• U.S.

A Gentle G.O.P. Face

2 minute read
John F. Dickerson

If the administration’s hard line on Iraq is turning off some voters, Republican Party leaders are hoping to restore a more moderate face when it counts the most–at the party’s national convention in New York City at the end of August. A Bush campaign official tells TIME the roster of prime-time speakers will include California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger. The former Terminator does not share President Bush’s opposition to abortion and gay marriage, and during the movie star’s gubernatorial run, some advisers counseled the President to keep his distance, to avoid offending his conservative base. But Republican officials now hope the Governor’s broad appeal will help undo Democratic efforts to paint the party as doctrinaire.

Another moderate party figure who will be speaking in prime time is John McCain, who has clashed with the Administration on a number of issues and was even talked of as a vice-presidential candidate for the Democrats. He is expected to voice strong support for the Iraq war. One real Democrat, retiring Georgia Senator Zell Miller, who has often broken with his party to back Bush, will also speak at the convention. Secretary of Education Rod Paige will remind voters of Bush’s record on education. New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg will open the festivities. His predecessor Rudy Giuliani and New York Governor George Pataki will also get prime airtime to remind the country of Bush’s steady response to the 9/11 attacks.

Viewers may find the spectacle something of a rerun of the overtly inclusionary 2000 convention; campaign officials are again asking state delegations to stress diversity. Projecting such an image is crucial after weeks of strident exchanges between the parties, culminating in Vice President Cheney’s outburst at Democratic Senator Pat Leahy last week. Cheney will get a prime-time spot too, of course, but insiders say he’s unlikely to join in the gentler approach. “Cheney soften?” says a Bush official. “Don’t bet on it.” –By John F. Dickerson

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