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At least 280 arrested in convention protest

By Compiled from Times staff and wire reports

© St. Petersburg Times, published August 2, 2000

PHILADELPHIA -- Scores of protesters were arrested in a running cat-and-mouse contest with police across downtown thoroughfares on Tuesday as they sought to disrupt the Republican National Convention with illegal hit-and-run demonstrations.

The evening rush-hour traffic was turned into gridlock around City Hall as hundreds of young demonstrators, some of them masked with bandanas, blocked a main entrance of the interstate highway and strutted as they pleased at key points in the city, clogging intersections with only selective interference from police.

With the city intent on maintaining an upbeat convention gleam, the police clearly worked to avoid the sort of full-scale, baton-wielding clashes with street demonstrators that occurred last winter at the World Trade Organization conference and blackened Seattle's reputation. Demonstrators, on the other hand, clearly worked to steal the media spotlight and create street scenes of non-stop political protest.

The convention, 3 miles away, remained unfazed. But delegates increasingly watched the local TV coverage of protests out beyond their meeting through the slower parts of their pro-forma agenda. Some delegates reported inconvenience in journeying around protest-clogged streets to reach the convention arena in South Philadelphia. But none were heard demanding a more hard-edged response from city authorities.

The Associated Press reported that at least 280 people had been taken into custody last night. The police said that four officers were injured and 20 patrol car windows smashed during the day of increasing disruption.

Protesters representing a score of causes seemed energized by the day, the most tense and chaotic thus far in the convention week. They vowed to extend their street tactics further over the next two days in the downtown blocks around major convention hotels.

Bradley to speak Thursday

Rudy Bradley is new to the Republican Party and the Florida GOP wants people to know he is representative of a new party.

Bradley, a black state lawmaker from St. Petersburg, is scheduled to appear on the podium at the Republican National Convention on Thursday.

A pervasive theme at the convention has been that there is room in the GOP for more minorities. Many black, Hispanic, Asian and other minority Republicans have shown up on the stage and in videos during the convention.

Bradley was a Democrat, but switched parties last year, becoming only the second black Republican in the Florida Legislature since Reconstruction. He is now running for a state Senate seat.

Bush lashes out at Clinton

GETTYSBURG, Pa. -- George W. Bush responded sharply Tuesday to increasingly personal criticism from the current occupant of the White House.

Bush said Democratic President Clinton is "so desperate to have his legacy intact by getting Al Gore elected, he'll say anything, just like Gore will."

Clinton had said the Republicans were trying to mislead Americans with their convention talk of compassion and inclusion, and he had belittled Bush's experience, suggesting one reason he was in the running was because his "daddy was president."

Former President Bush jumped into the fray at that, telling a TV interviewer if such criticism of his son persists, he'll tell Americans what he really thinks about Clinton "as a human being and as a person."

Candidate Bush has generally refrained from mentioning either Clinton or Gore by name, but he did so twice -- both aboard his campaign plane and at a rally in Charleston, W.Va.

"This nation is sick and tired of the politics of personal destruction; they want a uniter not a divider. This nation does not want four more years of Clinton-Gore," Bush told a rally in front of West Virginia's Veterans Memorial.

A compliment -- sort of

Rep. Porter Goss of Florida meant it as a compliment, but it didn't come out that way when he praised George W. Bush's selection of Dick Cheney as the vice presidential running mate.

Goss told Congressional Quarterly, a Times affiliate, that Cheney "fills several of the critical blocks in terms of competence, capability and experience that opponents of George W. Bush could have brought forward."

The Sanibel Republican chairs the House Intelligence Committee.

Short takes

KEEPING HIS COOL: Some Republicans were just a bit nervous before Tuesday night's speech by Sen. John McCain, who has been known to stray from his script and flash his temper. "I hope he's got a good night's sleep," Florida Republican Party Chairman Al Cardenas joked Tuesday morning.

LYNNE CHENEY TAKES LEAVES: Lynne Cheney, wife of Republican vice presidential candidate Dick Cheney, has asked to take leaves of absence from the boards of three corporations, the defense firm Lockheed Martin Corp., Readers Digest Association, and a mutual fund board in Minnesota, company officials said Tuesday.

COPYING A COIF: The Washington Post reports that as Lynne Cheney sat down Saturday at Georgetown's Ilo Day Spa for a color job and a cut, she produced a photo of none other than Hillary Rodham Clinton and instructed, "Do it like that."

TIME FOR A REAL JOB: Also making the scene in Philadelphia is former Tampa real estate agent Tim Watters, a dead ringer for President Clinton, who was touring the media workspaces the other day on behalf of Pepperidge Farm Goldfish and Kids Voting USA, a program to acquaint schoolchildren with the mysteries of democracy. "I grossed over a million dollars in 1996 and have consistently done over a half-million since 1995," Watters told the Washington Post, adding that he, his wife and three kids are set for life now that his Clinton-impersonating days are about to end: "Bill Clinton has been very, very good to me."

BRUCE BOWS OUT: Bruce Willis was to narrate a video tribute to former GOP presidents Tuesday night, but the job fell to his understudy, New York Gov. George Pataki. Willis publicist Paul Bloch said Willis wanted to go to Philadelphia, but a "film-related" problem prevented the trip. He refused to go into further detail.

Pick your slogan

In compliance with George W. Bush's directive to stay away from traditional, hard-hitting attacks on the opposition, political memorabilia booths along the perimeter of the First Union Center are stacked with buttons that carry only positive, tepid messages, like "Bush-Cheney 2000."

But there's another Republican bazaar a few miles away in the Philadelphia Convention Center doing a brisk business in take-no-prisoners slogans. Among them, a button that says: "Nixon 2000. Not as Stiff as Gore."

And a bumper sticker with "Gore Would Be The Best President China Ever Had." And another: "Al Gore Will Do the Job of 3 Men -- Curly, Larry & Moe."

On the schedule today

THEME: "Prosperity with a purpose: Keeping America prosperous and protecting retirement security."

SPEAKERS: Variety of small business entrepreneurs; acceptance speech by Dick Cheney, vice presidential nominee.

TELEVISION: CBS, NBC and ABC plan live coverage, 10-11 p.m. PBS offers an extended NewsHour with Jim Lehrer, 8-11 p.m. CNN, MSNBC and Fox News plan continual coverage throughout the night.

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