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Bush/Cheney Depart Philadelphia

Aired August 4, 2000 - 10:30 a.m. ET


BILL HEMMER, CNN ANCHOR: Here we are back live again in Philadelphia where a number of folks have turned out today. I'm not quite sure what that is right there. But maybe we'll get a description from Patty Davis live in just a bit here.

George W. Bush there will be there as he departs Philadelphia this morning. That departure coming up in a short time here, getting out of town, of course. He accepted the Republican presidential nomination last night, in his speech here, accusing President Clinton and the vice president, Al Gore, of squandering their opportunities to solve the nation's problems.

This was the Texas governor as he appeared, a quick portion now from last night's speech.


GOV. GEORGE W. BUSH (R-TX), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: 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.


HEMMER: And Bush repeated that line four times in total, last night, driving home that point. The Gore campaign calls Bush's speech, quote, "short on substance." A spokesman said, quote, and we're quoting now,: "Because Governor Bush does not want to talk want to talk about his record in Texas, or his running mate's record in Congress -- he offered up only the tired old Republican formula of personal attacks, vague phrases and rehashed platitudes." That from the Gore campaign.

With us now again, Bill Schneider and Charlie Cook here live in Philadelphia. Let's shake it down one more time as we head up into that campaign trail. What was that that we were seeing by the way?

WILLIAM SCHNEIDER, CNN SR. POLITICAL ANALYST: Ah, I'm up on my Philadelphian. That was a "mummer" (ph). Every New Year's Day, freezing here in Philadelphia, they have the mummer's parade, and they march down the street in feathered finery and they sing: "Oh, them golden slippers." Used to do it in blackface. HEMMER: Is that right?

SCHNEIDER: They don't do it anymore.

HEMMER: Nothing to do with Mother's Day, though, because that was started years ago.

SCHNEIDER: That's a mummer, it's an old Welsh tradition.

HEMMER: You got it. Let's talk about the campaign trail. What bread crumbs should we start following here on this path, Charlie?

CHARLES COOK, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: Well, if you look at where Governor Bush is going after this, Pennsylvania, Ohio, Michigan, he's going through the -- basically the heartland industrial states that are usually the backbone of any electoral college contest, just as he did in the bus trip coming up her from Arkansas.

SCHNEIDER: And most of those states right now are tilting, but very slightly to Governor Bush. So they are going to be very closely fought.

HEMMER: Let's talk about the speech last night here while we have a moment. And let's talk about what themes we expect to see coming out of it. Social Security was a big deal last night, the military, as expected, tax relief and certainly education, Bill?

SCHNEIDER: Didn't talk an awful lot about international policy, that was the theme of one of the nights of this convention. He seemed to want to make a point that he would reassure Americans he has a team onboard, mostly from his father's administration, that could handle world affairs. But otherwise, Social Security, taxes, that's going to be his big emphasis.

COOK: Bush campaign strategists say that, you know, they do polls and all this. And so most of time when they get a strong reaction from a speech, they're not surprised. But they've said out on the campaign trail, the two issues that have surprised them the most, in terms of really resonating with voters, that they didn't anticipate, was military readiness, and the second was changing the tone of Washington, the way things are played -- the partisanship and the infighting and backbiting and finger-pointing, that those are the two things that people react to the most strongly. And I think you saw that in this speech.

SCHNEIDER: And education, my God, if he shows up in one more classroom, I mean, every class -- every time he shows up he's with a bunch of students.

COOK: Leave no classroom behind.

SCHNEIDER: That's right, and there's something interesting about that, it's never been a federal issue, at least since the launching of Sputnik in the 1950s. Because 90 percent of education funding comes from localities, essentially property taxes. But now it's federal issue, it's an interesting thing. HEMMER: and supporters of Bush back in Texas will tell you he's been in classrooms for years now.

SCHNEIDER: That's right.

COOK: Well, what's interesting about this is that it's a complete change from where Republicans would be going on education before. You know fundamentally, Republicans believe it's a state, local, responsibility and not a federal responsibility as Bill suggested. And they would do charter schools and vouchers and tuition tax credits, which a lot of voters saw just sort of nibbling around the edges.

Bush just sort of dropped all that and is really pushing forward. And he's not saying there should be a national school board or anything, but I think he's neutralized what has been a very strong Democratic advantage.

SCHNEIDER: That's right, he talked about public schools. Republicans are not too happy with public schools.

HEMMER: In the other quote he had about education last night, quote: "Local people should control local schools." So, going along with that same line.

SCHNEIDER: That's the Republican doctrine on schooling. But he talked seriously about improving the public schools. I think what's driving him is the economy, the new economy. People are worried that their kids won't know enough to compete in this rapidly changing economy.

HEMMER: Patty Davis, now, with us back at the airport.

Patty, let's check in there, has the governor shown up yet?

PATTY DAVIS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: George W. Bush's motorcade is just arriving at the airport. He's going to be motoring past his red, white and blue 737, the newly painted Bush/Cheney plane, which he'll travel around in the country in.

George W. Bush being greeted here by several hundred, possibly as much as 500, 600 people. Among the people greeting him, Governor Ridge of Pennsylvania, Governor Christie Todd Whitman of New Jersey, all important people in his campaign.

Also mummers in the audience, there's an Irish band. And the audience, I'm told, is made up of delegates who were on the floor last night, heard his rousing speech and are here to wish him well. He is going to get a major send-off here at the Philadelphia airport. Red, white, and blue bunting, red, white and blue, flags, banners, Uncle Sams, balloons waving here, all waiting for his arrival -- Bill.

HEMMER: Patty, as we continue to wait for this, the mummers after your own heart, Bill Schneider.

SCHNEIDER: Oh, those mummers. HEMMER: Listen, Patty, do we expect any comments? is there a podium set up? a microphone? anything?

DAVIS: Yes, we do expect comments. He is to shake hands, as well as head to the podium, where he will thank the delegates here for supporting him. And we do expect to hear from him shortly.

HEMMER: One of the better lines last evening during his speech came toward the top, when he talked about the city of Philadelphia, thanking them for hosting the convention and saying it's the former home of people like Ben Franklin and Thomas Jefferson and George Washington, otherwise known as George W. Huge applause line for that last evening.

Patty, when he came in town the other day, you said just a couple hundred people gathered out there. It appears that right now that crowd is larger and possibly more invigorated, true or not?

DAVIS: That's true, well, but they're out on the tarmac, they were kind of kept against the airport building when he was arriving. They're out now surrounding him instead. So it's more of a cozy atmosphere here and just like there's probably about double the amount of people who were here the other day. He has just worked his way on into the crowd there, with his wife Laura standing at his side. Dick Cheney, and his wife Lynne, right behind him.

You can see the Secret Service surrounding him as well. Governor Ridge is leading the way, from Pennsylvania, and up to the podium where we do expect some words from George W. Bush.

We will continue to hear from Laura Bush certainly throughout this campaign. How do you think that she did here? She raised her profile certainly. How was she received

SCHNEIDER: I think she was received very well, and you know, she is a former librarian and a teacher. And she certainly made the most of that. She devoted her speech to the education issue. Remember her best line is when she said, Al Gore stays with teachers during the campaign but George Bush comes home to a teacher every night.

HEMMER: We're going to get comments here shortly so we will certainly stick with this picture here and hear the comments from Governor Bush shortly here.

Earlier today, the governor was in downtown Pennsylvania -- or Philadelphia, rather, this morning, talking about, at a prayer breakfast this morning there, talking about his admiration for Dick Cheney, among other things. And we will see these folks together for the next three months as he stated earlier, three months and three days today from today from today as Governor Ridge talks there.

SCHNEIDER: Dick Cheney was very impressive in a way because, you know, he's never really campaigned outside of Wyoming. He was a congressman, the one and only congressman from Wyoming, And so all he had to do was campaign in that rather small state. This is his first thrust onto a national campaign stage and I thought he did pretty impressively.

COOK: You know there was a fork in the road from Cheney this week: that he was either going to be perceived as a solid, steady, experienced, Washington hand; or as a sort of an ideological relic of the 1980s. And I agree with Bill, I think he handled himself very well and left some pretty good impressions with people.

HEMMER: What do you make of the quote that Governor Bush said last night toward the end? "At times we lost our way, but we are coming home."

COOK: You know, you look at polling data, and it shows that despite the fact that the economy is doing so well, the right direction, wrong track, when you're asked do you think if the country is headed in the right direction or off on the wrong track? people are very pessimist, or not very pessimist, but surprisingly cautious or pessimistic about -- given the state of the economy.

SCHNEIDER: He was talk about his generation, the baby boom generation, his and Bill Clinton's generation, they are almost the same age. And what he was saying was our generation, you know, we made a lot of changes in the country's civil rights, ending the war in Vietnam, went to some excesses, sex, drugs and rock 'n' roll.

He, himself, of course, acknowledges that he had, when he said when I was young and irresponsible, I was young and irresponsible. I think that is what he meant. Our generation has lost its way, but now we are coming home to family values, responsibilities.

HEMMER: And we knew coming into this convention, it was at least sold anyway, as it was not going to be a convention that dwelled on negativity. Al Gore and Bill Clinton certainly were mentioned last night. There are many references, not only last night, but certainly through Dick Cheney and other speakers throughout the week. But did you think necessarily that speech last night had a tone of negativity or not, Charlie?

COOK: Well, compared to the previous nights, sure. But you know, by comparing it to, you know, this is a my 11th convention. This was the most passive convention I have ever been to. This was not only vegetarian, but pureed.

HEMMER: Somebody called it "fluffy" this morning on our air, one of the folks we were talking to on the street there. Fluffy indeed or not?

SCHNEIDER: Indeed it was, and they wanted to make a point. This was, in my view, the most non-political political convention I have ever seen. It was almost anti-political. The idea was, these are real people, they are not politicians. We are supposed to believe very few politicians on the stage, no ideology, no debates, no controversy over platforms, rules, nothing. It was a show. The whole point of it was to make a statement. We are not politician -- well of course they are politicians, but they are trying to say, Al Gore, Bill Clinton, politicians, we are different.

Here is Dick Cheney at the microphone.

DICK CHENEY (R), VICE PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: We've had a fantastic time here this week. It really -- I've been to eight conventions, and as I explained, I liked the outcome of this one better than any of the others I've ever been to.


But we're embarked now on a great crusade. And we're going to start here this morning, today, and take this campaign all across the country. And we are going to win in November.


You know, this is going to be an extraordinarily important election. What's at stake this year is the first national campaign, presidential campaign, of the 21st century. I think it's going to be the most important election in at least 50 years. And I can't think of anything, any mission, more important for a political party or for our candidate than the mission of restoring honor and dignity to the Oval Office.


Governor Bush and I are also absolutely determined that it will restore a tone of civility and decency to the debate in Washington to take the kind of leadership that the governor has provided in Texas to the national level and address the basic major fundamental problems of the day.

I think the acceptance speech we heard last night from our candidate has to be one of the all-time finest ever given by a presidential candidate.


And it is my good fortune and great honor to have the responsibility for the next several weeks to introduce to you and to the American people the next president of the United States, the Honorable George W. Bush.

GOV. GEORGE W. BUSH (R-TX), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Thank you all very much. We are sure glad we came to Philadelphia. It's been a fantastic experience for Laura and me.

The convention started off pretty well I thought Monday night with one of the great speeches of all time by my wife.


I was really proud of her, I was really proud of her. America got to see, if, in fact, you can judge the nature of a man by the company he keeps, I keep pretty darn good company.

(APPLAUSE) I was so pleased to see Dick Cheney have a chance to speak from his heart, talk about his leadership, talk about his -- and I think people got to see what I know. This is a strong man, it's a steady man, it's a man who has brought nobility to the public service, it's a man who is my friend and who is going to be great vice president of the United States.


So we leave this City of Brotherly Love energized and united and focused on victory. This is a message of ours that we started laying out for the American people to see, that should Dick and I be fortunate to earn the will of the people, we'll be the president and vice president of every citizen, not just a few.

And our job is to bring -- is to restore confidence to America, to lift this nation's spirit, to call upon the best of our citizenry.

We believe we can do it. We're optimistic people. We believe the great strength of America lies in the hearts and souls of our decent, compassionate, loving citizenry.

One of the best things about campaigning is not only going out and asking for the vote, but it's to see the true strength of our country, it's to be able to look our fellow citizens in the eyes and realize that our job will be to unite, realize our job is to call upon the best, realize our job will be to appeal to the better angels of Americans, not our darker impulses.

So as we leave this convention, excited about our chances, united for the cause, I want to say once again: I appreciate the honor to be carrying the banner for the Republican Party.

I want to say once again: America give us a chance, give us a chance to restore honor to the White House.

So as we head out, thank you all from the bottom of our hearts. You did a fantastic job. Work hard, we'll be working with you. Pennsylvania will be Bush-Cheney country.



God bless you all. God bless Pennsylvania. And God bless the greatest land on this Earth, America.

Thank you very much.

HEMMER: And with that, they are off for what is sure to be a grueling three months leading up to November 7th, when the rest of America will go to the polls and choose their next president for the next four years.

Quickly to Patty Davis there, out at the airport again -- Patty. DAVIS: You can see George Bush talking with a mummer, a famous Philadelphia institution, starting to dance there. That is the mummer, not George W. Bush.

He is going to heading out into the crowd now to greet as many people as he can, and thank them personally for supporting him here in Philadelphia. His campaign spokesperson tells us that he believes this is one of the best conventions ever -- Bill.

HEMMER: We heard the work "dignity" from the mouth of Dick Cheney there. We heard the word "honor" from George Bush. If we go beneath the surface here, guys. It is quite clear that Democrats would like to focus this entire election on the issues themselves. They think they can win on that. Republicans, beneath the surface, would only like to focus on character -- well, only is a bit of an overstatement, but they would like to focus more on character and integrity, and that is directed straight at the White House right now.

COOK: I think, you know, with the economy as strong as it is, people are fairly contended policywise. Clinton steered a pretty moderate course the last six years, since '94, Republicans in Congress have kept him in check.

What they don't like is the style, what has gone on in Washington. They are just so tired of that, and that is what Bush is trying to play up on that he doesn't represent too much change, but that Al Gore doesn't represent enough change.

SCHNEIDER: They want -- the public wants a change of leadership, not a change of direction. It's not like 1980, after one term of Jimmy Carter; and 1992, after one term of George Bush's father, when people were really eager to just change everything in the country because they were unhappy with the economy, hostage crisis, all kinds of things were going wrong.

Look, we are finding record numbers of people things are just great in the country. The best economy of our lifetime. Why do they want change? They would like to see some new faces and a different style of leader. That is why Bush has been careful to reassure them, that if he is elected, he won't take things in a radical new direction. Unlike what Bill Clinton promised in '92 and what Ronald Reagan promised in 1980.

HEMMER: On that same note, you know, that surplus is going to be such a huge issue that will be circled over the next several months too.

Interesting note came down on CNN last night. Apparently John McCain have invited, he and his wife Cindy, have invited the Bushes to stay at their ranch in Sedona, Arizona next weekend. They are going to go there apparently, this prior to the Democrats firing off in L.A. -- Charlie.

COOK: Well, there was a time when you would wonder whether president -- Governor Bush was going to bring a food taster to something like that, relations were not good there. But I think people want to see them get along, or Republicans want to see them get along.

HEMMER: Do you think it's legitimate? or do you think they are faking it right now?

COOK: I think that, if there were no election coming up, I doubt that Governor Bush would be going down to visit the McCains in Arizona.

SCHNEIDER: McCain has been the biggest story of this campaign, the biggest popular sensation, and he became -- hit on the theme that defines this election: straight talk. That was the name of his bus, "The Straight Talk Express." That is why people like him. After Clinton, people are saying what we need is some straight talk.

Look, what is Al Gore famous for? "No controlling legal authority," let Elian stay in the U.S., he invented the Internet. That's not straight talk. And Clinton, too, has that problem.

COOK: And I think, in his speech the other day, I think -- the other night -- I think John McCain did a nice job of sort of bonding with Republican regulars. I mean, he had done so much better in the primaries with independent voters, that at least pretending to be a team player. I think that went a long way with some of these regulars who really thought he was an interloper earlier on.

SCHNEIDER: And Bush used a phrase that caught my attention in his speech last night. He said, we will become the party of reform. I never heard him say that. The party of reform is what John McCain always said the Republican Party had to be. He said we can't win if we're just the conservative party, we have to become the party of reform. Well, Bush said last night that he is adopting McCain's ideas.

HEMMER: What are the images...

SCHNEIDER: That doesn't mean he's for campaign finance reform now, does it?

HEMMER: Right, which was absent this week -- that particular phrase.

SCHNEIDER: Nobody talked about that, even McCain.

HEMMER: And as we see the images here from the airport, what are the images we will take away from this convention? Not necessarily us sitting here in Philadelphia, because, indeed, we're quite close to the story, but how about viewers and voters out there who were tuned in?

COOK: I think the greatest balloon drop in the history of American political conventions. What is that, 150,000 balloons?

HEMMER: Hundred and fifty-thousand to be exact.

COOK: That was unbelievable.

HEMMER: In fact, Charlie, they're still coming down today.

SCHNEIDER: Oh, I think a lot of people will remember The Rock, Bo Derek. I mean, what were they doing here? That was to make the point that this really wasn't a political -- or at least it wasn't about politics. It was certainly a political convention, but it wasn't a -- it didn't seem to be about politics, it was a show.

COOK: In a real stark contrast, deliberately so, with the period of 1995, 1996 when Republicans, particularly in the House of Representatives, got carried away rhetorically and substantively, they're really, really trying to create an image of a new Republican Party, kind of like Tony Blair and New Labor.

HEMMER: Yes, you got it.

Governor Bush, as he continues to work through the crowd, one more time out to Patty Davis.

Patty, before you get on that plane, one final comment here, huh?

DAVIS: George W. Bush is now heading out on what his campaign is calling a "change of tone" tour. And what they mean by that is he wants to change the tone in Washington. As you were saying, people -- he wants to portray -- take advantage of people who are sick and tired of division in Washington. So he will be playing on his themes from his convention speech.

He's heading out here by plane, but he'll head into Pittsburgh, get on a train and do sort of a whistle-stop tour through the Midwest, those key battleground states, Pennsylvania, Ohio, Michigan, Illinois, making stops in small towns all across the way, hoping, really, to build on the momentum here that the convention has launched and hoping that he can do well with voters in the nation's heartland, Bill.

HEMMER: Patty, the stumps that Governor Bush was on before coming to Philadelphia, the reports we were getting back here and through folks like yourself is that reporters have always been kept somewhat away and distant from the governor. At what point will that change?

DAVIS: I would think that he needs the press, he needs to get his message out as much as he possibly can. And, actually, I would beg to differ with that. He's actually been kept pretty close to the press. Almost every stop, at least in the primary season, he was giving press conferences. That's kind of changing, actually, now that he's going on into the general election season. He's a little bit more inaccessible to the press, at least on the record. But...

HEMMER: OK, a fair clarification, Patty, certainly.

Back with our two guys here in the booth. Patty just mentioned Akron, Ohio. That's an area of Ohio, in northeastern Ohio, that has been dead-on when it comes to predicting the outcome for presidential elections.

COOK: Yes, I mean, Ohio, you can't -- it's -- a Republican absolutely has to get Ohio to win and a Democrat needs it pretty badly. I mean, if you were going to say, what are, year in, year out, the four or five most important states, and Ohio, Illinois, Michigan, Pennsylvania, New Jersey, they're the big five. I mean, there are some other states, though, that are in play -- Washington, Oregon, Wisconsin -- and those are states that aren't normally quite as swing as they are in this election.

SCHNEIDER: Yes. Now, what's interesting about those state is, I believe -- you might be able to correct me -- but I believe all of them went for Clinton twice. Is that right?

COOK: I think that's right.

SCHNEIDER: Ohio did, Michigan, Pennsylvania, New Jersey, Illinois, and they all have Republican governors. Pennsylvania has two Republican senators and a Republican legislature. So they are really swing states.

HEMMER: There it is from above, the newly painted 727, "Bush- Cheney" on top. We'll be seeing a lot of that as well.

Governor Bush should be flying out of here shortly. We'll keep an eye on that, and for now let's go back to Atlanta. Here's my partner, Daryn Kagan.

Daryn, back to you.

SCHNEIDER: Where is that plane?

HEMMER: OK, we're not going back to Atlanta. My mistake.

Daryn, are you there?


HEMMER: OK, listen, we...

KAGAN: And with that -- sorry, didn't mean to cut you off. I think I can hear you, Bill, but what we're going to do is we're going to take a break, regroup, and we'll be back right after this.


HEMMER: Back here live once again in Philadelphia as the Texas governor and his running mate, Dick Cheney, along with their wives, now boarding a 727. They're going to head out first to Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, then Newcastle in the western half of Pennsylvania. From there, Akron, Ohio, and then through the Buckeye State up to Michigan, Illinois. We heard earlier in the week they're also going to make a stop in California sometime next week. So we will track that as well.

The new image of the Republican Party, guys -- back here with Charlie Cook and Bill Schneider in our studio here, high above the floor of the Comcast First Union Center -- the new image itself, it was packaged, it was put out this past week. What's it mean and will it stick, Bill?

SCHNEIDER: Democrats are saying they don't think it means a great deal. They're saying this was the Stepford Convention with all the delegates sort of putting on a show, because....

HEMMER: They called it a masquerade ball, I believe, Bill.

SCHNEIDER: ... yes, because, look, you know, the platform has still a lot of very hard-line, right-wing positions on issues like abortion and gay rights and taxes. And they're saying that, you know, George Bush hasn't really moved to the center in his views.

But there is a shift, and I find it interesting. And I'm not sure I would say this is a sham. What they're saying, what Bush is saying is, I endorse conservative positions, but I embrace our adversaries. He endorses the hard-line position against the hate crimes bill and against gay marriage, but he welcomes gay people. He has a platform that takes a hard line on abortion rights, but yet he welcomes supporters of abortion rights into the party and into the convention. They oppose Affirmative Action, but they welcome Colin Powell.

I wouldn't say that's a sham. I wouldn't say it's moving sharply to the center, but it's a real shift from the Republican Party in the 1990s.

HEMMER: Charlie.

COOK: But this is very much what Democrats did after their 1994 disaster as well. They made a big shift to the center. You know, you could question, maybe, their sincerity, but they realized that if they stayed where they were, they were going to continue to lose elections. They had to move towards the center, and they did the same thing. So, you know, they're either both shams or neither are shams, but, you know, it's the same thing, really.

HEMMER: Al Gore was watching last night in North Carolina, we are told anyway. We'll find out what he was thinking. We'll talk about the Democrats and a lot more in L.A. 10 days away from now, OK guys?

SCHNEIDER: Sure will.



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