Republican National Convention
Thursday, August 03, 2000

Delegates like ticket's balance

By Howard Wilkinson and Patrick Crowley
The Cincinnati Enquirer

        PHILADELPHIA — There are many Republican leaders who believe that the pairing of George W. Bush and Dick Cheney will lead to a division of labor on the campaign trail this fall.

        Mr. Cheney — the stolid, experienced white-haired Washington insider who looks older than his 59 years — might reassure the conservative voters who might have some unspoken but lingering doubts about Mr. Bush's ability to be a world leader.

        The energetic Texas governor, looking younger than his 54 years, can concentrate on taking his message of “compassionate conservatism” to the young, minority voters and suburban voters who went from being Ronald Reagan conservatives to Bill Clinton centrists.

        With that kind of ticket, leaders in the Ohio and Kentucky delegations here say, they can end the GOP exile from the White House.

        “You never take your base for granted in a tough campaign,” said Ohio Secretary of State J. Kenneth Blackwell, who delivered one of the seconding speeches for Mr. Cheney Wednesday night at the Republican National Convention.

        “One of the first things we have to do is make sure our core of Republicans voters is comfortable with the ticket and ready to go to the polls.”

        Republican presidential candidates win by drawing independents and conservative Democrats, as Ronald Reagan did in the 1980s.

        Mr. Bush wants to re-create that Reagan coalition, which has led to a four-day convention full of finely crafted pitches to minority voters, parents of young children and the independent-minded voters who made John McCain a force in the primaries.

        “Having Cheney on the ticket sends a message to strong Republicans and conservatives that Bush, too, is a conservative and will govern accordingly,” said U.S. Rep. Steve Chabot, R-Ohio.

        Mr. Chabot, a hard-line conservative who has won congressional elections in what is seen as a centrist district, said conservative voters are also interested in maintaining a strong national defense. Picking a former defense secretary who helped lead the U.S. through the Persian Gulf War “will reassure Americans,” Mr. Chabot said.

        “There are some people who look at Governor Bush and see someone who does not have a lot of foreign policy experience, but he has turned to someone who does to join the ticket,” Mr. Chabot said. “That shows good sense to me.”

        John Schickel, the Boone County jailer and a delegate, said Mr. Cheney will help voters gain confidence with the GOP ticket because he has experience in some areas that Mr. Bush lacks.

        “Something he brings to Northern Kentucky Republicans is the fact he is right on all the conservative issues that many of us hold so dear, and he voted as a conservative while in Congress. That shores up the Republican base.”

        In the Kentucky delegation, many GOP leaders, including state GOP Vice Chairman Damon Thayer of Scott County, were early advocates of Mr. Cheney.

        “It's obviously not a traditional, "I need you to help carry my state' pick,” Mr. Thayer said.

        For Democrats, part of the strategy is to criticize some of Mr. Cheney's votes while in Congress. Among those are votes against the Head Start program for pre-schoolers and a 1986 resolution calling for the release of South African leader Nelson Mandela.

        Alternate delegate Hayes Robertson of Covington, a Northern Kentucky GOP campaign consultant, said he does not believe the criticism will hurt the Republican ticket in November.

        “We can go back and look at all of Al Gore's votes,” Mr. Robertson said. “He switched back and forth on issues, even on abortion. When you look at how a congressman voted, you don't know what all was in that particular legislative package.”

        The hope of the Bush campaign, Ohio Gov. Bob Taft said, is that the Cheney selection “will so impress Republican voters that it will build enthusiasm for the ticket. And if we are to win, we are going to have to have a big Republican turnout, and enthusiasm about the ticket creates that.”

        To generate that enthusiasm, Mr. Bush and Mr. Cheney will launch a train trip immediately upon the conclusion of the convention. The trip will include a stop Friday in Akron.

Back to convention page

- Delegates like ticket's balance
WILKINSON: Blackwell part of attempt to 'reach out'
PULFER: Brushes with the GOP A-list
CROWLEY: GOP's traits remain the same
Ky. delegation gets marching orders
Bush to stay low-key on foreign policy
Convention Notebook
No beating the Bushes for support
Nader appeals for young voters
Tensions ease between police and protesters