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Special Event

Republican National Convention: Teen-age Republicans Head Addresses Delegates

Aired July 31, 2000 - 1:44 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: Welcome back to our continuing coverage of this Republican National Convention in Philadelphia.

We're now joined by two of the very best political reporters that there are in this business. Two members of our own CAPITAL GANG," Al Hunt and Bob Novak. They've been spending a lot of time on the floor, as well, talking to delegates.

Bob Novak, let's start with you. What's the mood down there, as you speak to these Republicans?

ROBERT NOVAK, "CAPITAL GANG": Well, after spending about 1.5 hours on the floor, Wolf. I have never seen such a giddy sense of euphoria that these people have. They think they are ahead. They think they're going to win. They're delighted that there's no outer conflict in the party.

The -- they were briefed by some of the Bush campaign people and that just added to it because they were told that all these, supposedly, Democratic states are in play. Not only California, but even New York and West Virginia and Connecticut.

And as far as Dick Cheney goes, I couldn't find a discouraging word about Cheney, except from a couple of Clinton delegates, one from Connecticut and one from Rhode Island. They love Cheney. Several of them said, you know, I always thought Dick Cheney was a moderate. I am delighted that he was such a hard-shell conservative.

So there -- I think these kind of moods don't always last, but I don't think I've ever seen anything quite like it, even in the '84 convention in Dallas that re-elected Ronald Reagan.

BLITZER: Al Hunt, is this the most upbeat Republican convention you've covered since '84, when Reagan was re-nominated?

AL HUNT, "CAPITAL GANG": Easily, Wolf, and I think what's really fascinating is, the "New York Times" had a survey, this morning, that showed that these delegates are well to the right of the Republican Party and way to the right of the country. So why are they so happy? Why are they so content? One top Bush operative told me that our base, which is the right, is sedate. And they are sedate and I have a theory as to why. It is the fact that they really despise Bill Clinton and they want to throw out everything that had anything to do with Bill Clinton and that's why they're so desperate for victory. He is really a unifying force for the Republican Party, as well as for the Democratic Party.

I think you'll see, in Los Angeles, that the Democratic base, also, is pretty content because they like Clinton so much. And so the presence of Clinton is, I think, very much here in Philadelphia and it works to George Bush and Dick Cheney's advantage.

BLITZER: But Bob Novak, Bill Clinton, as far as I know, is not running for re-election this time, and he was despised by these delegates four year ago as well. What's the difference this time?

NOVAK: Well, this time, they think they can win. Four years ago, there was a -- if you remember, Wolf, there was enormous pessimism and they got a little boost when Jack Kemp was named. But they were way, way behind with Bob Dole and they correctly thought Dole was going to be a losing candidate.

Also, I really do believe that the personal antagonism toward Bill Clinton has been intensified by the -- in the last four years, by the Monica Lewinsky affair, by the impeachment proceedings.

I had several delegates talk to me, criticizing, not so much Al Gore, but Bill Clinton, in his remarks attacking the Bush campaign and the Cheney candidacy, saying he was presidential.

BLITZER: Al Hunt, is there a problem, though -- a potential problem for these Republicans, of overconfidence coming out of this convention?

HUNT: Sure there is. I mean, we have to remember that whether it's Philadelphia or Los Angeles, the delegates are not the country. They are not even that representative of the country. And the fact that they're confident in this hall, doesn't necessarily mean they're going to carry a West Virginia or a Wisconsin or an Illinois in the fall.

And they'll come out with a big lead, Wolf. They'll come out with a double-digit lead and then, the key question is, how much the Democrats eat away at that lead, two weeks from now.

BLITZER: All right, Al Hunt and Bob Novak, you've been covering these conventions for a long time.

Let's go down to the floor and listen, briefly, Paris Dennard, the 17-year-old teen-ager from Phoenix. He's speaking right now. He's the head of Teen-age Republicans.

PARIS DENNARD, TEEN-AGE REPUBLICANS: ... going to do all that we can to make sure victory is achieved in 2000. On behalf of Bobby Wells (ph), our national teenage republican director, and all of the teenage Republicans from across the country, thank you and God bless you. BLITZER: Another example of that outreach by these Republicans, Paris Dennard, 17-year-old teenager, a Republican speaking to this convention.

We have a lot more coverage coming up. We have to take a quick commercial break. We'll be more -- we'll be back with more from the Republican National Convention in Philadelphia, right after this.

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