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Gov. George W. Bush Accepts GOP's Presidential Nomination

Aired August 3, 2000 - 9:59 p.m. ET



GOV. GEORGE W. BUSH (R-TX), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I think in order to be good president, first and foremost, you have to know where you want to lead. I want to lead America to a day that everybody in this country feels that the great American dream belongs to them as much as anybody else, if they're willing to work for it.

There is kind of life I think that a lot of Americans feel is slipping away. Safe for kids everywhere, and baseball, barbecues, football games after church. Midland is out in middle of no really. It's kind of on the edge. And I know this may sound trite, but in the '50s, people who went to Midland were pretty daring, and were kind of pioneers, entrepreneurial pioneers, in many ways. Their used to be slogan in Midland said, "The Sky is the Limit," which really is such an optimistic slogan. It's how I feel about America really.

BARBARA BUSH, FORMER FIRST LADY: The kids all were the same. They all went to public school and then on to high school, and when Robin died, Jebbie was just about 3 or 4 months old and George was 7.

G.W. BUSH: It was a tough time. The thing I came away from that is that is marriages face stressful situations, and sometimes a stressful situation like that can wreck a marriage. In this case, it made my mother and dad's marriage that much stronger, brought them together and brought our family together.

B. BUSH: But he compensated by trying to make me feel better. And for about six months, George kept big George and me laughing, or playing with us or doing things with us, and we, on the other hand, were trying to do things with him so he wouldn't feel neglected. When suddenly one day I heard him out window say to Mike Procter, a friend his, "I'm sorry, Mike. I can't come out and play. I have to play with my mother." And I realized that that caring little boy had -- he'd really had been entertaining me. I hadn't been entertaining him at all. So I had to let him go.

LAURA BUSH, WIFE OF GOV. GEORGE W. BUSH: We met in Midland in 1977. George had moved back in 1975.

B. BUSH: He fell so madly in love with her so quickly.

L. BUSH: It was a whirlwind romance. I was school librarian then in Austin, Texas, and I came home for a couple of weeks in the summer to stay with my parents, and George and I met then.

B. BUSH: And George knocked on the door, and he said, "Mother, I want you to meet Laura Welch. She's the girl I have to marry." I said "What?" And he meant I'm going to marry.

L. BUSH: Married right away, and then I moved back to Midland, and that was a very sweet time in our lives. That was when we had our children.

G.W. BUSH: There was a great moment when they were born, and I was in delivery room, and it was just an incredible feeling of life and the preciousness of life, and I realized I was responsible for helping them grow up in a safe and secure home, that I was responsible for loving them with all my heart and all my soul, that I was going to be responsible for helping them get a good education, and they -- these girls mean more to us than anything, and they've just graduated from high school, and it just seems like yesterday we were at the hospital having birth.


G.W. BUSH: I like to laugh. And I like to laugh with people, and you know, sometimes I find myself I need to laugh at some of the things I say. I'm just -- I'm a person who likes to smile.

MAYOR CARLOS M. RAMIREZ (D), EL PASO, TEXAS: The governor has family values that are very dear to Hispanics. We have seen that. He embraces those family values. We have those family values, so we identify with him.

GEORGE H.W. BUSH, FORMER PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: You know, their the same values that everybody here teaches their own kids. To be honest, tell the truth, give somebody else credit.

G.W. BUSH: Country is so -- values are so strong and the concept of entrepreneurship, family, freedom, such a powerful, powerful part of the American experience, that somebody who's newly arrived to this country can be just as an American as somebody who has been here for generations.

A wonderful man named John White asked me to come work with him, and in a project in the third ward of Houston called Project PULL. It was a mentoring program.

ERNIE LADD, CO-FOUNDER, PULL: The meaning of PULL was Professional United Leadership League. We had professional people who were schoolteachers, football players, basketball players, lawyers and doctors involved, and help going to community to help minority kids.

G.W. BUSH: I realized then that society can change and must change one person at a time, and but it was place that was full of activity, and energy, and kids were coming from tough circumstances. I saw that firsthand one night when I took a little boy who I took a shining to named Jimmy Dean. I took him home, and it's a situation I had never seen before. It was a living room with his mom, looked like she was on drugs, and bunch of hanger-oners, and smoke filled, and this was this boy's home, and it was tragic and sad that he was growing up in such a tough environment, an environment that -- where the love that I had known as a child seemed like the drugs and alcohol abuse had replaced that love. And unfortunately, the story ends on a sad note. My little friend was shot when he became a teenager, and died.

LADD: We all were made in the image of God, regardless of the color of skin, and George Bush was a part of working this out for the city of Houston. The city of Houston could be very well thankful for George Bush and John White.

G.W. BUSH: One of the great challenges of our generation is to assume responsibility and lead. We started as the "if it feels good, do it" generation. But now we're moms, and dads, and business leaders and teachers. If we don't help others, if we don't step up and lead, who will? That's one of the reasons I ran for governor of Texas.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I have seen a big difference since he has been governor of the state of Texas in the amount of supports that we have to help us as educators reach the standards. He said, if you need it, we'll get it for you. We have Web sites. We have grant programs. We have teacher training in the state of Texas, and we have George leading the way. George W. -- people ask me why have I followed him so intently in this education and reading. I followed him because he's been leader. He has been leading the way.

G.W. BUSH: Reading is new civil right, and inherent in that statement is this profound knowledge, and it says, if you can't read, you can't access the American dream.

"Dear Governor Bush, thank for you coming to our school and for your visit. Thank you for trying to be our president. We hope that a lot of people vote for you." So do I. "If you become president, we hope that you will make the world safer and that there will be no more bad guys."

America's more than just another country. America is more than just a place. It's an ideal. Teddy Roosevelt said, "It's hard to fail, but it's worse never to have tried." Our great country was built by people who never gave up and never gave in.





JOHN F. KENNEDY, FORMER PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Ask not what your country can do for you...




G.W. BUSH: Dreamers, the doers who take risks and sometimes failed, but then rose above failure to achieve greater good things.


RICHARD NIXON, FORMER PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Because of what you have done, the heavens have become a part of man's world.


G.W. BUSH: I'm confident I can do the job that people want me to do. I'm a proud member of my party. But I'm more than that -- I'm an American. I love my country. I love what America stands for. I'm going to remind people that we're lucky to be Americans.


JEFF GREENFIELD, CNN SENIOR ANALYST: So after a Republican convention video that featured among other things the inaugural address of John F. Kennedy, Martin Luther King's "I have a dream" speech and the moon landing voice of Richard Nixon, Texas Governor George W. Bush is about to speak for himself.

JUDY WOODRUFF, CNN ANCHOR: Not like any film you thought you would see at a Republican convention. This is a different face this party is trying to put on itself.

BERNARD SHAW, CNN ANCHOR: From the floor to the rafters, the highest seats in this hall, this place is packed. People are standing, cheering, waving objects, in anticipation, and here he begins.



Mr. Chairman...


Thank you all.


Thank you very much. Thank you.


Mr. Chairman -- Mr. Chairman, delegates and my fellow citizens, I proudly accept your nomination. (APPLAUSE)

Thank you. Thank you for this honor.


Thank you for this honor.

Together, we will renew America's purpose.


Our founders first defined that purpose here in Philadelphia. Ben Franklin was here, Thomas Jefferson and, of course, George Washington, or, as his friends, called him, George W.


I am proud to have Dick Cheney by my side.


He is a man -- he is a man of integrity and sound judgment who has proven that public service can be noble service.

America will be proud to have a leader of such character to succeed Al Gore as vice president of the United States.


I'm grateful for Senator John McCain. I appreciate so very much his speech two nights ago. I appreciate his friendship. I love his spirit for America. And I want to thank the other candidates who sought this office, as well. Their convictions have strengthened our party.


I'm especially grateful tonight to my family. No matter what else I do in my life, asking Laura to marry me was the best decision I ever made.


And to our daughters, Barbara and Jenna, we love you a lot. We're proud of you. And as you head off to college this fall, don't stay out too late.


And e-mail your old dad once in a while, will you?


And mother, everybody loves you and so do I.


Growing up -- growing up, she gave me love and lots of advice. I gave her white hair.


And I want to thank my dad, the most decent man I have ever known.


All of my life I have been amazed that a gentle soul could be so strong.

Dad, I am proud to be your son.


My father was the last president of a great generation, a generation of Americans who stormed beaches, liberated concentration camps and delivered us from evil. Some never came home. Those who did put their medals in drawers, went to work and built on a heroic scale highways and universities, suburbs and factories, great cities and grand alliances, the strong foundations of an American century.

Now the question comes to the sons and daughters of this achievement, what is asked of us? This is a remarkable moment in the life of our nation. Never has the promise of prosperity been so vivid.

But times of plenty like times of crises are tests of American character.

Prosperity can be a tool in our hands used to build and better our country, or it can be a drug in our system dulling our sense of urgency, of empathy, of duty. Our opportunities are too great, our lives too short, to waste this moment.

So tonight, we vow to our nation we will seize this moment of American promise. We will use these good times for great goals.


We will confront the hard issues, threats to our national security, threats to our health and retirement security, before the challenges of our time become crises for our children.

And we will extend the promise of prosperity to every forgotten corner of this country: to every man and woman, a chance to succeed; to every child, a chance to learn; and to every family, a chance to live with dignity and hope.


For eight years the Clinton-Gore administration has coasted through prosperity. The path of least resistance is always down hill. But America's way is the rising road. This nation is daring and decent and ready for change.

Our current president embodied the potential of a generation -- so many talents, so much charm, such great skill. But in the end, to what end? So much promise to no great purpose.


Little more than a -- little more than a decade ago, the Cold War thawed, and with the leadership of Presidents Reagan and Bush, that wall came down.


But instead of seizing this moment, the Clinton-Gore administration has squandered it. We have seen a steady erosion of American power and an unsteady exercise of American influence. Our military is low on parts, pay and morale. If called on by the commander-in-chief today, two entire divisions of the Army would have to report, "Not ready for duty, sir."

This administration had its moment, they had their chance, they have not led. We will.


This generation -- this generation was given the gift of the best education in American history, yet we do not share that gift with everyone. Seven of 10 fourth graders in our highest poverty schools cannot read a simple children's book. And still this administration continues on the same old path, the same old programs, while millions are trapped in schools where violence is common and learning is rare.

This administration had its chance. They have not led. We will.


America has a strong economy and a surplus. We have the public resources and the public will, even the bipartisan opportunities to strengthen Social Security and repair Medicare. But this administration, during eight years of increasing need, did nothing.

They had their moment. They have not led. We will.


Our generation has a chance to reclaim some essential values, to show we have grown up before we grow old. But when the moment for leadership came, this administration did not teach our children, it disillusioned them.

They had their chance. They have not led. We will.


And now they come asking for another chance, another shot. Our answer: Not this time, not this year. (APPLAUSE)

This is not the time for third chances; it is the time for new beginnings.


The rising generations of this country have our own appointment with greatness. It does not rise or fall with the stock market. It cannot be bought with our wealth. Greatness is found when American character and American courage overcome American challenges.

When Lewis Morris of New York was about to sign the Declaration of Independence, his brother advised against it, warning he would lose all his property. But Morris, a plain-spoken founder, responded, "Damn the consequences, give me the pen."



That is the eloquence of American action. We heard it during World War II when General Eisenhower told paratroopers on D- Day morning not to worry. And one replied, "We're not worried, General. It's Hitler's turn to worry now."


We heard it in the civil rights movement, when brave men and women that did not say, "We shall cope," or "We shall see." They said, "We shall overcome."


An American president must call upon that character.

Tonight in this hall, we resolve to be the party of -- not of repose but of reform. We will write not footnotes but chapters in the American story. We will add the work of our hands to the inheritance of our fathers and mothers and leave this nation greater than we found it.


We know the test of leadership. The issues are joined. We will strengthen Social Security and Medicare for the greatest generation and for generations to come.


Medicare does more than meet the needs of our elderly; it reflects the values of our society. We will set it on firm financial ground and make prescription drugs available and affordable for every senior who needs them.

(APPLAUSE) Social Security has been called the third rail of American politics, the one you're not supposed to touch because it might shock you. But if you don't touch it, you cannot fix it.

And I intend to fix it.


To the seniors in this country, you earned your benefits, you made your plans, and President George W. Bush will keep the promise of Social Security, no changes, no reductions, no way.


Our opponents will say otherwise. This is their last parting ploy, and don't believe a word of it.

Now is the time -- now is the time for Republicans and Democrats to end the politics of fear and save Social Security together.


For younger workers, we will give you the option, your choice, to put part of your payroll taxes into sound, responsible investments.


This will mean a higher return on your money in over 30 or 40 years, a nest egg to help your retirement or to pass on to your children.

When this money is in your name, in your account, it's just not a program, it's your property.

Now is the time to give American workers security and independence that no politician can ever take away.


On education, too many American children are segregated into schools without standards, shuffled from grade to grade because of their age, regardless of their knowledge. This is discrimination, pure and simple, the soft bigotry of low expectations. And our nation...


And our nation should treat it like other forms of discrimination: We should end it.


One size does not fit all when it comes to educating our children, so local people should control local schools.

(APPLAUSE) And those who spend your tax dollars must be held accountable. When a school district receives federal funds to teach poor children, we expect them to learn. And if they don't, parents should get the money to make a different choice.


Now is the time to make Head Start an early learning program to teach all our children to read and renew the promise of America's public schools.


Another test of leadership is tax relief.


The last time taxes were this high as a percentage of our economy, there was a good reason; we were fighting World War II. Today our high taxes fund a surplus. Some say that growing federal surplus means Washington has more money to spend.

But they've got it backwards. The surplus is not the government's money; the surplus is the people's money.


I will use this moment of opportunity to bring common sense and fairness to the tax code. And I will act on principle. On principle, every family, every farmer and small-business person should be free to pass on their life's work to those they love, so we will abolish the death tax.


On principle, no one in America should have to pay more than a third of their income to the federal government, so we will reduce tax rates for everyone in every bracket.


On principle, those with the greatest need should receive the greatest help, so we will lower the bottom rate from 15 percent to 10 percent and double the child credit.


Now is the time to reform the tax code and share some of the surplus with the people who pay the bills.


The world needs America's strength and leadership. And America's armed forces need better equipment, better training and better pay.


We will give our military the means to keep the peace, and we will give it one thing more: a commander-in-chief who respects our men and women in uniform and a commander-in-chief who earns their respect.


A generation shaped by Vietnam must remember the lessons of Vietnam: When America uses force in the world, the cause must be just, the goal must be clear, and the victory must be overwhelming.


I will work to reduce nuclear weapons and nuclear tension in the world, to turn these years of influence into decades of peace. And at the earliest possible date, my administration will deploy missile defenses to guard against attack and blackmail.


Now is the time not to defend outdated treaties but to defend the American people.


A time of prosperity is a test of vision, and our nation today needs vision.

That's a fact. That's a fact. Or as my opponent might call it, a risky truth scheme.



Every one of the proposals I've talked about tonight he's called a risky scheme over and over again. It is the sum of his message, the politics of the roadblock, the philosophy of the stop sign.

If my opponent had been at the moon launch, it would have been a risky rocket scheme.



If he had been there when Edison was testing the light bulb, it would have been a risky anti-candle scheme.


And if he had been there when the Internet was invented...

AUDIENCE: No more Gore. No more Gore. No more Gore.

BUSH: He now leads -- he now leads the party of Franklin Delano Roosevelt, but the only thing he has to offer is fear itself.


That outlook is typical of many in Washington, always seeing the tunnel at the end of the light.


But I come from a different place and it has made me a different leader. In Midland, Texas, where I grew up, the town motto was, "The sky's the limit," and we believed it. There was a restless energy, a basic conviction that with hard work, anybody could succeed and everybody deserved a chance.

Our sense of community -- our sense of community was just as strong as that sense of promise. Neighbors helped each other. There were dry wells and sand storms to keep you humble, life-long friends to take your side, and churches to remind us that every soul is equal in value and equal in need.


This background leaves more than an accent, it leaves an outlook: optimistic, impatient with pretense, confident that people can chart their own course in life.

That background may lack the polish of Washington. Then again, I don't have a lot of things that come with Washington. I don't have enemies to fight. I have no stake in the bitter arguments of the last few years. I want to change the tone of Washington to one of civility and respect.


The largest lesson I learned in Midland still guides me as governor of Texas: Everyone, from immigrant to entrepreneur, has an equal claim on this country's promise. So we improved our schools dramatically for children of every accent, of every background. We moved people from welfare to work. We strengthened our juvenile justice laws. Our budgets have been balanced with surpluses. And we cut taxes, not only once, but twice.


We accomplished a lot.

I don't deserve all the credit, and I don't attempt to take it. I work with Republicans and Democrats to get things done.

A bittersweet part of tonight is that someone is missing, the late lieutenant government of Texas, Bob Bullock.


Bob was a Democrat, a crusty veteran of Texas politics, and my great friend. We worked side by side, he endorsed my re-election, and I know he is with me in spirit in saying to those who would malign our state for political gain: Don't mess with Texas.


As governor, I've made difficult decisions and stood by them under pressure.

I've been where the buck stops in business and in government. I've been a chief executive who sets an agenda, sets big goals, and rallies people to believe and achieve them. I am proud of this record, and I am prepared for the work ahead.

If you give me your trust, I will honor it. Grant me a mandate, I will use it. Give me the opportunity to lead this nation, and I will lead.


And we need a leader to seize the opportunities of this new century: the new cures of medicine, the amazing technologies that will drive our economy and keep the peace. But our new economy must never forget the old, unfinished struggle for human dignity. And here we face a challenge to the very heart and founding premise of our nation.

A couple of years ago, I visited a juvenile jail in Marlin, Texas, and talked with a group of young inmates. They were angry, wary kids. All had committed grownup crimes. Yet when I looked in their eyes, I realized some of them were still little boys.

Toward the end of the conversation, one young man, about 15 years old, raised his hand and asked a haunting question, "What do you think of me?" He seemed to be asking, like many Americans who struggle: Is there hope for me? Do I have a chance? And, frankly, do you, a white man in a suit, really care what happens to me?

A small voice, but it speaks for so many: single moms struggling to feed the kids and pay the rent; immigrants starting a hard life in a new world; children without fathers in neighborhoods where gangs seem like friendship or drugs promise peace, and where sex sadly seems the closest thing to belonging. We are their country, too. And each of us must share in its promise, or the promise is diminished for all.

If that boy in Marlin believes he's trapped and worthless and hopeless, if he believes his life has no value, then other lives have no value to him, and we're all diminished.

When these problems are not confronted, it builds a wall within our nation. On one side are wealth, technology, education and ambition. On the other side of that wall are poverty and prison, addiction and despair. And my fellow Americans, we must tear down that wall.

Big government is not the answer, but the alternative to bureaucracy is not indifference. It is to put conservative values and conservative ideas into the thick of the fight for justice and opportunity. This is what I mean by compassionate conservatism. And on this ground, we will lead our nation.


We will give low-income Americans tax credits to buy the private health insurance they need and deserve.


We will transform today's housing rental program to help hundreds of thousands of low-income families find stability and dignity in a home of their own.


And in the next bold step of welfare reform, we will support the heroic work of homeless shelters and hospices, food pantry and crisis pregnancy centers, people reclaiming their communities block by block and heart by heart.


I think of Mary Jo Copeland, whose ministry called Sharing and Caring Hands serves 1,000 meals a week in Minneapolis, Minnesota.


Each day, Mary Jo washes the feet of the homeless and sends them off with new socks and shoes. "Look after your feet," she tells them. "They must carry you a long way in this world, and then all the way to God."

Government cannot do this work. It can feed the body, but it cannot reach the soul.


Yet, government can take the side of these groups, helping the helper, encouraging the inspired. My administration will give taxpayers new incentives to donate to charity, encourage after-school programs that build character, and support mentoring groups that shape and save young lives.


We must give our children a spirit of moral courage because their character is our destiny.


We must tell them -- we must tell them -- we must tell them with confidence that drugs and alcohol can destroy you, and bigotry disfigures the heart.

(APPLAUSE) Our schools must support the ideals of parents, elevating character and abstinence from afterthoughts to urgent goals.


We must help protect our children in our schools and streets, and by finally and strictly enforcing our nation's gun laws.


But most of all, we must teach our children the values that defeat violence. I will lead our nation toward a culture that values life -- the life of the elderly and sick, the life of the young and the life of the unborn.


Good people can disagree on this issue, but surely we can agree on ways to value life by promoting adoption, parental notification. And when Congress sends me a bill against partial-birth abortion, I will sign it into law.


Behind every goal I've talked about tonight is a great hope for our country. A hundred years from now this must not be remembered as an age rich in possession and poor in ideals.

Instead, we must usher in an era of responsibility.


My generation tested limits, and our country in some ways is better for it. Women are now treated more equally.


Racial progress has been steady; it's still too slow. We're learning to protect...


... we're learning to protect the natural world around us. We will continue this progress, and we will not turn back.


At times we lost our way, but we're coming home.


So many of us held our first child and saw a better self reflected in her eyes. And in that family love, many have found the sign and symbol of an even greater love, and have been touched by faith.

We discovered that who we are is more than important than what we have. And we know we must renew our values to restore our country.


This is the vision of America's founders. They never saw our nation's greatness in rising wealth or in advancing armies, but in small, unnumbered acts of caring and courage and self-denial.

Their highest hope, as Robert Frost described it, was to occupy the land with character. And that, 13 generations later, is still our goal: to occupy the land with character.


In a responsibility era, each of us has important tasks, work that only we can do. Each of us is responsible to love and guide our children and to help a neighbor in need. Synagogues, churches and mosques are responsible, not only to worship, but to serve. Corporations are responsible to treat their workers fairly and to leave the air and waters clean.


And our nation's leaders are responsible to confront problems, not pass them onto others.


And to lead this nation to a responsibility era, that president himself must be responsible.

So when I put my hand on the Bible, I will swear to not only uphold the laws of our land, I will swear to uphold the honor and dignity of the office to which I have been elected, so help me God.


I believe the presidency, the final point of decision in the American government, was made for great purposes. It is the office of Lincoln's conscience, of Teddy Roosevelt's energy, of Harry Truman's integrity and Ronald Reagan's optimism.


For me, gaining this office is not the ambition of a lifetime, but it is the opportunity of a lifetime, and I will make the most of it.


I believe great decisions are made with care, made with conviction, not made with polls.


I do not need to take your pulse before I know my own mind.

I do not reinvent myself at every turn. I am not running in borrowed clothes.


When I act, you will know my reasons. And when I speak, you will know my heart.


I believe in tolerance, not in spite of my faith, but because of it.


I believe in a God who calls us not to judge our neighbors but to love them.


I believe in grace because I've seen it, and peace because I've felt it, and forgiveness because I've needed it.


I believe true leadership is a process of addition, not an act of division.

I will not attack a part of this country because I want to lead the whole of it.


And I believe this'll be a tough race, down to the wire. Their war room is up and running, but we are ready.


Their attacks will be relentless, but they will be answered. We are facing something familiar, but they're facing something new.


We are now the party of ideas and innovation, the party of idealism and inclusion, the party of a simple and powerful hope.

My fellow citizens, we can begin again.


After all of the shouting and all of the scandal, after all the bitterness and broken faith, we can begin again.


The wait has been long, but it won't be long now.

(APPLAUSE) A prosperous nation is ready to renew its purpose and unite behind great goals, and it won't be long now.


Our nation must renew the hopes of that boy I talked with in jail and so many like him, and it won't be long now.


Our country is ready for high standards and new leaders, and it won't be long now.


An era of tarnished ideals is giving way to a responsibility era, and it won't be long now.


I know how serious the task is before me. I know the presidency is an office that turns pride into prayer. But I am eager to start on the work ahead, and I believe America is ready for a new beginning.


My friend, the artist Tom Lea of El Paso, Texas, captured the way I feel about our great land, a land I love. He and his wife, he said, "Live on the east side of the mountain. It's the sunrise side, not the sunset side. It is the side to see the day that is coming, not to see the day that has gone."

Americans live on the sunrise side of the mountain, the night is passing, and we're ready for the day to come.

God bless. God bless America.


WOODRUFF: Quite a speech, quite a speech.

SHAW: Governor Bush tonight calling for a mandate from the American people to be the 43rd president. His themes: his vision for the nation, interspersed with reasons why he can lead under a banner of compassionate conservatism.

GREENFIELD: Bernie and Judy, a speech that I think to some of us -- a surprise to some of us had a lot more specifics and a lot more substance than some acceptance speeches do. George Bush thinking, I think, that he did not need to do what his father did 12 years ago and establish a miracle theme, but to say, look, I understand the problems.

Dick and Lynne Cheney now join the Bushes.

WOODRUFF: Quite a fireworks display up there. We've got laser lights. We've got balloons by the zillions. We've got confetti by the quadrillions, and you can't even see the people on the -- one the podium from here for all the -- whatever that is. I don't know whether that's confetti or something that's coming down.

GREENFIELD: It is more confetti than has ever been dropped at a convention, our crack researchers tell us. And you'll not all the balloons that dropped: Back in 1980, Jimmy Carter's acceptance speech was marred by a balloon drop failure.

WOODRUFF: On the stage now, Governor Bush, his wife, Laura Bush, their two daughters, Jenna and Barbara. Now we see fireworks. My goodness. The Cheneys, Dick Cheney, his wife, Lynne, and we assume their daughters, Elizabeth and Mary.

SHAW: All the while this is happening, the security, as you can understand, is very tense here. And the thing about these balloons, 150,000 balloons coming out of the ceiling is that people like to pop balloons, they like to burst them, and security people, men and women on the security forces do not like that.

WOODRUFF: This speech brought the crowd to its feet, I don't know, we didn't count it, but dozens of times. Why don't we go down to the floor to Jeanne Meserve.

Jeanne, where are you and...

JEANNE MESERVE, CNN CORRESPONDENT: I'm in the state of Kentucky right now, and wowie, zowie, what a show we have going on right now. The red, white and blue confetti showering down upon us, skating in the air. I can't tell you how strange it is to look up to see hundreds of balloons coming right down on top of you. Now we have fireworks going on in the ceiling. They were going up earlier on the stage, quit a show. The audience clearly loving it, but I will tell you this one thing dampening their enjoyment in the Nevada state. It is unbelievably warm down here and we are packed in. I've never been a sardine but now I think I know what it feels like to be one.

They really like this speech. He was reaching out to all kinds of people, reaching out to the base of the party talking about things like military defense and values and church and invoking Ronald Reagan.

We're going to move now over to Candy Crowley from another part of the floor.

CANDY CROWLEY, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Jeanne, I hope you'll forgive me if I've repeated anything you've said. It is really hard to hear over here. You're seeing right now on that stage the final picture of unity they want to have come out of this convention. John McCain walked out front and center, shook hands with Bush. You see to the left-hand side of Bush all of those politicians, Washington and state politicians that were not present at all on the podium during the program, but they are there tonight.

This was supposed to be the speech of this man's life. He may well have done it, at least for his political life. We're being bombarded by the sky of balloons. I'm not sure what picture you're seeing, but this is a wild scene standing right between Texas and California.

And now to my colleague, John King.

JOHN KING, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Thank you, Candy. Standing over behind the Texas delegation is the Hawaii delegation. As you can imagine, the Texans having quite a wild time in the confetti and the balloons. Interesting watching some of the most contributive delegates here in the back of Texas and across the aisle in Oklahoma. When the governor made his reference to protecting the life of the unborn, there was quite a cheer here, but also, quite a cheer as well as the governor acknowledged there are differences on that issue. And in the back now, the balloons are high in the air. People enjoying this moment.

I remember being on the floor in 1996 in San Diego while the Republicans were celebrating then. Many of the delegates acknowledgement they were pessimistic about Bob Dole's chances. On the floor here tonight, they are very optimistic that George W. Bush and Dick Cheney will take back the White House after eight years of Democratic rule.

Now over to my right to Frank Sesno.

SESNO: Well, we are surrounded, of course, by a lot of very enthusiastic delegates. And for those of you who are keeping score, and I swear I had a conversation with a fellow who supplied the confetti, he said there were more -- would be more pieces of confetti than there are Americans in this nation. He made it, he said, and there would be 300 billion pieces. I won't count.

The speech was everything that was promised and more, a blend of traditions. You almost heard a little bit of Ronald Reagan and sort of attacking the tax-and-spend Democrats when he said, "It's your surplus. We'll return the taxes." But also -- and he said cut taxes -- but also, the new, and that compassionate conservatism we heard so much about. "Bold speech," said one delegate next to me. "Everything we wanted to hear and more."

To Wolf Blitzer now.

WOLF BLITZER, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Frank, there's no doubt that the governor tried and succeeded in needling, as he likes to call it, Al Gore. There were several zingers against Al Gore, and this crowd, of course, loved all of them, including the suggestion that Al Gore may have created the Internet. And also, that one line that we'll not have to reinvent himself nor borrow any clothes in order to advance his political career, his political career. The crowd, especially those of the Texas delegation, loved that. Oh, the other line that he said with enough gusto, "Don't mess with Texas." Back to you in the booth.

GREENFIELD: Thank you, folks. With us in this booth is Ken Khachigian, who, since 1968, has labored in the vineyards of the Republican Party probably noticeably as a speech writer with Nixon, with Ronald Reagan, most recently with John McCain.

Ken, first, were you surprised -- and tell us why -- not if you were surprised but why the level of specificity. That's the kind of stuff that brings a crowd off its feet where they have to listen. They can't stand and scream for Social Security. Why did he do it?

KEN KHACHIGIAN, CHIEF REAGAN SPEECHWRITER: I think this was an occasion where he had to prove that he was ready to be president, not that he wasn't ready, but that he had to display it, he had to show it. He had to inform millions of people if there was any question in their mind, if there was any skepticism, that he is a two-term governor, was prepared and that this would do it. And so, therefore, the substance to round out the speech, to give it meat and not just flavor.

WOODRUFF: Ken, the most important night of his life. Why aren't his parents up there with him?

KHACHIGIAN: You know, I think one of the things that impressed me about this speech is he didn't run away from his dad and his mom. There's been some criticism over the past few months. And I think that it showed a lot of strength on his part to stand there and tell his love for his parents and his dad -- and his respect for his dad, not run away from him. This is going to be his own presidency, this is his own speech, but yet, this is his legacy and his roots. And I think people respect that.

SHAW: In terms of style, it seems that he took inspiration from some past (UNINTELLIGIBLE) speakers and speeches. For example, Martin Luther King, more than five times, the phrase, "Now is the time," "Now is the time."


SHAW: We heard some Bobby Kennedy in there. There was a little Nixon in there, too.

KHACHIGIAN: Right. Well, there's nothing wrong with recycling great ideas, great themes. Repetition is one of the key things in speech writing that helps drive home points. And sometimes, if you just say it once, it's not going to drive it home. But when you do it more than once -- then also, it gives the audience some participation in it and makes them anticipate the very next line.

GREENFIELD: I would argue that the most surprising part of this speech, one I must say I would not have expected necessarily at a Republican convention was this expression of empathy and sympathy for a 15-year-old juvenile felon. Have you ever heard that kind of sympathy at a Republican convention, that sentiment, I mean?

KHACHIGIAN: Well, I think he was showing he was a man of many dimensions. And I think I saw this as an effort to use an extreme example to make a point that we really do have to do a better job in this country for everyone. And so sometimes, you have to make that extreme point to get people's attention. Yes, it's a little different, I must say, but I'm not surprised by it. It was a good rhetorical tool.

SHAW: I was especially struck by a major foreign policy element in this speech. Recall that President Clinton was just in Japan at the G8 meeting at which Russia's president, Vladimir Putin, strongly lobbied the United States not to deploy a missile defense system. And this candidate for the White House says categorically, "At the earliest possible date, my administration will deploy missile defenses to guard against attack and blackmail." Very strong stuff. And Moscow, in effect, is being served notice that this is what this man will do if he's elected.

KHACHIGIAN: Clearly, I think, in a situation like this one, there's only five months left of the presidency, you want to send a signal you're going to be in charge.

WOODRUFF: We should point out that the balloons have not been dropped once. They've been dropped two, three, four, five, six, maybe 10 times. They just keep coming as does the confetti. This room -- I don't know balloon and confetti pollution, Ken Khachigian, but I think we have it here.

Ken, what about Governor Bush's delivery? I mean, I think the people around him acknowledge he is not naturally a great orator. How hard was it for him tonight to come across? I mean, was this speech so well written that almost anybody could have delivered it well? I mean, how much did he have to put of himself into it?

KHACHIGIAN: When I hear somebody edit it, when you went through 17 drafts of the speech, it didn't mean that the speech writer wrote 17 times. It meant that the principal was involved in it 17 times. Look, I think that Governor Bush showed a genuine nature for his character that there was no pretense in the speech delivered. He didn't try to be someone other than he was. But the words were very important and there was a lot of sincerity in it. And frankly, there was a lot of that nice Midland, Texas charm to it.

WOODRUFF: At one point, he even said, "I not only got my accent, I got my attitude," I think was the word, he said I got from it.

KHACHIGIAN: That's right.

GREENFIELD: One thing I thought was intriguing was he took Al Gore's favorite phrase, risky scheme...

SHAW: Right.

GREENFIELD: ... and he didn't attack it but he certainly made great sport of it: risky rocket scheme, you know, if they -- risky candle, anti-candle scheme. Do you think that's going to deprive Al Gore of that phrase that he loves so much?

KHACHIGIAN: Well, as a wordsmith, I envied those lines and I think it will be very hard for Gore in his speech, in his acceptance speech to rephrase that line. I think it's going to now be a subject of -- you can add the (UNINTELLIGIBLE) elongate it. SHAW: There was another foreign policy element that is very striking here where he invokes the Powell doctrine, "When America uses force in the world, the cause must be just, the goal must be clear, and the victory must be overwhelming."

KHACHIGIAN: Well, again, I think there's every reason for him now, given the fact that there's a chance that he'll be the next president to set the tone, and that makes your people understand that he's ready to take the office with a sense, with a philosophy, with an understand what he would need to do in foreign policy. If he left that unsaid, I think it could have left some questions in different words.

WOODRUFF: Republican Party chairman Jim Nicholson in effect adjourning this convention, adjourning what amounts to official business. Maybe we should listen to a little of this.


WOODRUFF: The balloons are...

SHAW: And following the Archbishop Vebalaqua's closing remarks here at the hall, they're going to hear from entertainer Chaka Khan. So...

GREENFIELD: We've already heard, by the way, as we did last night, from Democrats. They sent us an extensive six-page note before the speech was done. They actually did say, "Finally, there was some talk of the issues, but even then, Governor Bush failed to tell the whole story about how his plans favor the few over America's working families. They offered up only the tired old Republican formula of personal attacks, vague phrases and rehashed platitudes." We did not expect a rave, I think, Ken, from the...

WOODRUFF: Ken, is it typical, I mean, for the opposition to put out the response right away these days?

KHACHIGIAN: I think they're trying to rain on the parade and they can't do it. I mean, this is...

WOODRUFF: But is it typical?

KHACHIGIAN: Well, it's sort of typical. It's increased in the last few years, frankly. I don't remember this being done 20 years ago, for example, trying to play in the other guy's sandbox.

SHAW: Take a moment and just evaluate this speech as a speech writer.

KHACHIGIAN: Well, an acceptance speech has three audiences. There's the one in the hall, obviously, the folks in the hall that you want to energize. And then there's the -- perhaps the most important audience is the one out there, millions and millions of people who have -- many of whom have not seen Governor Bush in this kind of setting. And then finally, there's you folks up here, the media. That's another audience because of how you're going to do it. And he approached those all very skillfully. He motivated the crowd, he sent messages to the audience, and frankly, he gave you some things to play tonight and tomorrow morning.

GREENFIELD: You're another part of the audience. You went with John McCain this year as a life-long Republican because you were skeptical about George Bush's ability to reach beyond the base to independents and moderates. Now where are you now? I mean, you're an analyst here tonight but you are a life-long Republican that believes Republican whatever color it is.

KHACHIGIAN: Well, let me say that one of the things -- I thought the most important part of this election year was to rescue the presidency. That was the most important thing for me. And to the extent there was ever any question of whether or not George Bush could do it tonight, he spent a lot of time answering that question about the need to rescue the presidency, to restore the dignity and that he can do it.

SHAW: What reassures you, Ken Khachigian, in his remarks tonight that he is ready to be president?

KHACHIGIAN: I think he's thought about it a lot. That's what I -- I think before any of these words came out, he thought about what he -- he thought about the kind of presidency he wanted to have and the kind of president he wanted to be. And you heard it here. An acceptance speech is like the opening statement to a jury. And the verdict is in November. And he laid out his case. And he's going to make that case, the evidence of the case all through the fall. And he really accomplished that with this speech. He talked to his base, he talked to the uncommitted. He talked to the great center where this election will be fought, the undecided. And he hit all the right points in that process. But I think what I would interpret to be the most positive -- one of the most positive things for him is he showed a genuine sense of his own character.

SHAW: You mentioned three audiences. One of them is out in Kansas City, Missouri. Our man, Jeff Flock, is there. And when we return, we're going to go out to the heartland to hear from them.

Ken Khachigian, thanks for joining us.


SHAW: We'll be right back here in Philadelphia.


WOODRUFF: Singer Chaka Khan entertaining the delegates as they close out this Republican convention. As we listen to Chaka Khan, we want to go back to Kansas City before Governor Bush spoke tonight. Our Jeff Flock was there with some folks who were interested. We're going to hear the speech. Now let's go back to Jeff to find out what they think about it -- Jeff.

JEFF FLOCK, CNN CORRESPONDENT: We are the KAC Masterpiece Restaurant here in the heartland with Democrats, Republicans, folks on the fence. Everyone here listened to every word of George W. Bush. Somebody who maybe needed to be convinced tonight first.

Sarah Joe, what did you think?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I thought that he gave a great speech. I must give him that. If everything that George said tonight could be reality in his administration, then we'd have a pretty good America. But I had a hard time because I kept seeing a Republican in Democrat's clothing. And I worry that -- can he pull the right wing of his party into his grand plan for America? That's my big concern.

FLOCK: Well, OK, let's talk to his party. This young lady is running for Congress, Republican in Missouri.


FLOCK: What did he say tonight that resonated with you?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I thought it was a very positive speech and I was truly impressed, particularly about being nonjudgmental, about being inclusive, and about being a more compassionate party. And if, in fact, the party will follow his lead, we'll be in great shape.

FLOCK: I want to talk to somebody who needed to be convinced tonight. Sean Boiken (ph), 29-years-old, on the fence, leaning Democrat, did you hear anything tonight that pulled you in?

SEAN BOIKEN: He didn't mention affirmative action, but, however, he did talk about, you know, the gap, you know, of racism out there. They didn't mention how he was going to bridge that gap, so at this point, I still say no. I'd still be leaning more Democratic.

FLOCK: Larry Coleman (ph), an attorney here in Kansas City, you were also looking for substance tonight. What did you hear by way of substance in that speech?

LARRY COLEMAN: Well, I heard a substantial amount of substance of Governor Bush. I thought it was an excellent speech, very powerful speech. However, I suspect it may be a great disconnect during his speech and the rank and file. I wonder how does this speech resonate with Tom DeLay or John Ashcroft or other rank-and-file true Republicans.

FLOCK: You're telling me you like Bush, you maybe don't like some elements of the party, but you like Bush.

COLEMAN: I like Bush. I like what Bush said tonight. But my question is, it's not so much what you say that makes the man but what you do. And I hope that Congress will now act -- approve several hundred judges that have been backlogged.

FLOCK: Chris Bosch (ph), firefighter, Kansas City, Missouri, do you believe what he said?

CHRIS BOSCH: Well, I tell you, I thought he gave an excellent speech and he came off as being very approachable. I think that he hit the points that I was looking for him to touch on. He talked about education. He talked about across-the-board tax reduction. And he actually led us to the idea of inclusion. And I was very impressed with his speech.

FLOCK: I want to go to another Republican, soccer mom, Nelson Sweeney (ph). You liked him going in.


FLOCK: How do you feel now?

SWEENEY: I like him even more. I think he hit a home run. I was excited and encouraged that we have a Republican now leading our party that's willing to take on some bold, nontraditional Republican issues. I think he does have the ability to lead in some of those areas. I'm ready for the stereotyping of the Republican Party not being compassionate and concerned to stop.

FLOCK: I want to go back to Sean Boiken because the people in the middle are the people that obviously need to be attracted. Was there something in there that resonated with you that, as time goes on over the fall, holds the door open for you changing your position?

BOIKEN: I think as I listen to more of it, you know, maybe if I can hear something factual and know that this is real other than just someone talking to me -- I mean, really, it just seemed like he's saying what people want to hear. It's humorous, it's funny. I thought it was a great speech, but again, he's just saying what he thinks I want to hear.

FLOCK: As you go out as a candidate in the fall, and you run, hopefully if you get the nomination with Governor Bush, what do you do? Where does the campaign go? Where does it take you?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Well, certainly, hopefully, working together. He's a great leader and could be a great leader of this nation. And I'm there to follow. So I want him to take me in that direction of a compassionate party, of an inclusive party.

FLOCK: So this table liked his speech, largely liked his speech. And you want to see where it goes from here, some of you.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This is the Show Me State.

FLOCK: This is the Show Me State. Super. Thank you very much, appreciate your time tonight.

That is what they're saying, at least at first blush in the heartland. Folks, back to you in the booth.

SHAW: A very interesting first blush, Jeff. It's good to dip outside, here what other Americans are thinking, their first impressions. When we come back, we're going to go down to the floor as Chaka Khan sings about through the fire here in Philadelphia tonight.


WOODRUFF: They are wrapping up their business at this convention. Let's go right down to the floor to talk to our intrepid five, we're calling them. And let's begin with -- is it Wolf at the podium, I think. Where are you, Wolf.

BLITZER: I'm still on the podium. It's impossible to get down to the floor right now. There's still tons of people. There's no surprise about that. I will say this. Since I had an unusual vantage point standing here on the podium, I could easily see the teleprompter that was right in front of the governor. And I saw something that I had personally never seen before. Certainly all of these politicians, they read their speeches very carefully, the rehearse them. They have good coaching. This is the first time I saw numbers of various points in his speech from one to about 40 where he was expected to stop and wait for applause. The actual applause lines were clearly marked for the candidate. This was something unusual from my perspective, but it's certainly not the only thing that was scripted in this speech. It was obviously well delivered.

Let's go down to the floor now and Frank Sesno -- Frank.

SESNO: Wolf, thanks very much. Well, there's an awful lot of activity going on here, as you can imagine. Having talked to several of the delegates, if the measure of success, in part anyway, was pumping these folks up to go off and fight the good fight, Governor Bush has succeeded clearly. "He's taking my part in a new direction," said one delegate, "boldly and with great emphasis on character." That was clearly a big hit here.

Two things that stand out among the professional politicians I've talked to -- Congress, governors and those sorts who were out here -- a lot of praise for tackling the issue of Social Security. And those specifics that Jeff Greenfield was pointing out to reassure the delegates and the country that this governor was ready for primetime. Among many of the others here, great enthusiasm for the emphasis on the moral issues, the character, the integrity thing, going after the Clinton administration directly.

Over to John King.

KING: Thank you, Frank. We happen to be in a section of the floor here where they have a late confetti drop, just our luck. Often these speeches at conventions not only about the candidate laying out his ideas, also trying to inoculate himself against the expected oncoming attacks. Governor Bush certainly did that tonight talking about Social Security, Medicare, education, and also trying to give the compassionate conservatism to counter what he already knows is coming from the vice president at an event first thing tomorrow, an attack on him as someone who doesn't believe all this. We have a little balloon festival here now.

The governor's speech reflecting tonight his belief that the country has 30 Republican governors by no accident, that with a conservative but pragmatic conservatism that he can win the White House this November.

Now at hopefully a less crowded environment, over to my colleague, Candy Crowley.

CROWLEY: John, I'm also in the late balloon and confetti drop. If a sign of a good party is that people don't want to leave when it's over, they've had a good party here. Basically, a lot of people felt that the governor of Texas not know to many people nationally two to three years ago needed to make the speech of his life. Certainly, the people on this floor felt that he was up to the task. He hit all of the buttons, and in fact, looked at it from a defensive point of view, left very little to criticize. He touched on all the points that many people thought he would avoid: abortion, faith-based institutions. You know, I'm going to have to leave the substance to Jeanne Meserve. This is -- they've had a great convention -- Jeanne.

MESERVE: Candy, it's wild up here. I'm in a flurry of confetti. I have balloons. Maybe our cameraman can pan down and show you I've got balloons practically up to my waist, at this point. It's real balloon congestion up here.

A few minutes ago, there was a guy in a wheelchair trying to get out of here, and he was having trouble not only because of the people but because of the balloons that were piling up all around him. I don't know if you noticed it, but at one point, Dick Cheney, the vice presidential nominee, stepped down to pick up one of these huge balloons that is bouncing around, and he tossed it back to the rest of the people on the podium, and they were having a good time with it. It was quite a scene up there to see Chaka Kahn in a red-tasseled regalia, flanked by VFW guys in their hats, really quite a study in contrast here. But party on they will. It's coming down, and they're going to take the fight on from here and the party on from here, I'm sure.

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

SHAW: Thank you, Jeanne Meserve.


SHAW: We will be right back...

WOODRUFF: That's a lot of confetti!

SHAW: ... from Philadelphia. We've got so much to do. We're going to hear from Bill Schneider. Larry King Live is getting ready for 12:00 midnight. The party's not over yet at this convention.

Back in a moment.


WOODRUFF: When they told us there was more confetti to be dropped at this convention than at any political convention ever, we didn't believe them. When they told us there were more balloons to come down than at any political convention, we didn't believe them. Now we believe them.


WOODRUFF: We've been looking back here, and I think it finally has stopped. I've been looking up in the ceiling, guys, to see if they still have some balloons. In fact, I see some over there.

GREENFIELD: I think the biggest danger to the delegates now is paper cuts.

SHAW: Well, they said 150,000 balloons...

WOODRUFF: Chairs -- go ahead, Bernie.

SHAW: In a matter of days, they've got to clean this place out and reconfigure it. And that's one of the reasons why they've got to drop everything that's up there down.

WOODRUFF: Something Ken Khachigian -- he made a point which I hadn't thought of, before we started to interview him, about how the smallness of this arena -- it's big, but it's small by arena comparison. And he said they can actually create an effect here that would be difficult to do in a much bigger place.

SHAW: He also pointed out that they were using the lights to control and direct the applause.

Bill Schneider?


SHAW: Governor Bush seemed to be making distinctions tonight from that podium.

SCHNEIDER: That's right. The speech he gave was intended to make a distinction between politics and leadership. That was the message he wanted to convey -- "I'm leadership, Al Gore is politics" -- because he knew that "Clinton fatigue" is out there, but what it really is is politics fatigue. In fact, the whole convention seemed to ban politics! That was -- it was the most non-political political convention I've ever seen.

Look, there were no debates. There was very little ideology. There was no controversy. Politicians were virtually banned from the podium during this whole proceeding. Well, you know, leadership, Bush said, is the alternative to politics. The quote is, "They have not led. We will," meaning "I will."

Now, what we see is -- in all the polls is that people give Bush much higher marks for leadership than Gore. Why? Partly because Gore's vice president. The vice president's job is not to lead. But also look what -- look what Bush has done. And he talked about it tonight. He's proposed a bold new idea for Social Security. No Republican has dared touch that since Barry Goldwater. Missile defense plan -- people aren't sure it's going to work. A big tax cut that isn't very popular. And he made a point of saying, "I'm doing things that are not popular. Al Gore follows the polls. He changes his clothes. He's a follower, I'm a leader."

And he made fun of Gore's political response when he said over and over again, "Every proposal that I talk about -- Social Security, tax cuts, missile defense -- he calls a `risky scheme.'" Politics versus leadership. This convention highlighted that choice with a very neat trick, namely the most non-political political convention I've ever seen.

SHAW: But there was a point made by one of the well-stated points we heard from the interview that Jeff Flock has been doing tonight in Kansas City, Missouri, where one of the interviewees said, "It's not what you say, it's what you do." What about the party heavyweights, the Tom DeLays and John Ashcrofts, the conservatives, the right wing of the Republican Party?


SHAW: Will they follow this?

SCHNEIDER: Well, you know, the point of this convention was to de-Gingrich the Republican Party. That's the Gingrich wing of the party, the ones who control Congress -- DeLay, Armey. They were invisible! We saw a little bit of Trent Lott, but he's on the Senate side. The whole point was to keep those people invisible, as if they don't exist. And what the Democrats are going to try to do is say "They hid them. That's the real Republican Party. This was a show."

You know what they're calling this? "The Stepford convention."


WOODRUFF: Bill, the delegates are conservative. I mean, the delegates...


WOODRUFF: ... agree with Tom DeLay and John Ashcroft and these other...


WOODRUFF: I mean, they are...


WOODRUFF: They're the people who...

SCHNEIDER: And so does the platform.

WOODRUFF: ... came representing the Republican Party.

GREENFIELD: But the delegates...

SCHNEIDER: So does George Bush!

GREENFIELD: But the delegates -- neither these delegates nor the delegates to the Democratic convention are the ones that decide the presidency. You mentioned, in fact, while we were off the air -- we kind of nodded our heads together in part of the speech -- George Bush made the same argument Bill Clinton did eight years ago. Bush says "I have no stake in the bitter arguments of the last few years." That's an argument between Democrats and Republicans. And actually, the subtext of that was "I was on neither side of that argument. I'm somebody else," just like Clinton triangulated. I mean, that seems to me a major theme of this new leadership.

SCHNEIDER: The idea was to put it behind them, the defining events of the Republican Party for the whole decade of the '90s -- the Houston convention, where the right wing seemed to take over the party, the Gingrich revolution, which resulted in a shutdown, and impeachment, the unmentionable phenomenon. They didn't talk about any of those things.

WOODRUFF: But Bill, if he's elected president, he's going to have to work with all these people.

SCHNEIDER: Yes, he will.

WOODRUFF: I mean, Tom DeLay and Dick Armey and these other individuals who believe very strongly what they believe. This is not just a passing thing for them.

SCHNEIDER: Yes. And what they're doing...

WOODRUFF: They're not suddenly going to change their views, are they?

SCHNEIDER: No, they're not. They haven't changed their views, and that's -- the point is, they've put the burden on the Democrats to point that out, and the Democrats will. Then they're going to say, "There go the Democrats again -- bitter, harsh partisanship." They're letting them play the role of the harsh, bitter, divisive partisans by trying to say "This is all a show." I mean, if the Democrats want to do that -- and they're already sending out press releases saying "This is a sham." They're saying -- you know what George Bush will say? "There they go again."

SHAW: Bill Schneider...

GREENFIELD: Bill Schneider...

SHAW: ... thank you very much.

GREENFIELD: What's next?

SHAW: Well, what's next? The Capital Gang. They're down on the floor. They're waiting.

We'll be right back from Philadelphia. We're not done yet, not by a long shot.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK) GREENFIELD: Somewhere down on that convention floor, buried under tons of confetti, surrounded by adoring fans and the curious -- somewhere down there, I am told, is the Capital Gang.


AL HUNT, CNN "CAPITAL GANG": It's Al instead. Here we are in a sea of confetti and balloons.

Bob Novak, this must make you happy. This is your kind of convention, right? How did George W. do tonight?

ROBERT NOVAK, CNN "CAPITAL GANG": I thought he did very, very well. I thought it was an excellent speech. It touched all the Republican base values, plus a lot of vision. It was tax cuts, Social Security investment, strong defense, plus a vision for the future, a lot of idealism. Delivery -- he did as good as he could do, better than I thought. I'd give him an "A" on content, "B" on delivery.

HUNT: I'd say Bob may have gotten it right tonight.

MARGARET CARLSON, CNN "CAPITAL GANG": Yes, most improved candidate, in terms of delivering a speech. And he hit 1,000 points of light. Here's Al Gore's problem. If they're competing on rhetoric alone, George Bush wins. If they compete on specifics, Al Gore has a chance. But with this speech, George Bush has completely captured all the rhetoric of the new Democrats. And the only difference between them is how they go about these things.

HUNT: Kate, I thought what was even more important than that was he looked like he was ready. Now, there's a lot of time left, and the Democrats may have a lot of openings, but tonight he looked like he was ready.

KATE O'BEIRNE, CNN "CAPITAL GANG": I agree, Al. He looks utterly comfortable. And once (INAUDIBLE) in contrast with Al Gore, so accused of reinventing himself, is a real plus. Tonight he was plain-spoken, sincere and utterly authentic. There's a lot of Midland in George Bush.

HUNT: A lot of Midland, Mark? No Yale, but Midland?

MARK SHIELDS, CNN "CAPITAL GANG": (INAUDIBLE) The debates now are the Democrats' fall-back position. Democrats who were counting on him to stub his toe and fall on his face here at the convention in the speech had to be sorely disappointed tonight. He did better than expected. I hate to agree with Novak, but it's true. He did do better than expected.

And Al, the first third of that speech (INAUDIBLE) could have been Jack Kennedy boilerplate. I mean, he talked about the value of Medicare, using our prosperity for a purpose, these are good times and we've got to have great goals. I mean, that didn't sound -- but he did get quite specific on issues, to his credit. And it was a -- finally, it was an optimistic conservative speech.


HUNT: ... he invoked JFK. He invoked FDR.

SHIELDS: He did.

NOVAK: Wait a minute!


HUNT: There was no Calvin Coolidge. There was no Henry Hyde. There was no Newt Gingrich.

NOVAK: Whoa, whoa, whoa, whoa! Before the three of you go wild, before Margaret turns him into a new Democrat and Mark turns him into an old...


NOVAK: Just a minute! Just a minute -- turns him into an old Democrat, he was -- he was talking about using the surplus for tax cuts. He was talking about repealing the estate tax.


NOVAK: He was talking about Social Security privatization. He was talking about the conservative Republican agenda! And if he fooled you guys into thinking it was Jack Kennedy and Franklin Roosevelt, he's a hell of a politician!


HUNT: Wait just a second, Margaret. I don't think he did fool us. I also think -- and I think Mark is right, but I think he also -- there are some openings. That Texas record -- he can say "Don't mess with Texas." That may sound tough now, but that Texas record is going to provide lots of openings...

O'BEIRNE: You know what, though, Al?

HUNT: ... for the Democrats.

NOVAK: Well, that's exciting. That's exciting...

O'BEIRNE: And Al, Bob's right. He did highlight issues popular with conservatives and increasingly with the public. He talked about the culture of life and school choice and missile defense. But the speech was really about character and leadership. Tonight I think Governor Bush played to his strength. All the polls show he's favored on character and leadership. And that was really, even when it came to issues, the theme of the speech.

SHIELDS: Al, this is not a time for change in most people's (INAUDIBLE) He did make the case for change based upon character, based upon an argument that he was a better leader. But I have to say, Bob can't take "yes" for an answer. That's Bob's problem. It was a good speech, Bob, but the problem with this convention is it was a Bush convention and a Bush speech. It was not a Republican convention and a Republican...

NOVAK: Well, I -- I...

SHIELDS: I didn't hear -- I didn't hear the urgency of a Republican Congress mentioned by the nominee.

NOVAK: I -- I think...

HUNT: Mark, in four days, the term "impeachment" was never mentioned.


HUNT: Conservatives have said that Henry Hyde was going to get the greatest reception at this convention. Only...


NOVAK: Can I play, too?

HUNT: No, you may not! Henry Hyde did not speak...


HUNT: Margaret Carlson has not gotten any word -- I'd like to let Margaret say something.

CARLSON: Yes, barely. Barely. No, but he said things like, you know, we have to grow up before we grow old." His references to Clinton were rather muted, and they didn't get the hugest applause lines. What got huge applause lines was "Don't mess with Texas," it was "We shall overcome."

NOVAK: Well, he...

CARLSON: He borrowed all the rhetoric of...

NOVAK: Can I -- can I...

CARLSON: ... the great Democratic presidents.

NOVAK: We've had three of you say the same thing...

HUNT: No, no. Go ahead. Go ahead with the estate tax, Bob.


NOVAK: No, you -- you're acting silly about the estate tax, but the point of the matter is, you're trying to turn this into something that it wasn't. If that -- as a matter of fact, this was a conservative Republican speech, and the applause lines were strong on a lot of different things. They were strong on "Don't mess with Texas," "We shall overcome," and they were also strong on knocking Clinton.

(CROSSTALK) NOVAK: Now, just one other thing. The impeachment was never part of the conservative agenda coming into this convention. And the idea that, gee, they have abandoned their principles because they didn't go for impeachment is just the kind of silliness that you expect from the left-wing media!

HUNT: Oh, how Bob Novak has grown.

Kate O'Beirne?

O'BEIRNE: Those references to Clinton were not so muted that they didn't get a huge reaction.

NOVAK: Exactly.

O'BEIRNE: What he said was, "This talented member of my generation, our generation, we Baby Boomers, squandered his promise." It was a battle of the Baby Boomers going on here, Al. "How can we Baby Boomers keep faith with the greatest generation and usher in the responsibility era if we're not responsible?" Big trouble for Bill Clinton.

HUNT: But Mark Shields, look, a lot of people believe a lot of things about Bill Clinton. They don't think the Clinton-Gore administration coasted. They may not agree with it, but they don't think it was squandered opportunities. I think that leaves some vulnerabilities (INAUDIBLE)

SHIELDS: They went -- they went from being meddlesome meddlers into being couch potatoes...

HUNT: Right.

SHIELDS: ... in these four days. That was (INAUDIBLE) I have to say this about -- about the whole week, Al, that the reality was they did a great job of keeping this convention in control because -- you mention Rick Lazio's name, most people in the country don't know Rick Lazio. This place went through the roof. Why? Because they hate Hillary Clinton. Every reference to Clinton did get a big -- even elliptical ones, and so did the religious and cultural values, and so did tax cuts. Just a conservative crowd.

NOVAK: And so did -- so did...

SHIELDS: Listen...

NOVAK: Just a minute. And so did the reference to the unborn.

HUNT: And so...


HUNT: Bob Novak, Margaret Carlson, Kate O'Beirne and Mark Shields, I want to thank you. Here we are on the convention floor. We will be here in about another 10 days from Los Angeles, not here but in L.A. This is Al Hunt for The Capital Gang on the convention floor in Philadelphia after four days, saying good-bye.

SHAW: And applause...

HUNT: Judy...

SHAW: ... to all of you. Look at them down there!

And when we return, some final thoughts and our own special way for closing our coverage of this 37th Republican convention. Back in a moment.


SHAW: They are looking for souvenirs, anything they can find in this hall to take home from this 37th Republican convention.

Well, you've been with us from the snows of Iowa and New Hampshire through the end of the primary season into this Republican convention here in Philadelphia, out to Los Angeles next week for the opening of the Democrats' convention, into the October fall presidential and the one vice presidential debate, and then, of course, November 7th, when the American people will cast their ballots to make their ultimate decision to determine who will be the 43rd president of the United States.

It seems to me that there's reason to have pride in being an American and to be thankful for the system of government that rules this great land.


WOODRUFF: And Bernie, about these past four days, I would just say, at the end of a convention so heavy on entertainment, so heavy on moderation that at times we could confuse it with either a Broadway review or a Democratic convention, Governor George W. Bush gave a very effective acceptance speech tonight. And I would just close here by quoting one of the undecided voters that Jeff Flock talked to in Kansas City. He said, "I like what he said, but I'm going to have to wait to find out what he's going to do."


GREENFIELD: And when the Democrats convene a week from Monday in Los Angeles, what they intend to do, it's already clear from what they've been sending us, is to describe this entire convention, in their terms, as a "masquerade ball." Their argument is, beneath the veneer of "compassionate conservatism" lurks a traditional Republican who favors the few over the many. That is the task of the Democratic Party, as well as the task of turning a vice president into a leader in his own right. And a week from...

Now, this Republican national convention is over, and these four days, we think, can be best summed up by one of the best in the business. Bruce Morton of CNN takes a lingering, lovely closing look at the Grand Old Party's Philadelphia convention.


BRUCE MORTON, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): They met in the city where rebels vowed to from a more perfect union. What is the message from this convention? One part was back to the past, the good and honorable past.

LAURA BUSH, WIFE OF GEORGE W. BUSH: George and I always read to our girls Dr. Seuss's "Hop on Pop" was one of his favorites. George would lie on the floor to read the story, and the girls would literally hop on pop, turning the story into a contact sport. We wanted to teach our children what our parents had taught us, that reading is entertaining and interesting and important.

MORTON: And if that happened to remind you of a recent first lady who had also made literacy her cause, well, that was OK. And part of what went on here was a party. People danced. And there were time-honored rituals, like bragging on your state when it's time to cast its vote.

SEN. RICHARD SHELBY, ALABAMA DELEGATION: Are they ready? Alabama, a leader in biotechnology, aerospace, software development, agriculture and forestry...

MORTON: It's OK. They voted for Bush. Other traditions: People wore funny hats. Republicans do hats well, for some reason. And this time there were Texas hats, of course, red-white-and-blue hats, elephant hats, and even Texas elephant hats. But if this party had an official theme, it was inclusion, what Republican strategist Lee Atwater used to call the "big tent," all viewpoints welcome. So delegates could sway as the late Kate Smith on video sang "God Bless America."

KATE SMITH (singing): ... from the mountains to the prairies to the oceans white with foam, God bless America, my home sweet home...

MORTON: But they could enjoy a Gospel choir, too. What George W. Bush clearly didn't want was the kind of angry "us versus them" speech Pat Buchanan delivered at President Bush's renomination convention in 1992.

PAT BUCHANAN (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: There is a religious war going on in this country. It is a cultural war as critical to the kind of nation we shall be as the cold war itself, for this war is for the soul of America.

MORTON: This year's program bristled with inclusiveness -- a native American here, a Rabbi there, and so on. Featured speakers underscored the theme. Condoleezza Rice talking about her grandfather's fight for an education.

CONDOLEEZZA RICE, BUSH FOREIGN POLICY ADVISER: He was told about little Stillman College, a school about 50 miles away. So Granddaddy saved up his cotton for tuition, and he went off to Tuscaloosa. After the first year, he ran out of cotton, and he needed a way to pay fro college. Praise be, as he often does, God gave him an answer. My grandfather asked how those other boys were staying in school, and he was told that they had what was called a scholarship. And they said if you wanted to be a Presbyterian minister, then you could have one, too. Granddaddy Rice said, "That's just what I had in mind."

MORTON: And sometimes the message of inclusion was toughly put. Colin Powell.

RETIRED GEN. COLIN POWELL, FORMER CHAIRMAN, JOINT CHIEF OF STAFFS: We must understand the cynicism that exists in the black community, the kind of cynicism that is created when, for example, some in our party miss no opportunity to roundly and loudly condemn Affirmative Action that helped a few thousand black kids get an education, but you hardly hear a whimper when it's Affirmative Action for lobbyists who load our federal tax code with preferences for special interests. It doesn't work! It doesn't work. You can't make that case.

MORTON: But inclusion is not universal here. On Powell's Affirmative Action, the GOP platform says, "We will attain equal opportunity without quotas or other forms of preferential treatment." The platform would ban all abortions, going further than Bush. It opposes sex education in schools, except for teaching abstinence. And it opposes laws protecting homosexuals from discrimination. When openly gay Congressman Jim Kolbe spoke on international trade, some delegates bowed their heads in a silent protest against letting him speak.

And for all the black faces on the podium, how inclusive was this convention? The Joint Center for Political Studies, a Washington think tank, says 4.1 percent of the delegates here were black, up from 1996, but about the same as in 1992, when Pat Buchanan made that "cultural war" speech.

The delegates have heard George Bush's message.

SEN. JOHN MCCAIN (R), ARIZONA: He wants nothing to divide us into separate nations -- not our color, not our race, not our wealth, not our religion, not our politics. He wants us to live for America as one nation and together profess the American creed of self-evident truths.

MORTON: And they've sent one other message out this week. They want to win.

DICK CHENEY (R), VICE PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Bill Clinton vowed not long ago to hold onto power until the last hour of the last day. That is his right. But my friends, that last hour is coming. That last day is near. The wheel has turned, and it is time, it is time for them to go.

MORTON: Inclusion -- they heard it again tonight from their nominee.

GEORGE W. BUSH: We are now the party of ideas and innovation, the party of idealism and inclusion, the party of a simple and powerful hope. My fellow citizens, we can begin again. MORTON: How many believe it? How unified is the party? They are, as Lee Greenwood sings, proud to be Americans, but they may among them see many different Americas, see different Republican Parties. So the question is, which message, which party will the country see now that the party's over?

Bruce Morton, CNN, Philadelphia.


SHAW: Well, it's not good-bye, it's farewell temporarily because we'll be seeing you next week from Los Angeles. I'm Bernard Shaw.

WOODRUFF: I'm Judy Woodruff. We've loved every minute of it.

GREENFIELD: I'm Jeff Greenfield. And Larry King, a fresh edition, coming right your way. See you in L.A.



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