Bush Acceptance Speech Is Tonight

Thursday, August 3rd 2000, 12:00 am
By: News On 6

PHILADELPHIA (AP) — Texas Gov. George W. Bush, building on a political dynasty spanning three generations, claims the Republican presidential nomination Thursday night declaring that America needs a change of leadership to solve the tough problems that President Clinton and Al Gore failed to fix.

``We are all a little weary of the Clinton-Gore routine,'' running mate Dick Cheney told the confetti-filled GOP convention Wednesday night. ``But the wheel has turned. And it is time, it is time for them to go.''

``Send them home,'' delegates shouted back, taking off their hats and waving goodbye. Cheney's speech provided the partisan bite that had been missing in a convention programmed to present a softer, more moderate face.

Bush's brother, Florida Gov. Jeb Bush, said Thursday that ``the gloves were off, perhaps'' in Cheney's speech but he called it a ``deft touch.'' ``It was not smash mouth; there was no degrading of people,'' he said on NBC's ``Today'' show.

The Bush who's the party's presidential nominee said he will deliver a closing speech that ``speaks from my heart. I'm going to lift the spirit of the country.''

Born to one of America's most prestigious political families, Bush begins his quest just eight years after his father was forced from the Oval Office. His grandfather was a U.S. senator from Connecticut. His brother is the governor of Florida.

In his own prime-time televised address, Bush will share his disappointment about what he believes is the Clinton-Gore administration's failure over eight years to improve schools, reform Social Security, overhaul taxes, beef up the military and attach some form of prescription drug benefit to Medicare.

``He will talk about the current administration's failure to get anything done,'' said spokeswoman Karen Hughes. ``The tone will be regretful rather than critical.''

Bush, 54, seeks to become the first presidential son to win the White House since John Quincy Adams in 1824. Bush enters the race ahead in the polls and leading a party more united than it's been in 16 years.

Cheney said ``big changes are coming to Washington'' if Bush wins in November. He promised Bush ``will repair what has been damaged'' and ``restore decency and integrity to the Oval Office.''

Bush and Cheney officially won their nominations in a tumultuous convention gala. Bush watched from his hotel suite a few miles away. He described himself as ``a tough competitor'' and said, ``I'm going to give it my best shot.''

``What are we to make of the past eight years?'' Cheney questioned in his acceptance speech, taking aim at Clinton and Gore, the Democratic presidential nominee-in-waiting. ``I look at them,'' Cheney said, ``and see opportunities squandered. The wheel has turned. And it is time. It is time for them to go.''

Cheney's time-for-them-to-go barb was borrowed from Al Gore's vice presidential speech before the Democratic convention in 1992, aimed at then-President George Bush.

Cheney presented his credentials as a former congressman, White House chief of staff, defense secretary and business executive. He said that Gore would try to pull away from Clinton to be his own man. ``But we will never see one without thinking of the other.''

He said Clinton and Gore came in together. ``Now let us see them off together,'' he chortled.

A tracking poll taken during the convention and released Thursday gave Bush a 14-point lead in the presidential race against Gore, 48 percent to 34 percent, largely unchanged from Wednesday. The nonpartisan Voter.com-Battleground poll of 1,000 likely voters taken Tuesday and Wednesday had Ralph Nader at 6 percent and Pat Buchanan at 2 percent and had a 3 percentage point error margin.

At Cheney's behest, the convention paused to convey good wishes to former President Ford, hospitalized after suffering perhaps two strokes in Philadelphia. Doctors said Ford should recover completely.

The final night of the convention belongs to Bush.

There will be a generational theme woven through Bush's acceptance speech, noting that this is the first election since World War II without a candidate of that generation. ``What will our generation do?'' Hughes said Bush would ask.

``What the speech is doing is saying we have a unique moment, because with our prosperity and relative peace we have the means to tackle the tough problems before they create a crisis for our children,'' she said.

Untested on the international stage, Bush hopes his speech will demonstrate that his business background and two terms as governor have given him the skills to lead the nation, keep the economy booming and deal with problems abroad.

``My fellow Americans,'' he said in a practice run at the convention microphone, ``I accept your nomination.''

Bush makes that declaration official in closing the convention.

Democrats tried to get a word in edgewise, faxing and phoning statements to news organizations.

``So much for the Republicans' positive campaign,'' said Gore spokesman Chris Lehane. ``Tonight they're turning the clock back with a card-carrying conservative member of the Republican old guard. They're engaging in the only type of Republican politics they know: attack politics.''

A five-page rebuttal from Gore's campaign claimed Cheney had delivered ``one of the most negative Republican convention speeches since Pat Buchanan. The mask is off the GOP masquerade ball.''