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Ford makes speedy recovery after stroke

By Compiled from Times staff and wire reports

© St. Petersburg Times, published August 4, 2000


Just days after suffering a stroke, Gerald Ford walked briefly, visited with friends and family, and pressed his staff to let him get back to his regular schedule.

Doctors said Thursday that the 87-year-old former president will recover fully, but they were doing tests to determine the cause of some tongue swelling -- unrelated to the stroke.

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Dr. Robert Schwartzman, chief of neurology at Hahnemann University Hospital, said Ford is doing fine but had undergone a magnetic resonance imaging test on his tongue. Possible causes, Schwartzman said, include some type of trauma, an infection, or "very unlikely," a growth of some sort. Ford was given mouthwash to ease the pain.

"From a stroke standpoint, he is progressing exactly as we would expect for someone in his condition," said Dr. Carole Thomas, director of the neurological intensive care and stroke program at the hospital. "It was a fairly minor stroke."

Ford could be released from the hospital over the weekend or early next week, without any need for rehabilitation therapy, doctors said. Ford's speech was still slurred, but he had regained the use of his left hand.

Thursday morning, Ford walked 30 or 40 feet with assistance.

Neurological exams showed Ford suffered at least one stroke and may have had more, doctors said.

Cheney finishing up business

WASHINGTON -- As his new boss took center stage Thursday, Dick Cheney moved to the sidelines. But don't expect him to stay there for long.

Cheney will be playing offense and raising money for George W. Bush as the two tackle battleground states crucial to a GOP victory in November, campaign aides said.

The former defense secretary spent Thursday attending a round of meet-and-greets with donors. Cheney also put his corporate chieftan hat back on, attending a Union Pacific Corp. board of directors meeting aboard a vintage train car that the company has used to entertain delegates at the convention.

Cheney is a director at the giant railway company. Aides said he'll resign the post soon.

Armey makes anti-gay joke

House Majority Leader Dick Armey made an anti-gay joke to a group of journalists at a party Wednesday night that used Rep. Barney Frank's homosexuality as the punch line.

Armey spokeswoman Michelle Davis said the comment was taken out of context. But, after talking to her boss, she confirmed that the Texas Republican had made a joke to five political cartoonists and humorist Dave Barry.

According to Mike Luckovich, a cartoonist for the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, the following exchange occurred:

"Are you really Dick Armey?" Barry asked.

Armey replied, "Yes, I am Dick Armey. And if there is a dick army, Barney Frank would want to join up."

Davis said Armey anticipated that someone in the group would use the joke and decided to utter it first.

"It's a bad joke and he was just trying to get it over with," Davis said.

In 1995, Armey called Frank, a Democrat from Massachusetts, "Barney Fag" in an interview with broadcast journalists. Armey immediately apologized, saying, "I don't use the word in personal conversation. I would not use such an expression."

Frank was traveling Thursday and could not be reached for comment.

Fla. delegates to Nader: Move on

The Republican Party says it's welcoming newcomers, but at least one person need not apply for a spot in the Florida delegation.

Green Party presidential candidate Ralph Nader scored a floor pass at the GOP convention hall Wednesday night and staked out a place near the Florida delegation. Delegation Chairman Al Cardenas told Nader to get lost.

"I said, "You're in my territory, this is Florida's delegation,' " Cardenas said. " "Unless you move to Florida . . . please leave.' "

Mrs. Bush: I'll focus on education

Laura Bush, who has been a partner in her husband's campaign to upgrade Texas schools, says she would expand her efforts nationwide if the Texas governor is elected president.

Mrs. Bush was speaking at a packed charity luncheon in her honor Thursday where she was showered with tributes to her love of reading and her determination to inspire that passion in children early enough to affect the course of their lives.

"Many children enter schools without even having such basics as an alphabet or their colors or how to count to 10," said Mrs. Bush, a former public school teacher and librarian. "For these children, reading and learning can be a struggle."

"And if they don't get help early, then theirs becomes a lifetime of playing catch-up or giving up or dropping out," she added. "These same faces that started out with such high hopes, wind up in prisons and welfare lines and homeless shelters."

Mack ready to come home

Retiring U.S. Sen. Connie Mack said Thursday that he would not be particularly interested in working in a Bush administration should the Texas governor win the presidency.

Mack calls himself a big Bush backer, but he's ready to come home to Florida.

"My intents are not to be part of the administration," he said before speaking to Florida delegates. "I've made the decision to step down from politics."

Mack, the featured speaker at the delegation's breakfast, said he and his wife, Priscilla, are building a house on Palm Island off the Southwest Florida coast.

"Priscilla's already moved back," he said.

Mack, 59, his wife and daughter are all cancer survivors, and he said he intends to continue advocating medical research.

Jeb! Way too much information!

Out with wedge politics. In with wedgie politics.

Florida Gov. Jeb Bush aired the family's laundry when he announced his state delegation's votes on behalf of his brother at the convention Thursday night. He touched on a "unique aspect" of his state.

"The governor of the state, and perhaps the governor of the state of Texas, is the only person on this floor that has had his mouth washed out by the greatest, most popular woman in the world," Jeb Bush said, meaning mom.

"Been spanked by a president of the United States," he went on, meaning dad.

"And gotten a wedgie from the next president of the United States."

Watts hopes to attract blacks

Black Republicans are stepping up efforts to attract more African-Americans to the GOP, with voter drives, tours by party stars and efforts to persuade more blacks to run for Congress.

"I feel like I will not be the only African-American Republican member of the House of Representatives after November," Rep. J.C. Watts of Oklahoma said Thursday at a news conference attended by three dozen black convention delegates, elected officials and supporters.

Watts and Arizona Sen. John McCain will conduct an outreach tour later this month in Pennsylvania, New Jersey and New York.

Short takes

A FILM FOR W.: At the 1992 Democratic convention, Bill Clinton was introduced with a video titled Man from Hope. Thursday night, George W. Bush got his own film, a 91/2-minute video called The Sky's the Limit. In it, Bush even poked fun at himself a bit. It showed him stumbling over his words and then saying, "I need to laugh at some of the things I say." The film concluded with Bush driving off in his pickup truck with a voice over: "I'm going to remind people that we're lucky to be Americans."

AND A THEME SONG TOO: A new GOP campaign anthem aimed at working families called We the People was introduced Thursday after Bush completed his acceptance speech. The mixture of country, rock 'n' roll and blues includes lyrics such as: "We pay the taxes, we pay the bills so they better pay attention on Capitol Hill." The song is being released by country singer Billy Ray Cyrus along with John Anderson, Waylon Jennings, Danni Leigh, Montgomery Gentry and Yankee Grey.

EVEN SIGNS ARE SCRIPTED: All those signs you see delegates waving? They're handmade, yes, but not homemade by the delegates. They were put together well in advance -- 30,000 of them. Hours before Thursday's final session, young volunteers carefully placed signs on delegate chairs. As for the balloons, 150,000 were filled by local high school students using compressors, and then tied by hand.

CALLING A TRUCE: A rickety political truce emerged Thursday between President Clinton and former President George Bush. Their verbal brawl sputtered to a halt because handlers for both George W. Bush and Al Gore saw the war of words as a risky detour for the candidates.

BAD HAIR DAYS: The convention has been a boon for Philadelphia's hair salons. Many extended their hours to accommodate crowds of Republicans in search of tamer tresses, manicures, pedicures and even massages. Thanks to a hair- and nail-emergency hotline set up by Pierre & Carlo Salon & Spa, Susan Weddington, chairwoman of the Texas delegation, was able to find a quick cure for a chipped nail. "We're just kind of natural women in Texas," Weddington said. "We're not too pretentious, but we do like to have our nails done. It looks good when we wave."

QUOTE OF THE DAY: "I would never live it down if my brother didn't carry Florida. Imagine all the family gatherings for the next 20 years when he looked at me every time and said, "What happened in Florida?' " -- Gov. Jeb Bush at a breakfast Thursday.

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