Supreme Court justices.

Dick Cheney, known as a very solid conservative from the days in the House. And most of the grass-roots Republican activists here, quite cheered by his selection. BLITZER: Frank Sesno, you're standing by on the floor as well. What's the reaction where you are to Dick Cheney's arrival in the hall?

FRANK SESNO, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, of course, the reaction was very enthusiastic. And I've been talking with many, many delegates today about Dick Cheney.

BLITZER: I want to just interrupt for a second.

UNIDENTIFIED DELEGATE: ... I'm thrilled to place the name of the governor of the great state of Texas, and the next president of the United States, the nomination of George W. Bush.

HASTERT: Is there a second?

The chair hears sufficient seconds.

DELEGATES: Bush! Bush! Bush!

HASTERT: Are there any other candidates for nomination for president of the United States?

DELEGATES: No!

HASTERT: The chair hears none. The chair would like to make the following statement. Only one candidate has been placed in nomination for president of the United States, who has demonstrated the support of the majority of the delegates from each of five states, or more states.

Accordingly, the chair intends to exercise the discretion granted to him, pursuant to the rules adopted by -- this morning by the convention. The chair intends to begin the roll call this evening and continue the call of the roll of the states tonight through the state of Iowa. At that time, the chair will suspend the call of the roll. And with the intention of resuming the call during the third session Tuesday evening.

It is our hope to suspend further the call of the roll of the states on Tuesday, with the intention resuming the call during the fourth section on Wednesday evening, and to conclude the roll call on Thursday evening.

The chairman of the newly-formed National Republican Lieutenant Governor's Association is Joe Rogers of Colorado. He is not only America's youngest lieutenant governor at age 35, he's also the highest ranking African-American elected to the United States Governor's Association.

Let's welcome the honorable Joe Rodgers, lieutenant governor of the great state of Colorado.

BLITZER: And so we now have the formal nomination of George W. Bush to be the Republican presidential nominee. That has now been formally done by the lieutenant governor of Texas. Obviously a lot of excitement in that hall. Joe Rogers, who is now the youngest lieutenant governor in the United States from Colorado, he is going to be seconding that motion, speaking about George W. Bush.

Joe Rogers is only 36 years old. He is one of the highest ranking African-American Republican elected officials in the country.

Frank Sesno has been listening, he's been watching. He's standing by on the floor.

Between Dick Cheney's arrival, the formal nomination of George W. Bush, there must be a lot of excitement down there, Frank.

FRANK SESNO, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, more. They're getting down to it. They know that this is what they're here for and what they're all about.

You know, I started to say just a moment ago, it's quite interesting -- and we took a break to listen to that formal nomination process, demanding input in the nomination -- that Dick Cheney really connects the dots for a lot of these delegates that we've been talking to today because his credentials are solidly conservative. In fact, as we have heard over the last several days, he's been well and truly bashed by the Democrats. That almost brings him bragging rights as far as these Republicans are concerned.

But he bears his conservatism and his whole demeanor, really, in a very soft-spoken, gentlemanly and non-threatening way. And that is what a lot of this convention, Wolf, has been all about: Trying to be less threatening, trying to be more inclusive. This podium which you, Wolf, talked about earlier, has stepped down to the delegates themselves. It's supposed to symbolize a more accessible Republican Party. And certainly the faces we've seen from up there throughout the day underscore that.

So Dick Cheney hits all the right notes. And I'm told that his speech, when he delivers it, is going to further emphasize those points.

BLITZER: Candy Crowley, you're also on the floor monitoring the mood down there. What's happening where you are?

CANDY CROWLEY, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, actually, I'm sitting in front of the Texas delegation so I think you can pretty much imagine what the mood is right here. We were standing here when the lieutenant governor, Rick Perry, put the name of George Bush into nomination, and so obviously there was a great excitement here, a big moment for a native son.

One of the things about Rick Perry -- this is interesting. I was talking to him a couple of minutes ago on the floor because if George Bush should become president, it is Rick Perry who will become governor of Texas. In fact, Bush can turn over the reigns at any point, but Perry says he does not expect that to happen until January at least. So he is in the lieutenant governorship and he takes over when Bush is out of town, which, as you know, is quite frequently. But certainly, where we are right now, this is what they all came for: a native son whose name has been placed in a nomination and the only name, Wolf.

BLITZER: Texas delegation front and center right below that podium, a place of honor.

Jeanne Meserve, you're also on the floor. Tell us where you are.

JEANNE MESERVE, CNN CORRESPONDENT: I am over here sort of between Kentucky and Alabama, but with a gentleman from Michigan. This is John Pappageorge.

Thanks so much for joining us. You were a strong McCain supporter. We've just heard that there is only one name in nomination. It is that of George W. Bush. Any disappointment on your part?

JOHN PAPPAGEORGE, MICHIGAN DELEGATION: No, not at all. I've known the senator since '94 when he came in to help me with one of my elections. And he and I come from the same roots. He's an Annapolis graduate, I'm a West Point graduate. And in our profession, you argue to the point of decision, and then after the decision you solute and say, how can I help. So I expected the senator to do what he did on Monday, to thank us for working for him, and then to say, let's get behind Bush.

Whenever I spoke for McCain in Michigan, radio, TV, whatever, I made the point that we were choosing between three good Republicans. And one of those three, all of us would eventually support. So I have no disappointment at all. George Busy is our guy and we've got to go out there and win for him.

MESERVE: Did you want to see McCain on the ticket?

PAPPAGEORGE: Oh yes, that would have been -- I would have liked to have seen him as vice president, frankly. But I also had the privilege of spending almost an hour with Dick Cheney some years ago when he was running for president. And because of my own background in the State Department and in the military, we talked about military and State Department affairs. He is so erudite. He is so well-versed in the issues. And there's a confidence and a calmness about the man that says, I know what I need to do, and I know how to get people to help me do it and so he is a great choice.

MESERVE: John McCain will speak here tomorrow night. Are there some particular things you want to hear him say here in the hall?

PAPPAGEORGE: Yes, I want to here him talk about national security. I want him to talk about the fact that our military is really hurting, people don't understand, when you try and cut a military budget because you want money in the near term, you cut readiness, you cut maintenance, it's like having a football team that only practices once a week, who's going to win on Saturday? We are hurting maintenance wise, we are hurting readiness wise.

MESERVE: John Pappageorge, from Michigan, thanks so much, appreciate it.

PAPPAGEORGE: Other than that I have no opinion.

MESERVE: And now -- no one here on the floor has an opinion, do they? Now, Wolf, back to you.

BLITZER: No shrinking violets down there among these delegates. Thanks, Jeanne.

Dick Cheney is now in the hall with his wife, Lynne Cheney. He's excited a lot of people. He's now sitting in a VIP booth. They are in the Wyoming -- near the Wyoming delegation, not too far away, trying to express his satisfaction.

Bill Schneider, the role that you envisage Dick Cheney playing, a lot of times vice presidential candidates go out and become sort of the pit bulls, and the presidential nominees take the high road, the vice presidential nominees go after the opposition. Do you think that is a role suited for Dick Cheney? do you think he will do that?

WILLIAM SCHNEIDER, CNN SR. POLITICAL ANALYST: I don't think he'll do it, I don't think it is suited to him, and that is not why he was picked. He was picked to send a different message. And the conservatives are over the moon over this guy because he is a favorite of theirs. Why did Bush pick another conservative? He already had the conservatives. He picked Cheney because Cheney is a man who represents civility. How do you reach out to swing voters? He didn't do it ideologically by picking someone who was, say, an abortion rights supporter, he did it with a man who represents cooperation, civility and who's message is elect a Bush-Cheney ticket and we're going to stop the bickering in Washington.

That is a message that has a lot of resonance among suburban voters, among independents, among moderate voters. I think that's a large reason why he was picked.

Oh, and one other thing, a lot of people think Dick Cheney looks like me. The Democrats have a flier that has my picture and Dick Cheney's and they said: Separated at birth? We do have the same hairdresser.

BLITZER: Yes. I can see that there is a similarity.

Stuart Rothenberg, you know that Dick Cheney has been pretty severely -- been beaten up these past few days by the Democrats. But were these Republicans caught off guard by the voting record that he had. And it seems that it has taken Dick Cheney and his team some days to explain some of those controversial votes?

STUART ROTHENBERG, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: I think you are absolutely right, Wolf. Here we were expecting the governor of Texas to pick someone who was safe. I think he thought he picked someone who was safe, relatively uncontroversial, and instead we've had a lot of discussion, a lot of defensiveness on the part of the tickets, particularly former Congressman Cheney on this.

I don't think that this is something that the Republicans wanted. On the other hand, Frank Sesno's earlier point is absolutely right on the mark, this -- this selection got the conservative core activated, interested, excited and the convention is going to be geared towards moderates, swing voters. It's also nice to have the conservatives on- board.

BLITZER: All right. We're going to take a quick break but we have a lot more coverage here from the Republican National Convention. Dick Cheney, as we just saw, he is now in the hall. We're going to take this break, when we come back we will have some of the day's other news. We will also be joined by Senator Olympia Snowe of Maine. She's one of those Republicans who supports abortion rights.

Stay with us.

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