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A bouyant Bush arrives to accept nomination
By Compiled from Times wires
© St. Petersburg Times, published August 3, 2000
George W. Bush, voicing confidence that "you're looking at the next president of the United States," arrived in Philadelphia on Wednesday to formally accept his party's presidential nomination.
After a warm-up tour through six states and two brief appearances by satellite, the Texas governor's first stop was a Hispanic rally where he alternated between English and Spanish as he told a crowd of more than 1,000: "There's a better day for America; there's a better day for all."
The speech, which will likely come in around 45 minutes including expected interruptions from applause, will reiterate the core themes -- lower taxes, Social Security and education reform, free trade, and rebuilding the military -- Bush has emphasized since launching his campaign more than a year ago.
A Bush-McCain ticket?
On the day Dick Cheney was set to formally introduce himself to the world as George W. Bush's vice presidential nominee, the Texas governor kept introducing John McCain.
At a rally Wednesday, Bush called McCain's address the night before "a touching tribute to America." That cued McCain's surprise stroll onstage, where Bush wrapped him in a hug and whispered something in his ear.
At a $10-million fundraiser -- an event boycotted by the reform-minded McCain -- Bush blessed his former rival.
With Cheney off stage and out of site, the Texan declared, "I can't wait to campaign with John McCain. Together we can win this election!"
Bush, who lost seven primaries to the Arizona senator last winter, knows better than most about McCain's appeal to independent voters. But when it came time to fill out his ticket, the Texan selected loyalty over political potency -- giving off the impression that he's trying to have it both ways.
Marches, not melee
A day after a running battle between police and protesters gridlocked downtown streets, both sides took steps Wednesday to keep the calm during the third day of the Republican National Convention.
Protesters staged orderly marches and held a peaceful rally in a park across the street from the city jail, where more than 350 demonstrators arrested Tuesday were being held, mostly on misdemeanor charges. Only a handful of arrests were reported Wednesday.
Top cop hurt in protest
Police commissioner John Timoney was recovering Wednesday after he was injured Tuesday night in a tussle with protesters.
"I'm hurting," he admitted after a news conference at the African American Museum.
Other than waking up with a sore shoulder from the fracas, Timoney's day got off to a great start: an 8 a.m. phone call from George W. Bush.
"He said he just wanted to thank me and the whole department for the great job we did (on Tuesday)," Timoney said.
Last at-bat for Mack
It is only fitting that one of Sen. Connie Mack's last political at-bats comes in the city where the name of his legendary grandfather was synonymous with baseball for half a century.
For Mack, a Florida Republican who is retiring this year, the Republican National Convention represents a personal trip around the bases.
His last convention as an elected official is being held in the city where he was born and spent his youth.
"It is completing the circle," said Mack, as he reminisced Wednesday about his namesake grandfather.
The Mack political line may not be at an end. His son, Connie, 32, is seeking a state legislative seat in Broward. He is at the convention with his father, getting political tips from a retiring pro.
"Being here together in Philadelphia is very special," Mack said.
The Rock revs the ball
The Rock reved up the Republican National Convention, but some GOP conservatives didn't want his help.
The World Wrestling Federation champion joined House Speaker Dennis Hastert, a former high school wrestling coach, in launching Wednesday night's convention session.
That didn't sit well with the Parents Television Council, which complained to GOP leaders that The Rock stars in "the most violent and vulgar program on prime time network television."
The Rock answered his critics at a news conference promoting a voter registration drive the WWF is sponsoring with MTV's Choose or Lose, Youth Vote 2000 and Project Vote Smart.
"If they're truly upset with it, lighten up," he said. "The violence in our show is very slapstick; there are no guns, there are no knives, there are no axes, nobody gets killed."
Speaking of ROCK
Rocker John Mellencamp's "staying mum" on George W. Bush's liberal use of his song R.O.C.K. in the USA on the campaign trail. Bush had been playing the song on his pre-convention tour.
He also used the tune when he announced Dick Cheney as his running mate. Mellencamp's R.O.C.K. hasn't reached the status of Fleetwood Mac's Don't Stop Thinking About Tomorrow from Clinton-Gore '92 as an official campaign song for Bush, but it's been played enough to strike a chord at rallies.
While Mellencamp isn't a Bush supporter, he won't comment on the matter unless it becomes used in a more prominent way, said the New York Post, reporting on the story.
Right now, it's only the first song of a tape that also includes music by Gloria Estefan and John Fogerty. Mellencamp's been in this position before, refusing to give permission to Ronald Reagan who wanted to use his Pink Houses. Four years ago, Bob Dole angered Bruce Springsteen after Dole used Born in the U.S.A.
Politician turned rock star
Rep. Joe Scarborough got to be a Republican rock star Wednesday.
The Pensacola politician played his original song Together in America during prime time at the convention, backed by his band Regular Joe. It was yet another effort by the Republican Party to show its diversity.
Scarborough, wearing a polo shirt and funky black glasses, came out flashing a peace sign to the crowd. He had audio problems at first, but soon began jumping on stage like Bruce Springsteen, as delegates hit beach balls back and forth.
The conservative congressman is famous for his off-the-wall song lyrics about transvestites and taking bribes, but Wednesday's song came straight from the GOP message book. "I still believe in a place called America," he sang.
BRADLEY SALUTE: State Rep. Rudy Bradley of St. Petersburg was introduced as "a true profile in courage." In a brief speech, the Democrat-turned-Republican said he switched parties because "I finally figured out that my philosophy of freedom, prosperity and less government was not welcome" in the Democratic Party. "I also grew tired of the Democrats' partisanship. They seemed more interested in scoring political points than solving the people's problems."
MAKING MONEY: State Rep. Mike Fasano is one of Florida's 80 alternate delegates here, but as of Wednesday he still had not set foot on the convention floor. That's because the New Port Richey Republican, who is coordinating his party's state House campaigns, has been spending his time in meetings with big GOP contributors. By Friday, Fasano expects to have enriched the Republican Party of Florida by $100,000.
HIJACKED SLOGAN: The Children's Defense Fund, a Washington think tank, is considering suing the Republican Party for using its trademarked slogan, "Leave no child behind" as the official theme of its convention's opening night. "They shouldn't hijack the phrase without acting on behalf of children," said founder and president Marian Wright Edelman. She said George W. Bush has yet to respond to the think tank's complaints; Republicans said nobody has the exclusive rights to helping kids.
"POLITICAL ORGIES': Presidential candidate Ralph Nader on Wednesday denounced the Republican and Democratic conventions as corporate-paid "political orgies" and dismissed criticism that he will siphon votes from Vice President Al Gore. Nader, the Green Party candidate, unleashed his anti-establishment offensive at two separate appearances across town from the GOP convention.
JUST "W': George W. Bush has joined the ranks of Madonna, Sting and Jewel. He's no singer, but he's enough of a celebrity among the party faithful now that just one word -- make that one letter -- will get the message across. The most popular T-shirts, buttons and other souvenirs here boast only one large W. "At least it's a cool letter," one buyer said.
On the schedule today
THEME: "President with a purpose: A strong leader who can unite our country and get things done."
SPEAKER: Texas Gov. George W. Bush's acceptance speech.
TELEVISION: ABC and CBS plan coveraged from 9-11 p.m.; NBC from 9:30-11 p.m. CNN, MSNBC and Fox News plan continual coverage throughout the night.
© St. Petersburg Times. All rights reserved.