Bush Previews Convention Speech

Sunday, July 30th 2000, 12:00 am
By: News On 6

CINCINNATI (AP) — George W. Bush is road-testing parts of his convention speech and delivery style during short but spirited rallies on his way to Philadelphia for the Republican National Convention.

Gone from his speeches these days is the laid-back Texas governor addressing medium-sized crowds in sparsely decorated venues; instead, his supporters and the television cameras see an exuberant Republican candidate delivering short optimistic messages to cheering supporters before dramatic backdrops.

Things were quieter Sunday morning as Bush and his wife Laura attended services at Hyde Park Community United Methodist Church. He shook hands briefly outside the church before they went in.

On Saturday, Bush first spoke to more than a thousand people in the rain before the Louisville Slugger Museum's six-story baseball bat. Later, about the same number gathered on a sun-splashed hilltop overlooking Cincinnati to listen to him speak of a new era for the nation while a single-engine plane trailed a banner overhead that read:

``Bush-Cheney 2000 — Renewing America's Purpose.''

That's Bush's theme as he pushes eastward toward Philadelphia on a six-day tour of battleground states that President Clinton won in 1992 and 1996. As running mate Dick Cheney headed back to Washington for a round of Sunday talk shows and a rally in Philadelphia, Bush's sweeping rhetoric gave a preview, aides said, of parts of his 3,900-word convention speech.

``These are states where the Republican candidate hasn't done too well,'' Bush told supporters in Covington, Ky., late Saturday. ``We're gonna change that.''

Bush said he and his running mate planned to be something of a tag team in battleground states and predicted that Cheney's quiet dignity would be reassuring in the face of Democratic attacks.

``Just personally, he's obviously got a different style than I do,'' Bush told reporters, describing it as ``a little more laid back than mine.''

Bush said he looked forward to what would be one of the most magical moments of his life: ``walking out on that stage'' to accept the Republican presidential nomination as his father, President Bush, and his family look on from the audience.

``It's going to be an emotional experience for me, of course,'' Bush told reporters aboard his campaign plane.

He spoke to his audiences about ``calling upon the best of America'' to help out the less fortunate, rebuilding the morale and strength of the military and protecting Social Security for retirees.

``We're running to make sure that this American experience touches every willing heart,'' he said in Covington.

Bush brushed off polls that showed him expanding his lead going into the Republican convention.

``I've watched poll numbers crumble,'' he said, in a reference to his father's losing 1992 reelection campaign.

Asked about any role his father might have played in choosing Cheney or making other decisions, Bush said, ``This man is not a political consultant. He is a father and I love and respect him and the advice I get from him is the advice a dad would give a son.''

In an interview with Time Magazine, Bush said he is confident enough to surround himself with smart people as advisers, and would do so in the White House. ``I'm confident of my intellect,'' he said. ``I wouldn't be running if I wasn't. My job will not be to out-think everybody in my administration.''

But he said advisers ``don't decide for me,'' and he will overrule them when he thinks it right.

He also said in the interview that his family name ``cuts both ways'' in campaigning. ``Some folks will say 'there's George and Barbara's son. He must be interesting, let me listen.' Others say 'he's not done anything in his life, just running on his daddy's name.' It's a mixed blessing.''

A handful of protesters shadowed Bush throughout the day, chanting for Gore and holding up signs.

``Daddy's money...Empty suit,'' read one.