Republican National Convention
Friday, August 04, 2000

Tough fight lies ahead

Divisive issues unspoken

By Howard Wilkinson and Patrick Crowley
The Cincinnati Enquirer

        PHILADELPHIA — The good news for the thousands of Republicans who will fan out across the country from here today is that, for the first time in many years, they have had a positive, upbeat convention.

        The bad news for them is that the Democrats get to have a convention, too.

        Thursday night in First Union Center here — the last night of a convention short of specifics but heavy on impressions and tone — was a night of balloons, confetti and joyful Republicans dancing in the aisles as the GOP toasted a candidate in George W. Bush they believe has the charisma, style and political skills needed to win back the White House after an eight-year exile.

        Thursday night, they were exuberant enough to fly back to their homes under their own power, but when they land, reality will set in.

        They have a tough campaign ahead.

        “I fully expect it is going to turn negative,” said Ohio Secretary of State J. Kenneth Blackwell. “Al Gore didn't beat Bill Bradley by being a nice guy.”

Conservative or moderate?
        All this week in Philadelphia, the political message that filtered out of First Union Center was that the GOP has a candidate who is a “compassionate conservative” — concerned about families, children and education, and ready to restore dignity and pride to the presidency.

        But from the outside, the Democrats, who meet Aug. 14 in Los Angeles for their own convention, have been taking shots at Mr. Bush and Dick Cheney, running TV ads in key states attacking the GOP ticket.

        The Republicans weren't straight with the American people, hiding from hard-line conservative issues — such as abortion, gun laws and others — by not mentioning them during the convention, said Terry Mann of Fort Thomas, a member of the Campbell County Democratic Executive Committee.

        “You can put wool on a duck, but he is never going to be a sheep,” Mr. Mann said Thursday in a phone interview. “They can try to run as moderates, but they are still going to quack.

        “What the Republicans are really saying is, "Look at us, we're like the Democrats so you can vote for us now,' but people are going to see right through that,” he said.

GOP campaign issues
        The GOP will focus on four basic issues, said alternate delegate Damon Thayer of Scott County and vice chairman of the Kentucky Republican Party.

        “Taxes. Education. Defense. Social Security,” he said. “Taxes, fair and simple. Education, local control and leave no child behind. Defense, we've got to make it stronger, we've got to build up the military. And Social Security, looking to reform it and save it for the future. Real simple.”

        Republicans are prepared to go back home and sustain the momentum from the convention, said alternate delegate Marc Carey of Owen County, chairman of the 4th District GOP.

        “And we do that by going home and telling the voters that we have a winner, that we are going to win this race,” Mr. Carey said.

        Mr. Bush will be able to make his case to voters because his message is far more positive than in past Republican campaigns, said delegate Barb Haas of Fort Thomas, the chairwoman of the Campbell County GOP.

        Back to Convention Page

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Convention Notes