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Special Event

The Republican Party Officially Nominates Bush and Cheney

Aired August 2, 2000 - 11:04 p.m. ET

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

JUDY WOODRUFF, CNN ANCHOR: Dick Cheney has just delivered a speech that has brought this crowd to its feet. Whatever pent up desire there was to hear some criticism of the Democratic administration, of Bill Clinton and Al Gore, it has been released with these remarks from a soft spoken man, but who let out a wallop of an acceptance speech.

JEFF GREENFIELD, CNN SENIOR ANALYST: That's right. I think after two days of politics interruptus, these delegates got to do what they came to do. They gave the reason to chant, "No more Gore." He gave -- recycled the famous line from Al Gore years ago (UNINTELLIGIBLE) for them to go. He even let them take out their frustrations about Hillary Clinton when he referred to the man from hope going home to New York. And he leveled some very sharp words at Al Gore, words of steel wrapped in a tone of velvet, a soft-spoken dose of very red meat.

BERNARD SHAW, CNN ANCHOR: Down on the floor, John King.

JOHN KING, CNN FLOOR CORRESPONDENT: Bernie, standing by in Oklahoma, there's a Wyoming delegation. The delegates here saying for the first time tonight they've heard strong case against the Clinton- Gore ticket. One delegate, the man standing next to me, even saying Governor Bush will have a very tough act to follow now tomorrow when he speaks. The delegates have been looking for somebody to make the case, not just why George W. Bush and Dick Cheney should be elected, but why Al Gore should not be. They were struck here tonight by how often Dick Cheney said Clinton and Gore and tried to closely associate the vice president with the current president.

Now we're going to go back up to the podium.

WOODRUFF: This is (UNINTELLIGIBLE) the Republicans love.

(LEE GREENWOOD, "GOD BLESS THE USA")

GREENFIELD: Down on the floor to Candy Crowley. Candy?

CANDY CROWLEY, CNN FLOOR CORRESPONDENT: Jeff, I am somewhere between California and Texas. They love this song. The first time I ever heard this song was during Ronald Reagan's presidency. It practically Lee Greenwood the platinum kid with this song. You can see the delegates down here all swaying. This is not the place to be for a quiet conversation, I can tell you that. What's been interesting here is to see the swing of moves from that sort of raw meat sort of -- let me send this over to Jeanne Meserve, who I hear is someplace over in Michigan, Jeanne?

JEANNE MESERVE, CNN FLOOR CORRESPONDENT: That's right, Candy. I've been watching some of the theatrics over here. They have this huge balloons at the top of the hall, great big ones with banners that say "Bush-Cheney" (UNINTELLIGIBLE). And people on the floor now are now tugging on these strings swinging the balloons up and down and beach balls are flying around in the crowd. Everybody has these noisemakers that look sort of like Mylar sausages and they're waving them around and pounding them together. Very festive indeed over at this part of the floor.

GREENFIELD: To Frank Sesno on the floor.

FRANK SESNO, CNN FLOOR CORRESPONDENT: Jeff, you know, it's just remarkable, but part way through this speech when Dick Cheney just a few moments ago said, "Let us see them off together," a delegate leaned over to me, tapped me on the shoulder as the crowd was in wild applause much as you hear right now and said, "That's what unites the people in this room." And indeed it does. And what we've heard played down over the last several days came churning to the surface right during this speech.

GREENFIELD: OK, I wanted to bring to your attention the fact that where there used to be a tradition that one party stayed (UNINTELLIGIBLE) the other's convention. The Gore campaign was rebutting this speech before Dick Cheney ever took the stage in a six- page single-spaced e-mail, the highlight of which or -- lowlight, depending on your political persuasion -- is this: "Because he could not defend his own record or Bush's special-interest agenda, Dick Cheney delivered one of the most negative Republican campaign speeches since Pat Buchanan." Says the Gore campaign, "The mask is off the Philadelphia masquerade ball."

Judy, I seem to recall Al Gore, they didn't -- they cited Republican speeches. Didn't Al Gore have something to say eight years ago?

WOODRUFF: Yes, he sure did. And that's where the line came from that we heard Dick Cheney say, once, twice, three times in the speech. He was repeating this line that we're going to show you now from Al Gore in 1992 in his acceptance speech.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

AL GORE (D), VICE PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: They have demeaned our democracy with the politics of distraction, denial and despair. What time is it?

AUDIENCE: Time for them to go.

GORE: What time is it?

AUDIENCE: Time for them to go. GORE: What time is it?

AUDIENCE: Time for them to go.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

WOODRUFF: Very effective reprise, you have to say, but the shoe is most definitely on the other foot, Bernie and Jeff. Line after line, we hear Dick Cheney say, "Bill Clinton goes and they should go together. They came in together, they should go out together. Time for them to go."

GREENFIELD: The politeness, though, "Let us see them off together." You know, it struck me, Bernie, you've covered many of these conventions. I don't remember a speech like this where the speaker has attempted to raise his voice or gesture. This is almost delivered as a CEO report on some failing other company or team and yet the words were extremely tough.

SHAW: This was not a red-meat speech. It was spinach and these delegates enjoyed eating it.

WOODRUFF: And they have been waiting since they arrived in Philadelphia this past weekend. You know, this has been a highly orchestrated, sanitized -- you used the word Lysol, I think, earlier today, Jeff. They have not been allowed to vent their frustration and their strong feelings against this current Democratic administration. Dick Cheney gave them that opportunity. It started a little bit with Trent Lott, the Senate majority leader, but Dick Cheney let them have it.

SHAW: Governor Bush and his wife, Laura, have been making their way here. As you know, we've been reporting it. And tonight, he was in his suite at the Wyndham Hotel here in Philadelphia as he saw and heard this proceeding put him over the top. And he had some remarks. Let's listen in.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

GOV. GEORGE W. BUSH (R-TX), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Well, whoever casted me as a reluctant candidate misunderstood me. I'm a tough competitor. But what I was saying was is that I'm going to give it my best shot. But I'm not going to change in order to be the nominee of the Republican Party. I'm not going to change in order to become the president. I'm going to be what I am. And this is a huge honor. This is something that a lot of us have worked hard to realize. And this is a major step toward becoming the president of the United States.

And I'm looking forward to tomorrow night where I accept the nomination. It's obviously going to be a huge moment for me. I'm prepared to give a speech that speaks from my heart. I'm going to lift the spirit of the country. When people listen to what I have to say tomorrow, they're going to say, "This is a man who sees a positive America, America for everybody." But this is obviously a moment for -- that we're able to celebrate with my family and my friends, which mean more to me than anything else.

QUESTION: You've seen this coming for a while.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SHAW: And when we return, we're going to take you back down to the floor to hear from our correspondents.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

GREENFIELD: Delegates are filing out of the (UNINTELLIGIBLE) center after hearing vice presidential nominee Dick Cheney deliver what I believe to be a very skillful, low-key delivery, high-octane speech deploring partisanship, while letting the partisans applaud the denunciations of the last eight years.

Down on the floor, we go to John King, the first of our floor correspondents to weigh in -- John.

KING: Well, Jeff, we're here in the Oklahoma delegation, certainly a well-received speech here on the floor. Cheryl Williams, a delegate we spoke to the other day, you said you were disillusioned a little bit with the platform deliberations. Also unhappy that you hadn't heard more criticisms of an administration that you consider to be morally corrupt. What did you think of Secretary Cheney's speech?

CHERYL WILLIAMS, OKLAHOMA DELEGATION: I think he assured me that they do know what they're up against and they do know what their job is. And I do believe that they will help us in America. And so I was very much reassured.

KING: On your shirt tonight, "GOP, God's Own Party." You were a little upset the other day that there was some language put in for abortion right supporters, not enough in your view for anti-abortion activists who are so active in this party. Concerned at all that we still haven't heard much from that issue from the podium from your candidate?

WILLIAMS: Personally, I think that the issue is settled. We won. It's a pro-life plank. It stayed very strong pro-life, very strong pro-family. We won. The issue is over. We're moving on to victory in 2000.

KING: All right, we thank you very much.

WILLIAMS: Thank you.

KING: Back to the booth. I'm sorry. Candy Crowley standing by also on the floor.

CROWLEY: Hi, John. I'm with Patti Stockman, a Texas delegate. And so I just need to ask you, but what did you think of Secretary Cheney's speech?

PATTI STOCKMAN, TEXAS DELEGATION: Oh, it was great. We are thrilled with Bush's choice of Cheney. CROWLEY: And what did you think of the nature of the speech? It's a different tone than what we've had the past couple of days. It got at Gore. It got at Clinton. Did you like that part of it?

STOCKMAN: Well, there was some that got at Gore, got at Clinton. But I tell you what, it was overwhelmingly upbeat, and I think that's the theme of the whole campaign has been upbeat, just excitement for America, positive enthusiasm for America.

CROWLEY: You know, there's so much made of the niceness of this campaign -- this convention, sorry, and how sweet it is and everybody agrees on everything. Was it kind of nice to hear Secretary Cheney, albeit with the velvet (UNINTELLIGIBLE), kind of stick it a little bit to the Clinton administration?

STOCKMAN: Well, I think he was expressing probably most Americans really frustration and readiness for a chance. And we're just thrilled to be Texans here in the birthplace of our nation kind of offering a hope to the nation from our state for a rebirth, if you will.

CROWLEY: OK. Thanks very much, Patti Stockman.

STOCKMAN: Thank you.

CROWLEY: Jeanne Meserve, over to you.

MESERVE: In all the bedlam on the floor, there was one guy over here that wasn't clapping. He's with me now, Joe Schwarz. He was a McCain person in the state of Michigan.

You told me before the speech that you weren't a red meat kind of politician. Was Dick Cheney a little bit too much of a carnivore in this speech for you?

JOE SCHWARZ, MICHIGAN DELEGATION CHAIRMAN: No, I wouldn't call it a carnivorous speech. He threw down the gauntlet a little bit and I think that's what you do in an acceptance speech at a political convention. But I've seen a lot more red meat speeches than that speech was. So I think it was a good speech. I think it sent a certain tone and it set down certain challenges to the Democratic campaign. But by and large, it was a good political speech.

MESERVE: Joe Schwarz, thanks a lot. We're going to go now to Frank Sesno. He's in the state of Louisiana -- Frank.

SESNO: Jeanne, I'm with former congressman Bob Livingston from Louisiana. You served in the Congress with Dick Cheney for nine years on two committees: Intelligence and Ethics. The man you hear -- that you heard here tonight, the same man you served with or changed?

BOB LIVINGSTON, LOUISIANA DELEGATION: No. Dick Cheney is about as solid as any human being can be. I served with him on the Ethics Committee during the Abscam years when those people who had stepped out of line had to be prosecuted. Dick Cheney was the epitome of integrity back then. Then he went on to the Intelligence Committee and he served as an example for all members to follow. We had some difficult problems that we can't talk about, couldn't talk about. He was just the leader that everybody followed.

SESNO: Some tough language tonight. How rough is this campaign going to be?

LIVINGSTON: Well, Dick Cheney set the tone. I mean, this is a campaign about integrity, and there hadn't been much of it in the last eight years. Frankly, Bill Bennett said the other day this is -- we want prosperity without perjury.

SESNO: Bob Livingston, thanks. To Wolf Blitzer on the podium.

WOLF BLITZER, CNN FLOOR CORRESPONDENT: Frank, this is not the first time I heard Dick Cheney make a speech like this, although the context elsewhere was very, very different and perhaps coincidentally, perhaps not. It was exactly 10 years ago today when the Iraqis invaded Kuwait and the world began to see Dick Cheney. He talked tough during Operation Desert Shield, and of course, during Operation Desert Storm. He spoke very tough tonight.

In his own soft-spoken way, he made clear that he is going to go after, not only Al Gore, but he went after Bill Clinton tonight. In fact, most of his attacks were directly aimed at Bill Clinton, very much like the Republicans attempted to do in '92 and '96, did not succeed then. The question now is: With this strong economy, are the American people going to accept that challenge? Back to the booth.

WOODRUFF: We point this out I think just to be clear about the record here. We just heard former congressman Bob Livingston talking about restoring integrity in the administration. I think it's only fair to point out Congressman Livingston apologize for this, but he did step down from Congress as a result of...

GREENFIELD: A private scandal.

WOODRUFF: A private scandal.

GREENFIELD: He was going to be speaker of the House, and the day Clinton was impeached by the House, he got up and said, "I think Clinton should resign and I think I will resign because of what happened to me," a private sexual scandal.

WOODRUFF: In his own (UNINTELLIGIBLE).

SHAW: I was saying earlier this evening that I had a hunch that Dick Cheney would allude to former president Gerald Ford, who's in a Philadelphia hospital. Indeed, he said, "I wouldn't be here tonight if it wasn't for him and the trust and confidence he placed in me years ago."

When we return, we're going to check in with correspondent Charles Bierbauer, who is at the hospital. He's going to give us an update on Mr. Ford's condition. Back in a moment.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK) SHAW: Delegates continue filing out of the hall here in Philadelphia. There are concerns about their ticket, but also there are concerns about the 38th president of the United States, Gerald R. Ford.

Charles Bierbauer is at the hospital.

CHARLES BIERBAUER, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Bernie, a short while ago, a hospital official told me that President Ford's condition is serious but improving. That is unchanged from the official condition that we were given late this afternoon at a briefing here at Hahnemann University Hospital. At that time, a Dr. Robert Schwartzmann indicated that President Ford had had one, possibly two strokes in the past few days, a condition which Dr. Schwartzmann said one from which President Ford will totally recover. Here's more detail from Dr.Schwartzmann.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

DR. ROBERT SCHWARTZMANN, HAHNEMANN UNIVERSITY HOSPITAL: I'm very happy to report that President Ford is improving. He's much better than he was this morning. This morning when I evaluated him, he had a small brain stem stroke. He had a little difficulty with his speech and a little difficulty with his balance. But at the present time, he's improving and he's been undergoing testing throughout most of the day, which confirms his diagnosis.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BIERBAUER: The next update here is scheduled for noon on Thursday, and the distance between these two briefings itself suggests that this condition is not one that is worsening, it is one that is considered relatively stable. As I say, serious but improving throughout the day.

President Ford and Mrs. Ford have received messages from numerous people, of course, from Governor Bush, former president Bush, from President Clinton as well. And as you indicated, Bernie, this evening, a message delivered via television from the vice presidential nominee, Dick Cheney, who was President Ford's chief of staff at the White House, in which he said he wouldn't be here this evening in Philadelphia if it hadn't been for President Ford's confidence in him. That's the kind of messages that are being received here. Again, serious but improving. Back to you in the booth.

SHAW: Thank you, Charles.

WOODRUFF: Well, no sooner did Dick Cheney's speech, acceptance speech end here than we, and I'm sure many other in the news media received a Democratic National Committee handout we can show you right now. And I'm reading from it. "Dick Cheney's attack-filled speech contained," underlined, "no policy proposals. Dick Cheney's convention speech by the numbers: accusations, attacks, 22; policy, proposals, zero." The back and forth has already begun.

GREENFIELD: And I think it's fair to fair to say that this would depend on who's doing the counting. This is a little like Olympic judging. I'm sure the Bush campaign will say, "You said you would reform the tax code, reform education, teacher accountability." I have a feeling if the Bush campaign were counting, they'd come up with a number higher than zero. Just a hunch, guys.

WOODRUFF: Just a hunch.

GREENFIELD: Now, you know, all week long, we brought you the people and sounds and sights of the convention, but there is another aspect to what's going on here and it's not going to stop with this nomination. All week long, Brooks Jackson, who has been following the money, as deep throat said many years ago, is with us now with a look at what might be called indeed the campaign for dollars.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

REP. GUY VANDERJAGT (R), MICHIGAN: You sure know how to make a fellow feel like giving a speech.

BROOK JACKSON, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Twenty years ago, Congressman Guy Vanderjagt was near the center of the action.

VANDERJAGT: We will go forth from Detroit to elect Ronald Reagan our president.

JACKSON: Keynoting a convention that actually had suspense, even mentioned as a possible running mate...

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Guy Vanderjagt of Michigan is delivering the keynote address. He was considered to be one of the vice presidential prospects here. But his prospects are waning now.

JACKSON: ... till Reagan courted Gerald Ford and finally picked George Bush. Today, former congressman Vanderjagt is a Washington tax lobbyist.

VANDERJAGT: Oh, boy, he'll give limits...

JACKSON: Still at the center but of a different kind of convention action.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This is green rolls.

VANDERJAGT: Wow, that looks great.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: People are going to have goat cheese on top, beef tenderloin. That's going to be garlic (UNINTELLIGIBLE).

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: More beef.

JACKSON: Preparing to entertain a few friends.

VANDERJAGT: Wow.

We've taken over the entire restaurant, one of the great ones in Philadelphia, Philippe's (ph). It's capacity is 550. We have 900 over acceptances.

VANDERJAGT: How much does an event like this cost?

PHILIPPE CHIN, CO-OWNER, PHILIPPE ON LOCUST: Well, today, it's about $60 per person for food plus drinks plus tax, gratuity. So cost a bundle.

JACKSON: This party is put on by groups seeking tax favors, including the liquor lobby, an insurance company, a big accounting firm. And among the guests, members of the tax writing Ways and Means Committee where Vanderjagt sat when he was in Congress, including Bill Thomas, who's running for chairman, and Phil Crane, who's also running for chairman. Whoever wins, Vanderjagt knows him.

These days, conventions decide almost nothing inside the hall, but this kind of convention business is growing fast.

VANDERJAGT: We're up in terms of the number of parties, the size of the parties, the money spent putting them on and the money raised. It is light years different, bigger, more, now than in 1980.

JACKSON: And something else has changed.

(on camera): Did you have more influence over legislation then or now?

VANDERJAGT: I hate to answer you frankly because it makes it sound like I wasn't an effective congressman. But in some ways, I believe I have more impact on legislation now than I did when I was on Ways and Means.

JACKSON (voice-over): Not, he says, because of the wining and dining or the campaign donations he arranges but because he can focus all his energy on a few tax issues. Not that he's complaining about the wining and dining, understand.

VANDERJAGT: I don't I have ever enjoyed a convention more, been more relaxed, more able to savor the friendship, to savor the wonderful memories ever to be more excited about a convention.

JACKSON: A convention where lobbyists sometimes feel more influential than lawmakers.

Brooks Jackson, CNN, following the money in Philadelphia.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

SHAW: What a powerful piece of journalism. Guy Vanderjagt, a former member of the tax-writing House Ways and Means Committee saying that he as a lobbyist has more influence over legislation as a lobbyist than he did as a member sitting in that critical committee.

WOODRUFF: Very good reporting. An a reminder that there are two conventions going on here: the one in the hall and the one that Brooks keeps describing.

We're going to take a break. When we come back, we're going to listen to our five intrepid correspondents down on the floor.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

SHAW: Usually, when you're on the job, you're on your feet. Not so for John King, Candy Crowley, Jeanne Meserve, Frank Sesno and Wolf Blitzer. They are on their analytical -- marks.

(LAUGHTER)

BLITZER: You know, Bernie, this -- this crowd really wanted this kind of speech tonight. When Trent Lott came out and gave what was relatively a mild address, and then Lynne Cheney, who is known for some bombastic comments over the years -- she didn't even talk much, if anything at all, about the -- the opposition, it was left really to Dick Cheney to give this crowd what they wanted. He came out, and he was tough. He was about as tough as I've ever seen him, and there's no doubt the crowd really loved it.

CROWLEY: And they did. But you know, what was great about it was he said everything with this sweet little smile. You know, everything -- you know, he was like he was proud of himself. You know, he -- he'd kind of say, "Now, you know, the man from Hope's going to New York" -- smile. You know?

BLITZER: It was almost like...

CROWLEY: It was just...

BLITZER: ... a smirk -- it was almost like a smirk, though.

CROWLEY: Well, you know, take that up with someone else. He had a -- you know, it was that -- you know, the way he delivered it and what it said were almost like two different things.

SESNO: I counted, actually. I counted 14 separate references to "integrity," "confidence," "leadership," "respect and confidence," "honor" throughout the speech. And there was applause, of course, after each one. And as I mentioned earlier, this is what did unite this room, going after, whether by name or otherwise, Clinton-Gore.

MESERVE: Whatever criticism has been lobbed a Cheney, it sure hasn't stuck, as far as this audience is concerned. I think, to a person, everyone I spoke to seemed very enthusiastic about this pick, even before he spoke. The closest I could get to any criticism was one guy who said to me, "Well, he's sort of the Scout leader, and George W. Bush is the Eagle Scout."

KING: But you have a Republican ticket trying to make a case for change at a time of 4 percent national unemployment, 22 million jobs. So when Al Gore used that line, "It's time for them to go" eight years ago, that was about the economy. When Dick Cheney used it tonight, it was about respect, integrity, values. And much like Bill Clinton said "Dole-Gingrich, Dole-Gingrich, Dole-Gingrich," in every breath in 1996, we're hearing the Republicans now saying "Clinton-Gore, Clinton- Gore, Clinton-Gore." They will not let this vice president out of the shadow of the president. BLITZER: And you know, that -- Cheney was very clever -- very clever -- the speech writers, whoever helped him draft this speech -- in the code words. Everyone in this convention hall knew precisely what he was talking about. For example, when he said, "There'll be no more carefully worded denials," everyone knew what he was talking about, the meaning of "is" -- what is the meaning -- "We all know the -- what the meaning of `is' is," or when Al Gore used the phrase "no controlling legal authority." Everyone here knew precisely what he was talking about, and it resonated.

MESERVE: But he really wasn't the first one to bring it up. I mean, we have to mention that Laura Bush alluded to Al Gore, John McCain in his speech talking about honor and principle was clearly alluding to him. I mean, the subtext throughout this has been Clinton-Gore and the issue of honesty and integrity.

CROWLEY: I think...

MESERVE: Dick Cheney's just the first one to come out and say it baldly.

CROWLEY: The other thing where you can see the hand of the Bush group in this speech was what they call "jujitsu," was just taking your opponent's line aimed at you and turning it around and directing it back at them. And that's why we got -- I mean, this is a favorite strategy of the Bush campaign, is take what they say and throw it back at them. That's why we got "It's time for them to go."

SESNO: I'd like to pick up on something, John, you were talking about because there is a little bit of a calculated gamble here. At one point, Cheney said, "We lived in a caring community where parents were confident their children's lives could be even better than their own, and that is as it should be and as it can be again." And yet, at a time when polls show that most Americans overwhelmingly think the country's on the right track, the economy's good, and they are optimistic about the future -- so this is going to be interesting to see how they connect that and make that case.

KING: It also came, this speech, after a week in which the Democrats have roundly criticized Dick Cheney, even run ads against him. He put on not a flashy performance tonight, but a very solid performance that impressed these delegates, a reminder of way back in 1988, when George Bush picked Dan Quayle. The Democrats rushed to criticize him, rushed to say he was an extremist, rushed to say he was not a good candidate. George Bush and Dan Quayle went on to win 40 states.

Now, on the floor tonight, not only Republicans -- Jeanne, you had a glimpse of somebody who'd perhaps be a surprise.

MESERVE: Yes, and that was Ralph Nader, Green Party candidate, who came out on the floor over by the Florida delegation, apparently got credentials from a news organization. And he came on out, saying he was criticizing the Republicans for their use of corporate money, and he wanted to come and watch the experts at using it in action. Of course, there for the cameras. The Florida delegation was not happy that Ralph Nader was there, and they periodically would start up chants of "Go Bush, go Bush, go Bush" to try and drown him out so the microphones couldn't pick him up. And eventually, the -- people -- the security guys at the end of the aisle sort of tried to push him back. That wasn't very successful.

And then the head of the party in Florida came out and talked to him and said, "Well, you're only welcome here if you're a Republican." And given what Ralph Nader has to say, that seems a pretty unlikely...

SESNO: I must tell you...

MESERVE: ... prospect that...

SESNO: ... I thought...

MESERVE: ... he's going to be a party switcher.

SESNO: I...

MESERVE: But it was one of those few spontaneous moments we've had here.

SESNO: Well, we had another one, though, and...

MESERVE: Oh, did you?

SESNO: ... that was when Candy -- my favorite -- interviewed Pierce Bush. I mean, here was this 14-year-old who's -- "Hey, it's in my blood."

CROWLEY: That kid rocks, you know? He was -- yes, he was -- he was, you know, this little guy, and you know, talking about returning decency to the White House, and you know, education, and you know -- and I must say, and I forgot to say this while I was interviewing him -- I kept saying, "Do your parents know you're here?" You know, just to make sure that, you know, we -- they wouldn't be surprised to suddenly see their son.

But he is -- it is incredible to me to see a child that age who was so well-versed in what he was talking about. And he had the Bush line right down there.

BLITZER: You know, one of the most effective moments in this audience, probably around the country, as well, was when Dick Cheney raised the whole issue of U.S. military forces, the men and women in the armed services, and what he was going to do -- and obviously, everyone remembers he's a former defense secretary -- "to restore dignity and honor to them, and that day is coming very, very quickly." He used that line very effectively, and I assume that's going to be part of the strategy in the weeks ahead.

KING: Also interesting, not many specifics. Back in 1992, George Stephanopoulos, when Bill Clinton came under attack for Gennifer Flowers, said, "Specificity is the character issue in this campaign." They talked about saving Social Security tonight. They talked a little bit about their tax cuts. But much more determined here, the Bush campaign, to set a tone. "We will run a relatively positive campaign. Let them attack us." As Candy said...

SESNO: That resonates pretty well, too. I was chatting, John, with Congressman Mike Castle, very moderate Republican from Delaware. And he said, "You know, maybe moderation has come to the party." He was very enthusiastic about what he's heard heretofore. And this evening's speech, while there were these comparisons, the sort of social conservative rallying cries were not in this speech. There was no reference, at least that I heard, to abortion issues, to the -- you know, to the -- to gay rights issues and the kinds of things that have been red meat in some of these conventions in the past.

BLITZER: Dick Cheney...

CROWLEY: And they don't need them, though, as we know.

MESERVE: Exactly.

CROWLEY: I mean, this -- here's the one thing we know...

MESERVE: And they don't want them.

CROWLEY: ... this crowd wants to win, and they...

SESNO: Very much.

CROWLEY: ... are willing to sit on, you know, whatever their feelings are about those flash issues and say, "Look, we just don't want" -- you know, "That's not what we're going to put out there" because what they want -- you know, eight years does a lot for your, you know, anticipation of getting back in the White House. And they're quite happy to sit here and take whatever comes from the podium and cheer it wildly.

MESERVE: This may be amazing, but we heard Senator Trent Lott talking about the marriage penalty and emphasizing that. I'm told that that is the issue that the Republican leadership has chosen to emphasize here. They think that is their most potent issue.

BLITZER: What Dick Cheney showed tonight was that he is prepared to play the traditional attack role of a vice president. The question now that we'll all be watching for tomorrow night is, is George W. Bush going to take the high road and avoid that kind of attack, leave it to others, or will he also join the fray. We'll have to wait till tomorrow night to get that.

Let's go back to the booth.

WOODRUFF: You know, whether you guys are seated or standing, you're always insightful. And more than that. Thank you. Our great -- our great floor correspondents.

A reminder. Pierce Bush, the 14-year-old that we just heard them talking about -- he's going to be a guest in about 25 minutes on Larry King Live, so I think...

GREENFIELD: In a year or two...

WOODRUFF: ... we all want to...

GREENFIELD: ... he may be the host.

WOODRUFF: He may!

(LAUGHTER)

GREENFIELD: He's really an amazing young man. You don't want to miss that.

WOODRUFF: George W. Bush grew up in a political family. This is only his fourth race for office. He's 2 for 3 so far. We're going to take a close look at his political past when we come back.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

WOODRUFF: The 1980s and '90s were the decades when the Bush family emerged as one of America's great political dynasties, rivaling even the Kennedys. Now we're going to take a look at what George W. Bush -- what political lessons he learned from that family.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

WOODRUFF (voice-over): His grandfather, Prescott, was a United States senator. His mother, Barbara, a direct descendent of the 14th president, Franklin Pierce. And of course, his father, President George Bush, had a long and illustrious career in public service.

GEORGE H.W. BUSH, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I will faithfully execute the office of president of the United States.

WOODRUFF: So it was no surprise when at the age of 31, with no previous political experience, George W. Bush decided to run for an open congressional seat in west Texas.

GEORGE W. BUSH (R), CONGRESSIONAL CANDIDATE: I'm George Bush, running for the Congress.

JOE O'NEILL, CHILDHOOD FRIEND: In hindsight, you think back, you know, why did he run for Congress so quickly? And the reason was is that George Mayhop (ph), who was our congressman at the time, had been our congressman for 35 years -- your perception was that -- well, that seat's open for just this moment, and then someone else is going to get it for 35 years.

WOODRUFF: Bush's Democratic opponent in the general election was Kent Hance, a west Texas politician who had been in the region his entire life.

KENT HANCE (D), FORMER U.S. REPRESENTATIVE: We took a poll early in the race, and of the people that were voting for George W. Bush -- I'll always remember this -- 36 percent said the reason they were voting for him is he had done an outstanding job in China. And that, you know, made me realize that there was a name identification issue out there.

WOODRUFF: Being mistaken for his father was only one of George W.'s problems in this election.

BILL MINUTAGLIO, AUTHOR, "FIRST SON": This was an old -- old-dog Democrat piece of the planet, real died-in-the-wool Southern Democrats, and George W. certainly was not that.

WOODRUFF: And in a state that adores its native sons, being born in New Haven, Connecticut, and attending the New England bastions of education -- Andover, Yale and Harvard -- worked against the young candidate.

HANCE: I'd gone to Texas Tech University, and you know, we really tried to make it an issue of Texas Tech Red Raiders versus the Yale Bulldogs. And in Lubbock, in Midland and Odessa, there were more Red Raiders than there are Bulldogs.

BUSH: I'll listen to you. I'll work hard for you.

WOODRUFF: Still, George W. Bush was not daunted.

BUSH: Together we can do a lot for west Texas.

WOODRUFF: Always confident, always popular, he gathered his friends, raised a lot of money and ran a strong campaign.

L.E. SAWYER, FRIEND: There were 12 or 14 of us. We sat down, and we divvied up a list of people to contact for financial contributions. It was very exciting to put together a congressional campaign on a grassroots level.

WOODRUFF: When the polls closed, Bush had carried his home town of Midland, but lost much of the rest of the district and the election.

O'NEILL: He learned a great lesson from it, probably the best lesson he ever learned in politics, and that is to define himself and not let your opponent define you.

WOODRUFF (on camera): Ultimately, how was it for his political career that he lost?

HANCE: I think it was probably the best thing that could have happened to him. Made him re-evaluate what he wanted to do in politics. It gave him time to think through some things. And you know, his dad ran for president two years later. Once his dad ran for president and was elected vice president, George W. Bush stayed out of politics until his dad retired.

WOODRUFF (voice-over): The "Reagan revolution" was about to transform America, and as vice president, George Bush would have a front-row seat. The father's achievements were in stark contrast, however, to the son who had drifted through life a bit. His "nomadic" years, he often calls them.

George W. had not struck it rich in the oil business, and his initial foray into politics had been unsuccessful. But now, as his father neared the political pinnacle, George W. was married. His twin girls were born shortly after inauguration, and the vice president began relying on his son.

O'NEILL: Then when Gorge went to work for Mr. Bush's campaign, things started to pick up. He moved to Washington, of course, and he -- he got in the big leagues and, you know, found out he liked it.

WOODRUFF: For eight years, Ronald Reagan had dominated the political landscape. Now George Bush was going to try and make his own imprint on the country, and the son was going to help him in any way he could.

MINUTAGLIO: One of George W.'s duties -- he was essentially dispatched by his father to go out and to meet and serve as an ambassador, if you will, to the Christian right. It was a new political force that the family really didn't know how to deal with.

DOUG WEAD, FORMER BUSH ADVISER: When it was over, we won 81 percent of the Evangelical vote. It's unprecedented. It's -- it's -- it's better than Reagan, than anybody had ever done in history before or since. And it was essentially a George W. Bush operation.

WOODRUFF: After the election, George W. still had an obvious but informal presence in the White House.

MARY MATALIN, FORMER BUSH ADVISER: If there was something his father needed done and could -- wanted to trust -- or felt he couldn't trust anybody else to get it done right, the governor -- then W. did it.

MINUTAGLIO: George W.'s job was to go see those people who weren't serving his father and his mother and say, "On behalf of my father, the president, and my mother, the first lady, you need to change direction."

WOODRUFF: But it wasn't so long before the so-called "loyalty enforcer" chose to go back home to Texas.

O'NEILL: He didn't want to be the son of a president living in Washington, D.C., during his dad's term. If he had a future in politics, he had to have a presence in business. And that's why he chose to move back to Dallas.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: He is out kind of people. He's Texas people and...

WOODRUFF: George W. Bush was as passionate about baseball as he was about politics, and fortuitously, the Texas Rangers were for sale. He organized a coalition to buy the team, and despite the fact he was a minority investor, he became the managing partner.

MINUTAGLIO: It served an enormous political end for George W. He was not only the president's son, but he was seemingly a successful businessman in a high-profile capacity in Texas.

WOODRUFF: George W. Bush had been tempted to run for governor of Texas in 1990, but decided it was not a good idea to run while his father was in the White House. After 12 years of Ronald Reagan and George Bush, American voters were ready for a change. Bill Clinton represented that change. Still, the loss in 1992 was one that George W. never fully understood or accepted.

BOB MCCLESKEY, FRIEND: I think that bothered him more than when he lost. It's personal with your dad. You know, I mean, it's just not political, it's persona.

O'NEILL: George never pointed fingers at, you know -- you know, who blew it for his father. We just lost. But it was a horrible loss because, you know, he just loves his dad.

WOODRUFF: As much as his father's loss disappointed him, George W. was now free to pursue political office himself. And being the managing partner of the Texas Rangers gave him something he did not have when he ran for Congress way back in 1978, genuine Texas credentials.

HANCE: After that race, he said he'd never "out good-old-boyed" again. And I think that he learned a lot about real politics.

MINUTAGLIO: He decided, after he lost in 1978, to begin a process of reinventing himself. He didn't want to be perceived yet again in Texas as a carpetbagger. He needed to be perceived as a pure Texan, even though he might not be.

WOODRUFF: It was a long shot, but George W. Bush decided to run for governor against incumbent Democrat Ann Richards, who had high public approval ratings.

O'NEILL: No one gave him any -- any chance of beating Ann. She was a very popular governor. George perceived, when no one else did, that her strength was broad but not very deep.

MINUTAGLIO: George W. decided, "What I've got to do is reinvent myself. I've got to out-Texan Ann Richards," and he did. He worked very, very hard at that. He started wearing these $2,000 eelskin boots. They happened to have a picture of the Texas flag on the boots that he made sure that whenever he was photographed, people could see those boots.

WOODRUFF: Texas voters responded not only to his boots but to his message. His campaign focused on four issues: education, Welfare reform, tort reform and crime. And he was elected, getting 54 percent of the vote to Ann Richards's 45 percent, the largest margin in the state in 20 years. Four years later, he was reelected in a landslide. His brother, Jeb, was also elected governor of Florida. For two brothers to be elected governors of separate states was nothing short of extraordinary, but for the Bush family it was what was expected. This, after all, was what George W., as the eldest son, had seen his father do as long as he could remember.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

WOODRUFF: And we button up this third night of the convention when we come back with the Capital Gang.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

GREENFIELD: Earlier tonight, the World Wrestling champ. Now our championship wrestlers, the Capital Gang. To Mark Shields.

MARK SHIELDS, HOST, CNN "CAPITAL GANG": Thank you very much, Jeff.

From the floor of the Republican convention, the third night, after two days of Norman Vincent Peale, very positive, thinking good thoughts, we had a rhetorical bulldog in Dick Cheney.

I'm Mark Shields, with Robert Novak, Kate O'Beirne and Al Hunt, and we're going to give you the honest, candid and insightful assessment of this speech.

Al Hunt, Dick Cheney, dull as dishwater, lackluster -- what did he do tonight?

AL HUNT, CNN "CAPITAL GANG": Nobody ever said he was William Jennings Bryan, but I'll tell you something, he gave a good, solid, B- plus speech tonight. He did two things, Mark. He liberated this hall. They were just ecstatic to finally hear someone go after Clinton and Gore. And he also liberated the Democrats because they are delighted that the issues have been joined now. So I think this was a good night for everybody.

SHIELDS: Bob Novak, what the Republicans have decided to do is to join Al Gore to the hip of Bill Clinton...

ROBERT NOVAK, CNN "CAPITAL GANG": Exactly.

SHIELDS: ... the most popular president, in job performance, ever recorded in the eighty year of his presidency, but with personal problems. And they're going to make him -- it's going to make it -- just as it was Gingrich-Dole, they're going to make it Clinton-Gore.

NOVAK: Absolutely. That was -- that was the plan, it was revealed tonight. Mark, this is the 19th convention I've covered, and I have never heard a vice presidential speech received that well. Now, usually, the vice president is on Thursday night. Everybody's going home. It's an anti-climax. Who gives a damn? But this was a convention, as Al said, they wanted to cheer about something. I thought he delivered it with a great deal of force. You know, when he tried to run for president, he had an aborted run for president...

SHIELDS: In '95.

NOVAK: ... in '95, his -- his speech-making was pretty poor. But he was -- I thought he was very effective, very dignified, used some -- the -- "It's time for them to go" line, which Al Gore had used... SHIELDS: In 1992...

(CROSSTALK)

NOVAK: And it really was -- I thought it was a well-delivered speech, well-written speech. I wouldn't give it a B-plus on the -- on the vice presidential spectrum. I'd say it was an A-plus.

SHIELDS: Well, I'll tell you, you've always been an easy grader.

But Kate O'Beirne, we were told tonight that Lynne Cheney, the real fiery one of the Cheneys up until this August evening -- she contributed and actually helped write Dick Cheney's speech. Your assessment of that speech?

KATE O'BEIRNE, CNN "CAPITAL GANG": It was a terrific speech, and very well-received in this hall. There was a pent-up demand to begin hearing this sort of a speech, but with good, plain language. Dick Cheney's persona, his tone, his good, strong voice I think was a very -- the most effective case I've heard for the change that this Republican ticket's going to be arguing for. And when he says about Clinton and Gore, Dick Cheney says, "You never see one without thinking about the other," that is the big problem Al Gore faces in November. And when he talked -- "restoring decency and integrity to the White House" -- he says to the military, "Help is on the way." That is a very effective case against the Clinton and Gore team.

HUNT: Well, let me tell you why the Democrats are pleased, Mark, because he joined the issue. He said, "Let's compare it to how things were eight years ago." They like that equation. They like talking about what's down. Interest rates are down. Violent crime is down. Unwed pregnancies are down. They love to talk about what's up. This is the Democrats. And jobs are up. The stock market's up. Bob Novak's wealth is up. I mean, they love to have that issue joined.

NOVAK: That is -- but that is not what he said. He didn't talk about what's up and what's down. It wasn't about statistics. It was about Bill Clinton, and Bill Clinton joined at the hip with Gore -- "It's time for them to go" -- it was an emotional speech!

SHIELDS: I've listened very patiently to the three of you. Now I'll give my assessment. The fact of the matter is, he raised the stakes for Al Gore in Los Angeles. Al Gore has to have a strong declaration of independence, but at the same time, he cannot appear to be running and hiding from Bill Clinton. So he can't -- can't appear...

NOVAK: It's tough.

SHIELDS: But it does -- it raises the stakes. There's no doubt about it. But I really think we saw in Dick Cheney tonight a man who was like a teetotaler having his first double vodka at the age of 40. He liked that raw meat. He liked that crowd reaction. And Bob, what are they going to do for a follow-up?

NOVAK: But that was... (CROSSTALK)

NOVAK: That was not a vegetarian speech, but it certainly wasn't raw meat. I mean, compared to the raw-meat speeches that I've seen at conventions...

O'BEIRNE: No, he was perfectly...

(CROSSTALK)

O'BEIRNE: He was perfectly comfortable. He's watched what's gone on over the past seven years. Certainly when it comes to the military, he better than anyone can talk about how Clinton's given them too little and asked to do too much. No, this struck me as what he firmly believes about what's happened in the Oval Office. And you're not going to see this man making Macarena jokes.

NOVAK: And there's one other thing is low expectations. Everybody says he couldn't give a speech.

O'BEIRNE: Yes, and he gave a speech.

NOVAK: And so he -- he went way above those expectations.

HUNT: I think it's good for the Democrats to talk about what's gone on over the last seven years, if it's performance as opposed to personal.

SHIELDS: All right, I think, quickly, once around -- once around, and that is I think it played well in the hall. I'm not as sure with undecided voters outside the hall. But let's just quickly -- what does George Bush have to do tomorrow night? In 15 seconds, Al Hunt.

HUNT: To show he's a mature person who's up to the job. That simple.

O'BEIRNE: He has to be...

SHIELDS: Kate?

O'BEIRNE: ... plausible and talk about issues.

NOVAK: I think he has to say more than "Let's get rid of Clinton." I think he has to have a vision for the future.

SHIELDS: I agree with Bob, he has to have a vision for the future, but I do think that -- I hear this convention people, and the delegates, comparing him to Ronald Reagan. He does not right now appear to sail by a fixed star. He has to lay out in specific detail what he intends to do. I'm not talking programs or policies.

NOVAK: No, a vision.

SHIELDS: Specifically how this country's going to be changed four years from now if he's elected. And he's go tot fill the chair. NOVAK: You're right.

SHIELDS: He's had nothing...

NOVAK: But you're saying he has to be Ronald Reagan. He doesn't...

SHIELDS: No, I'm not!

NOVAK: He doesn't have to be Ronald Reagan.

SHIELDS: I'm saying he has to be a president.

O'BEIRNE: He has to look plausible.

SHIELDS: You have to -- you have to look at him...

(CROSSTALK)

HUNT: It's called gravitas.

SHIELDS: A little gravitas!

NOVAK: I thought Cheney had a lot of gravitas tonight.

O'BEIRNE: He sure did.

SHIELDS: Did you really?

NOVAK: I really did.

SHIELDS: You've always liked...

(CROSSTALK)

SHIELDS: ... like investment bankers, Bob!

That's it for "THE CAPITAL GANG." Right -- going right back to Jeff or Judy, one of them...

NOVAK: To the booth.

SHIELDS: ... to that -- to that terrific booth in the sky. And a great booth it is!

WOODRUFF: To one of us. And you certainly have gravitas tonight. Thank you, "Capital Gang."

That is all for Bernie, Jeff and me. Good night from here. Tomorrow night, we'll be right back with the big speech.

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