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Cheney's moment, Bush's boost
A day in the life: He's not running - this time - but Florida's Gov. Jeb Bush is keeping a hectic schedule at the Republican National Convention.
By BILL ADAIR
© St. Petersburg Times, published August 3, 2000
Loews Philadelphia Hotel
The Florida delegates are buzzing about mystery guests due to arrive any minute. State Republican leaders won't reveal their identities, but the Secret Service agents at the kitchen door provide a good clue.
"Family," Bush says, "matters more than politics. It matters more than a five-point plan. Even if I had a family member who was a liberal, I would still love them to death." But he quickly adds that they haven't found any liberals in the Bush clan.
He tells the crowd that he's especially proud of his son George P., a handsome 24-year-old described in one newspaper headline this week as "a babe magnet." Bush boasts that his son is as good on MTV as on Larry King Live.
He praises his brother, George W., the presidential candidate: "As I watch him on television and campaigned with him over the last year, he looks like the president now. He has grown into the job."
It's time for the mystery guests.
The governor introduces "the greatest man I've ever met in my life and the greatest man I'll ever meet -- George Bush." The crowd erupts in a standing ovation.
The former president and his wife, Barbara, walk in from the hotel kitchen and step onto the riser, waving to the 200 Floridians.
"Jeb tells me you are all very concerned about the Federal Reserve Board and the international trade deficit, so I thought I would give you about 40 minutes on it," he jokes, laughing as he checks his watch.
The former president complains about news reports that said he played a big role in George W.'s presidential campaign. He says Barbara shares his anger.
"This morning on Good Morning America, she went semi-ballistic. I'd do it myself, but as my friend Dana Carvey would say" -- he does an exaggerated version of the comedian's imitation of him -- "Not gonna do it! Wouldn't be prudent!"
It's Barbara Bush's turn. She's wearing a bright-blue business suit, her hair like a puffy white cloud. "I'm not going to do any more interviews because I find I cannot resist defending our men."
* * *
His parents have departed, so Florida's governor ventures into the middle of the ballroom. He doesn't get far before he's mobbed by delegates and reporters.
As people jockey to shake his hand and pose for pictures, he realizes that his newfound celebrity status is going to make it hard to move.
"I think we weren't supposed to do this," he says warily.
He is trailed by a plainclothes security agent who radios to another agent through a tiny sleeve microphone.
"I'd like to take him into the kitchen," the agent says into his sleeve, "but I can't get him there."
* * *
Bush is in a hotel meeting room, addressing 100 officials from other nations. It's part of the Republican outreach to people in other countries who share GOP values.
The crowd seems to like Bush's answers about education, foreign trade and "compassionate conservatism."
Someone asks when he's going to run for president.
"We're on new turf here with all these Bushes running for things," he says. "I figure we'll probably be at a point where people will be tired of the Bushes."
He complains about the partisan bitterness in Washington politics and blames President Clinton and the Republicans for the nasty atmosphere.
When he tries to leave, he again gets mobbed by the crowd.
* * *
Pennsylvania Convention Hall
The head of George W. Bush is 25 feet tall.
He has just arrived in Philadelphia and is on stage at a gargantuan fundraising luncheon. The crowd is so large -- about 3,000 people -- that most have to watch him on giant TV screens.
It's the first time on Wednesday that Jeb Bush is not the center of attention. He's sitting at a table with his son, George P., the young Republican heartthrob who was on People magazine's "most eligible bachelor" list.
On stage, the Texas governor jokes that his nephew is stealing the spotlight.
"I'm not sure we should be campaigning with him, Jeb," the Texas governor says. "People are kind of looking beyond us."
After lunch, Jeb, George P. and Jeb Jr. go on stage. The governor and George P. read a list of the Top 10 Reasons to Elect George W.:
No. 8: Will cut federal spending by using leftover "From the Desk of President Bush" notepads
No. 2 (read by George P.): Great pickup line: "You wanna take a stroll through my uncle's rose garden?"
* * *
Congress Room A, Loews Hotel
The Philadelphia Daily News is running a daily "Hunk Watch" on George P.'s daily activities. One recent headline said, "GOP's Babe Magnet strikes again."
At a news conference, a reporter asks Jeb Bush if he will describe what it's like to have his son described as "a babe magnet."
"No," the governor replies curtly.
"Were you ever a babe magnet?" another reporter asks.
When the laughter subsides, Bush says, "There's a little bit of me in him, but for the most part, his good looks come from my wife."
Asked what he'll do to help his brother win Florida, the governor says, "I've given my brother a personal commitment that I will do everything in my power to see that he is elected. I don't want to live the rest of my life with the humiliation of it not being that way."
© St. Petersburg Times. All rights reserved.