Republican National Convention
Monday, July 31, 2000

GOP confident: 'W is for Winner'




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        PHILADELPHIA — Delegates from Ohio and all points East and West found one campaign button here Sunday they seemed to like the best.

        A simple blue button, and you could have one to call your own if you put a $1 bill in the pocket of button entrepreneur Joe Parry.

        “W is for Winner,” it said.

        That, said Mr. Parry, was the best-selling button at his stall in the giant vendor's area at the Pennsylvania Convention Center, followed closely by his “I Miss President Reagan” number.

        If the 4,000-plus delegates and alternates who began pouring into town this weekend for the Republican National Convention really do miss Ronald Reagan — and you know they do — they think they have the next best thing in George W. Bush.

        They have wandered in the wilderness of American politics for eight years now, and for the first time since they went to Dallas in the summer of 1984 to renominate Mr. Reagan, they feel like they have a winner.

        Early Sunday afternoon, in the Ohio headquarters hotel across the street from Philadelphia's grand old city hall, the Ohio delegation streamed into the restaurant for their first gathering of the convention, a sumptuous brunch whose host was state auditor Jim Petro.

        Mr. Petro's aides passed out tiny key-chain calculators to the Ohioans as gifts, but they didn't need them to calculate their chances of winning back the White House this fall.

        The polls look good, and the opposition can't seem to get its act together. Life, the Ohio Republicans here will tell you, is good.

        Eight years ago, when they gathered in Houston, the Ohioans arrived grumpy and stayed grumpy. They knew their candidate, George Bush the Elder, was in, as the former president might put it, “deep doo-doo.”

        Four years ago, they trudged off to San Diego, where Bob Dole had told the American people to vote for him because “you've got to vote for somebody.”

        But as Ohioans gather for their week of drifting in and out of floor sessions, hopping shuttle buses and seeing how many toothpicks they can accumulate in their pockets from a nonstop schedule of cocktail parties, they can do it without going home thinking that all they did was blow the family vacation money.

        Email hwilkinson@enquirer.com

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