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RAY SUAREZ: Good evening I'm Ray Suarez. Jim Lehrer has the day off. On the NewsHour today, Kwame Holman reports on the Republican ticket leaving the nominating convention for the campaign trail, Bush adviser Karl Rove on the next three months in the race for the White House, media correspondent Terence Smith has a discussion on how well the public received the GOP message from Philadelphia, analysis from Mark Shields and Paul Gigot, and a 200th birthday visit to an American treasure, the Library of Congress, and a favorite poem. It all follows our summary of the news this Friday.
RAY SUAREZ: George W. Bush and Diick Cheney began a whistle-stop tour today with the Republican convention now concluded. They flew from Philadelphia to Pittsburgh, where they boarded a train for a three-day campaign swing through Midwestern states. Bush said he and Cheney were energized, united, and focused on winning. He said they know they're in for a tough campaign, but they're ready. We'll have more on the Republican ticket's day right after this News Summary. Vice President Gore today also predicted a tough fight ahead. He spoke to the International association of firefighters in Chicago. He acknowledged he's trailing governor Bush in new polls, but he challenged the Republicans' call for "prosperity with a purpose."
AL GORE: If you ask me, the Republican national convention was kind of like a masquerade ball for special interests with a purpose. And behind the mask... And behind the mask, we found the same politics of personal attack. Behind the balloons and the bunting is a massive budget-busting tax-give away primarily benefiting the wealthy in this country. They're for the powerful; and we're for the people.
RAY SUAREZ: Gore is to announce his running mate next Tuesday. The Democratic National Convention kicks off the following week in Los Angeles. Former President Ford continued to improve today from the effects of one or two small strokes. Doctors in Philadelphia said his speech and balance were better. He also regained the use of his left hand and was sleeping well. President Ford did complain of a swollen tongue, but the doctors said it was not stroke related. They were still hoping to release him next week.
DR. ROBERT SCHWARTZMAN: Neurologically he's doing extremely well. We would feel that probably next Wednesday or so, if it's just limited to a neurological problem, as we stated, he's doing extremely well with that. But it really depends on what's happening with his tongue evaluation.
RAY SUAREZ: The doctors said ford might have bitten his tongue, or might have a growth. They said a biopsy could provide the answer. Alaska Airlines today completed inspections on 15 of 17 jets it grounded yesterday. All were Boeing MD-80 models, similar to one that crashed off southern California in January. 88 people were killed. A part of the tail section may have played a role in the crash. The airline said it inspected these planes because a tool used to check the same tail component may have given false readings. Britain's queen mother, Queen Elizabeth, turned 100 today. Tens of thousands gathered outside Buckingham Palace to wish her well. They cheered as she rode in a procession from her London home at Clarence House to the palace. The queen mother won the lasting affection of many Britons with her efforts to raise morale during World War II. That's it for the News Summary tonight. Now it's on to Bush and Cheney on the trail, Bush strategist Karl Rove, how well the Republicans got their message across on Philadelphia, Shields and Gigot, and the Library of Congress at 200.
RAY SUAREZ: The Bush/Cheney team leaves Philadelphia and goes on the road. Kwame Holman has our report.
KWAME HOLMAN: A spirited crowd of local Republicans and late-departing convention delegates sat, stood and danced in bright sunshine this morning waiting to give George W. Bush and Dick Cheney a big Philly sendoff. California delegate Joseph Kung was flying home out of Philadelphia International Airport this afternoon, but had time to pump up the crowd gathered here at the city's number two airport, at the other end of town.
JOSEPH KING: We come here because we wanted to have a spiritual lift-off, and we can go back to California to work triple hard.
KWAME HOLMAN: These delegates from Oregon pushed back their departure until tomorrow.
DELEGATE: We're just trying to get a closer look at our next president. We're very excited to be here.
DELEGATE: Same thing. We can't wait to see him close up.
DELEGATE: This is a real added bonus to the trip.
KWAME HOLMAN: It had been only 12 hours since the Republican national 12 hours since the big balloon drop brought the Republicans' national convention to an end. Tens of thousands of red, white, and blue balloons cascaded to the convention floor. Confetti guns responded launching shards of color in the opposite direction as the Bush and Cheney families assembled on stage. Of course, the highlight of the evening for the Republican faithful was the speech.
WINSTON BLOUNT, Alabama Delegate: Dynamite speech. Full of new ideas, full of energy, there's no question this is the leader of our party, and I think that we're going to do very well.
GOV. GEORGE W. BUSH: Mr. Chairman, delegates, and my fellow citizens, I proudly accept your nomination.
KWAME HOLMAN: George W. Bush spoke for 52 minutes and was interrupted by applause almost as many times. He began by paying tribute to his family, particularly his father, the former President.
GOV. GEORGE W. BUSH: All my life I have been amazed that a gentle soul could be so strong. Dad, I am proud to be your son. (Cheers and applause).
KWAME HOLMAN: Bush then directed his speech toward the current President and Vice President.
GOV. GEORGE W. BUSH: For eight years the Clinton-Gore administration has coasted through prosperity. The path of least resistance is always downhill, but America's way is the rising road. This nation is daring and decent and ready for change. (applause and cheers) Our current President embodied the potential of a generation: So many talents, so much charm, such great skill-- but in the end, to what end -- so much promise to no great purpose.
TOM WHATMAN, Ohio Delegate: We all realize what happened during the Clinton years. We're looking ahead. I mean, this is a very positive speech. You know, we want to put the last eight years behind us and look towards the future. I think that's exactly what Governor Bush did tonight: Set a vision for the next eight years.
KWAME HOLMAN: The Texas governor offered solutions for all the problems he accused the current administration of failing to address: Reforms for Social Security, Medicare, the tax code, education.
KWAME HOLMAN: What issues stood out most for you?
RICARDO BARROS, Massachusetts Delegate: Well, honestly the issue that stood out most for me was the issue of education because, you know, affirmative action touched a few people. But what we really need is to make sure every kid in this country gets a shake to one day be a President. So I think that's the most important thing he said, and that's what made me the most enthusiastic.
KWAME HOLMAN: Bush spoke at length about what he called the erosion of U.S. military strength.
GOV. GEORGE W. BUSH: Our military is low on parts, pay and morale. If called on by the commander in chief today, two entire divisions of the army would have to report, "Not ready for duty, sir."
SEN. JEFF SESSIONS, (R) Alabama: Bill Clinton has failed as commander in chief. I think Al Gore has stood with him and defended him on matters that really are indefensible. The strongest, most passionate letters I get are from military people and retired military people who just simply cannot understand how a leader could really betray that truth.
GOV. GEORGE W. BUSH: The world needs America's strength and leadership and America's armed forces need better equipment, better training and better pay. (Cheers and applause) We will give our military the means to keep the peace, and we will give it one thing more: A commander in chief who respects our men and women in uniform, and a commander in chief who earns their respect.
KWAME HOLMAN: One of the most fervent responses came late in the speech to an issue the Clinton-Gore administration and the Republican majority in Congress have clashed over annually.
GOV. GEORGE W. BUSH: Good people can disagree on this issue, but surely we can agree on ways to value life by promoting adoption, parental notification and when Congress sends me a bill against partial birth abortion, I will sign it into law. (Cheers and applause)
KWAME HOLMAN: And Bush took one last parting shot at President Clinton, alluding to his impeachment by the House of Representatives.
GOV. GEORGE W. BUSH: So when I put my hand on the bible, I will swear to not only uphold the laws of our land, I will swear to uphold the honor and dignity of the office to which I have been elected, so help me God. (Cheers and applause)
KWAME HOLMAN: Throughout his speech, George W. Bush took few personal swipes at Al Gore except to link him to the alleged failures of the administration.
KWAME HOLMAN: Governor what's your reaction to your nominee's speech?
GOV. TOMMY THOMSPON, Wisconsin: Exceptional. Absolutely exceptional. He hit the ball out of the park. It was a grand-slam home run. He captured the tenor of this convention but not only that, he captured the tenor of the country. They're thirsting for new leadership. They're looking for new direction. And George W. Bush hit ought the buttons correctly tonight.
SHARON BAMULA, Washington Delegate: A lot of good ideas, a lot of forward-looking things. Good energy. Put little needles in there but did it in a fun way where everybody could laugh and enjoy. The speech was fun. He didn't shy away but he didn't overdo it.
ARMONSTRONG WILLIAMS, Radio Talk Show Host: You can choreograph speeches and looks but you cannot choreograph enthusiasm and the warmth and the energy that is in this place.
KWAME HOLMAN: In contrast to last night, George W. Bush stepped up to the microphone on the tarmac stage this morning with no prepared remarks.
GOV. GEORGE W. BUSH: So we leave this city of brotherly love energized and united and focused on victory. This is a message of ours that we started laying out for the American people to see that, should Dick and I be fortunate enough to earn the will of the people, we'll be the President and Vice President of every citizen, not just a few -- that our job is to bring... is to restore confidence to America, to lift this nation's spirit, to call upon the best of our citizenry. We believe we can do it. We're optimistic people. We believe the great strength of America lies in the hearts and souls of our decent, compassionate, lovingcitizenry. I appreciate the honor to be carrying the banner for the Republican Party. I want to say once again, America, give us a chance. Give us a chance to restore honor to the White House. God bless you all. God bless Pennsylvania, and God bless the greatest land on this earth: America. Thank you very much. (Cheers and applause)
DELEGATE: We will carry California for you.
GOV. GEORGE W. BUSH: Then you're looking at the President.
KWAME HOLMAN: Governor Bush and dick Cheney stayed at the rally for about 15 minutes. Then it was on to their campaign jet and off to Pittsburgh to begin their whistle-stop tour.
RAY SUAREZ: What lies ahead for the Republican ticket? Gwen Ifill talked with Karl Rove last night on the floor of the convention in Philadelphia. He's the chief strategist for the Bush campaign.
GWEN IFILL: Karl Rove, welcome.
KARL ROVE: Thank you.
GWEN IFILL: So now that the convention is over, can you tell us, was this the convention you wanted?
KARL ROVE: Absolutely. This is a fabulous convention. The party leaves here energized and enthusiastic, and they're ready to face the remaining 96 days of the campaign.
GWEN IFILL: Now comes the hard part: How do you build on this?
KARL ROVE: Well, by getting out there and campaigning enthusiastically around the country, with a message that's positive and optimistic. Governor Bush and Dick Cheney will hit the road on Friday-- they've hit the road on Friday. And they will be campaigning across the Midwest and then the West Coast. And they will be talking about reforming education, reforming Social Security, cutting taxes, strengthening defenses, and helping faith and community- based organizations confront the suffering that remains in America. It's a great agenda, it's one that will win in the fall elections, and it's one the American people will applaud and enjoy.
GWEN IFILL: Okay, let's talk turkey-- strategy. What kind of a bounce can you count on coming out of this convention?
KARL ROVE: Well, probably five or six points onto the five or six points that we led by. So we won't know until early next week what the bounce is. But bounces tend to dissipate, so we're going to go up and then we're going to come up down as the Democrats go up. And then we'll probably find ourselves in a very close tight race as of Labor Bay.
GWEN IFILL: So let's talk about how that race shapes up. What states do you have to try to get in November?
KARL ROVE: Well, the great thing for us is that there are a lot of states where Governor Bush is looking terrific today, that we've not won since 1984, 1988. Washington state, Oregon, California, Iowa, Wisconsin, Missouri, Kentucky, Louisiana, Pennsylvania, Ohio, Michigan-- we're looking great in these states, leading the polls. We're very close in the case of California, and yet we haven't won these states for a long time. There's a new poll out in West Virginia, where we are ahead. Every poll this year has had Governor Bush ahead in West Virginia. This is the state that the Republicans last carried in an open race in 1928. So for us, the map is complicated, because the map has so many possibilities. We're ahead in states in New England, we're competitive in states in the mid-Atlantic, we're ahead in Delaware. The South is largely in our camp. The Rocky Mountain and plains states are fabulous for us. But it's going to be an interesting contest, because so much of the country that hasn't voted Republican in the recent elections is available for Governor Bush, and he's leading in most of those states today.
GWEN IFILL: Now so many of... So much of a conventional wisdom has it that the Democrats are about to go negative. Let's talk about the debates for a minute. How do you use that as a way to...
KARL ROVE: Well, let me correct it. They aren't about to, they have gone negative; they have they have bought $24 million worth of advertising, the last two weeks of which have been virtually all negative. They have run this week five negative television ads in 17 states, roughly 72 media markets around the country. They've already gone negative. President Clinton, Vice President Gore are already in full negative mode on Governor Bush and Dick Cheney. So they've already gone negative. They'll keep going negative because that's... they've got an incumbent Vice President, an administration during a time of prosperity. In the 220-some-odd polls that have been conducted since January of 1999, he's never cracked 50% in a single poll.
GWEN IFILL: Do you plan to debate Vice President Gore?
KARL ROVE: I'm confident there will be debates. Obviously, he's hoping for debates. He's a very good debater. He eviscerated Bill Bradley in the primaries. In 1988, when he ran for president, he proved himself to be... Al Gore proved himself to be a tough, competitive debater. So we know that they're risks, but we'll be in debates.
GWEN IFILL: Two debates, three debates, four debates?
KARL ROVE: No decision yet.
GWEN IFILL: So the conventional wisdom also has it that you lifted several pages from the Bill Clinton play book at the convention this week.
KARL ROVE: We think we wrote our own.
GWEN IFILL: "It's time for them to go"?
KARL ROVE: Well, it was a nice line, and we thought it had such resonance. My favorite line of the speech, however, was "they came in together, now we will see them out together."
GWEN IFILL: And how will you go about doing that really?
KARL ROVE: Well, we're going to have to run a campaign that's based upon the issues. We're going to have to lay out a bold agenda to the American people, which we have been doing. I mean, every delegate is leaving here tonight with a 476- page book of the governor's policy speeches and white papers. We're going to run a campaign on the issues, these five big issues that we talked about a moment ago: Education, Social Security, Medicare, defense, poverty, and tax cuts. And we're going to be talking about that endlessly for the next 12 weeks.
GWEN IFILL: Are you going to have some fences to mend with in your own party? There are some disgruntled conservatives at this convention. I even hear, however, that the governor is going to the ranch with John McCain after this convention.
KARL ROVE: Look, we enter the general election in an enviable position. We have the Republican Party strongly united behind Governor Bush. And you may find the people who are not happy with their seat assignments here, but the party as a whole is enthusiastic and united in a way that the Democrats are envious, and we're sort of surprised. It's been great.
GWEN IFILL: What about the role of Laura Bush? Has she become the anti-Hillary or is that dangerous?
KARL ROVE: Well, she becomes Laura Bush. She's not anti-anybody; she's Laura Bush. She's a unique person. You saw the speech on Monday night, it was magnificent, and that's only the second time that she's every addressed a large crowd like this. This woman in 1993 and 1994 never gave a single political speech. So for her to burst on the scene like she did on Monday was great and a terrific asset for us. But she'll make a great First Lady for America; she's a teacher, she's a librarian. Her focus will be on reading and the campaign and on education-- and that will be her focus if her husband is elected President.
GWEN IFILL: So coming out of Philadelphia, you only have a few more months to make your point. You've got some key debates, you have some key points that you have to... What, in a nutshell, do you have to do in these next few months?
KARL ROVE: Reassure people that Governor Bush understands the need to change the tone in Washington. That he is a person who is what they think he is-- a strong leader who's a different kind of Republican, who will move America in the direction that they'd like to see.
GWEN IFILL: Karl Rove, thank you very much.
KARL ROVE: Thanks, Gwen.
RAY SUAREZ: Still to come on the NewsHour tonight, the nominating convention as spectacle and communication, Shields and Gigot, and the Library of Congress.
JIM LEHRER: The Republican National Convention as political theater and as television spectacle. How well did it work for the GOP? And to media correspondent Terence Smith.
TERENCE SMITH: So how did it play? We'll talk about the convention's message and how it was conveyed with three observers who were in Philadelphia. Kathleen Hall Jamieson, dean of the Annenberg School for Communication at the university of Pennsylvania; Clarence Page, NewsHour essayist and a "Chicago Tribune" columnist; Frank Luntz, a Republican pollster who monitored a focus group of swing voters for MSNBC during the convention and David Gergen, editor at large at "U.S. News & World Report," who is also a professor of public service at the Harvard University's Kennedy School of Government.
Welcome to you all. Frank, you spent the week gauging public reaction to the convention with a focus group. What did you find?
FRANK LUNTZ: Well, any time you spend four hours a night with 36 people over five nights, you really get to know them quite well. (Laughter) These were people who walked in, and they were Clinton voters in 1996. They leaned every so slightly towards George Bush. We wanted to understand what made them tick, what would move them. Several key findings: Number one, Bush scored very highly on education and Social Security, traditional Democratic issues. Number two, anyone who issues an attack, even a seeming attack, is going to be criticized. We're into this politics of pleasantry in America today, and they want to keep their politicians on the up and up. Number three, you've got to be sincere. One of the low points of the entire four days was when John McCain, who otherwise delivered a great speech, spoke about how proud he was of George Bush. He could have used a lot of other adjectives. Pride was not one that these people responded to. And number four, after seeing all of this, all four nights and the key speeches, George Bush had one heck of a bounce. This really was a home run for him.
TERENCE SMITH: Kathleen Hall Jamieson, does that sound like the convention you attended?
KATHLEEN HALL JAMIESON: Well, after 16 hours of exposure, Frank has the most atypical group of voters in the country. Indeed, they saw more of the convention than any reporter, pundit, or academic probably did, and swing voters, after all, are called swing voters for a reason. This is what you expect when people who are undecided are exposed to large amounts of communication on one side. I wouldn't read too much into it. I think what was important about the convention was that four major issues emerged: Military preparedness and tax cuts, traditionally Republican issues, on which there are serious issue distinctions with the Democrats. Education and Social Security, also serious distinctions. And two issues that weren't focused on also have distinctions, abortion rights -- big difference between the two parties here, mentioned primarily in the prayers that introduced and closed the conventions; and guns and gun control, also largely unmentioned except in some of the roll call of the states. So four issues that are clearly going to be contested, two issues that are at play but haven't been addressed much by the Republicans, but they are also issues. Those, by the way, were not largely the focus of today's press coverage, and there's more total exposure to press coverage than to the convention, which means that some of those scenes got dampened down today instead of reinforced. That's too bad.
TERENCE SMITH: Clarence Page, from your perspective watching it, do you think the Republicans successfully conveyed the message they wanted to send?
CLARENCE PAGE: I think they did. I would put everything onto those two big speeches at the end, Cheney's speech and Bush's speech. Everything else was pageantry leading up to it, all warm, in fact. And Kathleen is of course correct that few people were watching relative to other years, but somebody's watching and somebody's going to be voting. So among those who did watch, I think the party accomplished what they wanted to. They brought Cheney out in the traditional attack dog role, which he played and helped to solidify the Republican base and give those delegates something to take back home with them, some red meat, if you will. We've used that corny phrase now. But Bush came out as the good cop and conveyed this compassionate conservative slogan, but put some meat on the bones now. For months people have been asking, "well, what does that mean?" It's a great oxymoron, like jumbo shrimp. Now he was showing what it means. It means you take a liberal agenda that Bobby Kennedy would have been comfortable with, and attach conservative remedies to it. And this is something that... you know, Jack Kemp called it bleeding heart conservatism -- could hardly get a hearing under the elder Bush's White House. But now, in this current climate, where George W. is trying to reach out, and that, I think is going to play very well.
TERENCE SMITH: David Gergen, do you get a picture of the strategy or of the campaign from the convention?
DAVID GERGEN: I think you do. And I must say, I emerged from this closer to the Frank Luntz' view of what happened in this convention. If this convention did not win the election for George Bush, I believe it came very close. I think Al Gore now has his work cut out for him to catch up. And as you look back at the convention, it was orchestrated in a way that I don't think many of us fully understood in the beginning. The first two nights were very warm and fuzzy, very soft. Somebody called it the vegetarian convention, because there was no red meat anywhere. (Laughter) And then the third night you had Cheney who came in to energize the base, and perhaps turned off some of the moderate or independent voters. But the fourth night, it seems to me what happened was that Bush was able very successfully to draw upon those warm feelings, the inclusiveness, the number of blacks and minorities on stage, and then as Clarence said, add substance to that. And it really helped to set... those first two nights helped to set him up, and he gave credibility to the message. And what we're seeing in the polls-- there are a number of polls floating around, and we really won't know where the poll numbers are probably until about Sunday when it settles back down again-- but the early indications are that he got much more of a bounce than anybody expected, and he could be up as much as 15 to 18 points ahead.
TERENCE SMITH: Which would be remarkable.
TERENCE SMITH: Frank, what was the reaction of the people that you had captive there to the question of whether or not George W. Bush is "presidential"?
FRANK LUNTZ: There was no doubt. I mean, when they walked in... I'll agree with Kathleen on one point. Only one of the 36 people said they would actually have watched this if they weren't gathered into a room to watch it. So these swing voters really don't care much about it. But that being said, that public yawning became a public yearning after the Dick Cheney speech because Cheney at least grabbed their attention. Then they go to George Bush. They wanted answers from him on education, Social Security, Medicare, and particularly prescription drugs, and they got those answers. Now, we might say as pundits that while he wasn't specific enough, but part of the NBC coverage was to put a focus on people, rather than punditry, and those viewers there felt they got what they were looking for.
TERENCE SMITH: Kathleen, do you get a picture of the campaign that's coming up?
KATHLEEN HALL JAMIESON: One of the important functions of a convention is to introduce the candidates to the electorate. And to the extent that we don't simply vote on issues, we also vote on our sense of these candidates, their trustworthiness, their integrity, whether or not they have the stature to assume the office. I think that there's great benefit here to the Republicans because I think that both Cheney and Bush accomplished that and accomplished that well. And I think you see it also in the sound bites that are being lifted from their speeches. I think that we need to be cautious and evaluating the effect of the convention until the effect of second- and third- day news coverage settles in and word of mouth settles in as well. There's a very interesting phenomenon at play in conventions. The American people use them in part as a marker that says that it's now time to be more serious about the election and to begin evaluating one's position. By the end of most second party conventions, most voters' opinions have locked in to the extent that we can begin to see a coherent electorate. It's not really there yet, but it's forming, and that's a very important function. And I think we're going to see that by the end of the Democratic Convention, the people who have dispositions now have a little bit more firmly anchored on each side and part of function of the fact that there's simply a signal here that it's time to do that.
TERENCE SMITH: Clarence Page, what do you think Democrats have to do to arrest the process that David Gergen is talking about?
CLARENCE PAGE: Well, my memo to Al Gore would say that, "okay. Declare a victory of sorts, because George W. Bush has bought Clintonism, if not Clinton." In other words, Bill Clinton in 1992 did exactly this in reverse. He got his Democrats together. They wanted to win, and therefore the factionalism kind of faded while he worked on outreach to moderate voters. George W. is doing the same thing in the other direction now. And so the question is not what do we want too, it's how do we want to do it? Al Gore now has to talk about the danger of vouchers from his point of view. He has to talk about the dangers of what he calls "risky schemes" involving Social Security, although, he's got to watch using that term now, because George w. made such...
TERENCE SMITH: Made such fun of it.
CLARENCE PAGE: Made such fun of it, and did a pretty good job of that. But also, the attacks, I think, his group certainly shows us that attack ads, attack politics have got to be use carefully this time around. Voters seem to be reacting to that more negatively than before. But I still expect to see a nasty campaign, Terry. I think it's going to get down some ads and some third-party ads, et cetera, that are going to get pretty vicious.
TERENCE SMITH: David Gergen, I want to make sure that I heard you right, that on August 4th of the year 2000, you're sitting here saying you're all but giving it to George W. Bush?
DAVID GERGEN: I think he has the commanding heights in this election right now. I don't think it's over. I think that the Democrats are in a hole, and they've... I think Kathleen Hall Jamieson is absolutely right. The Democrats can't afford to let opinion now crystallize in the way it has over the last 24 hours, as it's started to move towards Bush. They've got to come back very swiftly. I think Al Gore now is doing precisely the right thing by going forward with his vice presidential nominee very quickly. But he's got to use his Democratic convention to get at least the bounce that George W. Bush did. He needs to be within five points or so, five or six points going into Labor Day, or it's going to be a very tough election. How does he do that? That's the hard question. What does he do during that convention?
FRANKL LUNTZ: He's never been a good finesse politician. I mean, one of the things we found here is that that Reagan language of the 1980's, where you tell the "Reader's Digest" stories, 30 seconds of families that overcame some sort of tragedy, every time one of those stories were told by anyone there, it was negative. But the moment they got to the substance, they got a positive reaction. Lynn Cheney, speaking about her husband loving fly fishing-- who hates fly fishing? Well, apparently our swing voters do, because they reacted so negatively.
TERENCE SMITH: They're all Philadelphians, though, aren't they? (Laugh
FRANKL LUNTZ: They just hate flies. And yet, every time that Bush spoke about what shod have been a Democratic issue-- Social Security, education, Medicare, prescription drugs-- every time, it went through the roof. And then when they were done, we had en African American Democrats-- longtime Democrats-- saying, "this is a guy I can vote for. He's presidential, he knows what he's doing, he's got..." They didn't speak of character or personality. They spoke of issues and of vision.
DAVID GERGEN: Let me cover exactly e thing I think it's really important now for the Democrats to do. They cannot let the Republicans get away with the argument, which essentially Bush got away with last night: "Well, we've had all this economic progress, well, it's really a piffle, it doesn't mean very much because we're not trying to do anything with it." They've got come back and say, "this was hard work. We have come a long way in the 1990's." Let's go back to what it was at the beginning of the 1990's and walk us through the economic changes and the changes in social indicators. That's really critical, and then they can go on the attack and point out the differences. If they concede that argument, about the economic gains, it's over.
TERENCE SMITH: Okay. I'm sorry to say that we have to leave it there. Kathleen, all of you, thanks very much.
RAY SUAREZ: Now, someclosing thoughts on the past political week and a look ahead. Margaret Warner is with Shields and Gigot.
MARGARET WARNER: And that's syndicated columnist Mark Shields and "Wall Street Journal" columnist Paul Gigot.
So, Paul what do you think this convention and Bush's speech last night did to the dynamic of this race?
PAUL GIGOT: I think it left Bush in a strong position, Margaret, maybe even a dominant one even at this early stage of the election. I think it did two things for Bush: One is it lifted him personally. It made a lot of people comfortable with him, thinking of him as a President. Poll Ballot Ground -- a Voter.Com survey had his favorable rating at 67/26 after this. That matters a lot more than these bounces which are really ephemeral, but that personal underpinning of what people think of him, that's lasting, and that will make it possible for him to withstand some of the attacks that are coming. The other thing he did was he reached out on - basically reached into the Democratic citadel on issues. One of the clich s of this race is that Democrats had an advantage because it was their issues that were dominating the discussion. But it turns out that Bush is making real in-roads on education and Social Security, less so on health care, but Social Security and education, I me, it's remarkable. No Republican that I can think of has been at parity with the Democratic presidential -- on those issues ever. And Bush finds himself, I think he's winning the education argument. Social Security there's a debate to be fought out. But one of the most effective parts of that speech was that part on Social Security. He helped himself this week.
MARGARET WARNER: What do you think this did to the landscape of the race?
MARK SHIELDS: I think the convention certainly helped Governor Bush. I think it helped the Republican Party, helped Governor Bush more. It was more of a Bush convention than it was a Republican Convention. I was watching him last night. All I could think of was a quote of Helmut Kohl, the former German chancellor, who dominated this country's politics for a generation. He said I've been underestimated for decades. (Laughing) And things have gone very well. He had been. There's no question. A friend of his from Texas said that usually the larger the room, the smaller George Bush appears. He's a very good politician one on one. He charms people in small groups but he's never... the debates he did poorly. He's never been good in a big room. Last night he was in a big room, the biggest room of his life and he did well.
MARGARET WARNER: Now, do you agree with Paul that the Gore forces have reason to be worried that the Bush forces have decided to play on Democratic turf on some of these issues?
MARK SHIELDS: I think that it played properly on those issues. I think the Democrats have to do well on them eventually. I think it's a daring move on George Bush's part. I do think there were just two places where George Bush perhaps left himself and the Republicans open. One is by the concentration, it was, I thought, very well done. There was no mention of Ted Kennedy. There was no mention of union bosses. There was no mention of environmental extremists.
MARGARET WARNER: All the staples.
MARK SHIELDS: All the staples. No mention of Hollywood liberals; it was very single and very single-minded, it went after Bill Clinton and Al Gore as well and the scandals, the embarrassment, however you want to put it. It did put the focus on the past eight years, just as David Gergen pointed out in the previous piece. For that reasonI think it opens that up for legitimate discussion. The last time we had a Bush in the White House, African-American unemployment was twice as high as it is today. Hispanic unemployment was twice as high as it is. We had the biggest surplus - the biggest deficit in the nation's history; now the biggest surplus. I think that was a potential mistake for them. But I don't think there's any question coming out that he had a big, big advantage for one simple reason: That is, he went into this convention with an enthusiastic, united base of his party and he was ten points ahead in the polls. And Al Gore goes into a convention without a united, enthusiastic base of his party, and he's ten points behind in the polls.
MARGARET WARNER: Let me pick up on one thing that Mark mentioned that Karl Rove said in the interview with Gwen. He said that he - his favorite line in Cheney's speech is they came in together - meaning Gore and Clinton - we'll see them go out together. Do you think the Bush forces are putting too much on this Clinton connection as a sort of leg of their strategy?
PAUL GIGOT: No. I think they have to. I think they're pinning - they're pinning their strategy on the dichotomy between Bill Clinton's job approving rating, which is high, and, as Mark said, it's tied to the prosperity and peace that we enjoy. But they're zeroing in on the vulnerability, which is his personal disapproval rating, the unhappiness that people have with the presidency, the linking between Gore and Clinton on ethics. They have to go at it. You have to make a case for change, Margaret. That's the place where voters have been unhappy. They don't have a choice on that. If they didn't do that, they would find themselves in a very difficult situation because well, then why not keep on going with what we have?
MARK SHIELDS: Paul raises I think the key point in the Bush strategy which is an interesting one. It stands in stark contrast to Gerry Ford's race in 1976. Gerry Ford -- the country was in bad shape. Inflation was bad. Unemployment was up. He had pardoned President Nixon. And his campaign was one that contrasted him with the Nixon years by never mentioning Nixon. It said, "I'm feeling good about America." That was it. It was a great slogan.
MARGARET WARNER: That's the first time you've ever broken into song.
MARK SHIELDS: It was very upbeat, it was very upbeat. The point was by all earthly indicia, people weren't feeling good about America but feeling good about Gerry Ford. This is the opposite. Now we're saying things are terrific in this country. It's time for a change. That's tricky politically because people feel the prosperity. They feel the peace. They feel a sense that Clinton has done a good job. They're saying now it's time for a change and they throw in one little curve ball and that is Bill Clinton and Al Gore haven't done enough. Now we've been told that Democrats are intrusive. They're everywhere. They're always meddling in everything. Now they haven't done enough.
PAUL GIGOT: They're linking the failure of character and ethics - they're linking it to a failure of achievement. So it allows Bush to make the link between that and I will fix Social Security. I will do something on Medicare. I will get a tax cut done, the gridlock in Washington -- I'll transcend it.
MARGARET WARNER: All right. Let's look at one other thing. Again as Rove's interview indicated, the Republicans really think they have Gore in a box on this question of tone. Do you think they do?
PAUL GIGOT: Yeah. I think they've got him in other boxes too. Gore has a couple of dilemmas. I don't have any good advice for how he gets out of them. One is he has to energize his base which is a bit sullen right now. At the same time he has got to reach out to swing voters that he's losing by double digits to George Bush. You reach out to your base with partisan attacks, rallying the base, soak the rich, you know, big oil and that sort of thing. That might turn off some of these swing voters. The other dilemma he has is he wants to take credit, as Mark says, for the 1990s, wants to say times are great, we did it all. At the same time he has to declare some kind of independence from Bill Clinton, from that underside of the Clinton years. How you do that is very, very tricky. Now he might be able to do that with a vice presidential choice. Let's say he picks a Joe Lieberman of Connecticut, one of the first and only Democrats to come out and declare... to criticize the President during the Monica Lewinsky episode.
MARGARET WARNER: You mean, that sort of buys him that distance he's looking for.
PAUL GIGOT: Yeah. A lot of reporters, if he picks Lieberman, the press will say exactly that, and that might allow him then to use his convention to rally the base and to begin what is going to be the Dresden firebombing of George W. Bush.
MARGARET WARNER: So what about this? Can Gore use the same tactics on Bush that he used, say, on Bill Bradley, the Dresden firing bombing, whatever you want to call it?
MARK SHIELDS: Dresden firebombing, I think, may be a new height in hyperbole. It's been a long week.
PAUL GIGOT: Wait. Just watch. Just watch.
MARK SHIELDS: We've spent a lot of time together. This is known in the business, this is known in the trade as discounting. It's what Karl Rove did beautifully in his interview with Gwen. It was a very good interview. He said Al Gore is going to get this huge bounce out of the Democratic convention. Therefore you discount. You say look here comes the October surprise. Here comes the Dresden firebombing. I think Al Gore has a problem, Margaret. There's no question about it. He has to establish, as all Vice Presidents do, that independence especially with this President. He has to get Bill Clinton off the stage in a way that serves that sense of independence. It may be a vice presidential choice. It may be a declaration on policy where he is different. George Bush, you recall in 1988 when he was running for vice president, said he was first gentler, kinder. Now that upset the base of his own party because they said wait a minute you're saying the gipper was mean and not kind?
PAUL GIGOT: As Nancy Reagan said kinder and gentler than who?
MARGARET WARNER: But, Mark, are you saying Gore doesn't run any risk if he goes really on the attack when you have Bush playing Sunny Jim?
MARK SHIELDS: I think the other point where Bush opened himself up was he talked so much about Texas. He established his roots. The film was very good. but he's now given us two points of attack, if you're looking at it that way. You say you've got the eight years and you've got his Texas record. And he talks about how well he's worked; he's played well with Democrats and Republicans down there. They get along. I mean, Bob Bullock, the former lieutenant governor, was almost eulogized at the convention. So I think that's now open. A Dresden firebombing is in the eyes of the beholder, not necessarily the property owner in Dresden, in other words. Does he go after him and say this what he says, we'll leave no child behind. How many children have been left behind in Texas without health care, without adequate housing, I mean, in this incredibly prosperous state? How has Texas used its prosperity? He talks about prosperity with purpose. Is that firebombing or is that just holding somebody accountable....
PAUL GIGOT: Analogies aside, Al Gore is not going to win this election unless he raises big, big doubts about George Bush. I mean, the 67% favorable rating, he can't allow that to survive. So it' going to be a pretty rough-and-tumble race.
MARGARET WARNER: Very briefly, Mark, how do you see his options next week for vice presidential choice, Gore's?
MARK SHIELDS: Slim. I mean, the Democrats have a very weak farm system. I mean, if there's going to be, you know, a commentary on the Clinton years, I mean, you look at the possibilities. I mean, the Republicans had more interesting possibilities to choose than do the - that's governors, for one thing. I mean, there aren't any other than Gray Davis and Jim Hunt in major states - there aren't any Democratic governors. I think, again, you do the declaration if independence either substantively which I think is better, or just symbolically through a vice presidential choice. And probably the one that would make the most change would be Bob Kerrey, the Senator from Nebraska, who now is not on anybody's short list. So I guess it's easy to say he would be a bold choice.
PAUL GIGOT: There are two choices that scare Republicans: Joe Lieberman and Bob Kerrey because they would break the mold. And there are people who are not typical Democrats. They are seen as bipartisan people. And they differed with Bill Clinton.
MARGARET WARNER: All right. Thank you both very much. Have a great weekend.
MARK SHIELDS: Thank you.
RAY SUAREZ: It's not your average library, and recently, I had the chance see why. Here is that report.
RAY SUAREZ: To the strains of Aaron Copeland's "Fanfare for the Common Man," the Library of Congress celebrated its 200th birthday this year. There was a day-long party on the mall, a tribute to American living legends, including Sesame Street's Big Bird, and a special exhibit honoring the library's hero, Thomas Jefferson. Originally conceived as a library just for Congress, which was housed in the capitol building, the purpose and scope of the library has grown dramatically in the last two centuries. It is the largest library in the world, with nearly 119 million items. Items: Letters, maps, paintings, manuscripts, prints, photos, films, comic books and cookbooks. You name it. On the main floor is a rare and revered 15th century Gutenberg Bible. But not too far away are two new exhibits: One on the American classic, "The Wizard of Oz"; and the other, the "Bob Hope Gallery of Entertainment," with 88,000 of Hope's jokes available on a jukebox. We recently visited the Library of Congress escorted by its librarian, Dr. James Billington. We started in the great hall of the Thomas Jefferson building. Somebody wanted to make this place beautiful, not just useful. So what's the idea behind that?
DR. JAMES BILLINGTON, Library of Congress: Well, the idea is basically, this building is going to include everything, just like the library. That's the four seasons. You don't see much snow unless the white is snow. It's not just kind of classical figures like this or the three graces who are up on the ceiling. In the end you expect to find something else. What do you find? You find American baseball. It looks like classical antiquity. It looks the Greek Olympics. But if you look closer, you see it's baseball that was just emerging at that time.
RAY SUAREZ: "Tongues in trees, books in the running brooks, sermons in stone, and good in everything." This place is like a sermon in stone. Useful little quotes and little sayings and fragments of things, but it's not sort of shoved down your throat like chopped kale. It's almost fun.
DR. JAMES BILLINGTON: It is. Here's prudence and temperance, lovely feminine figures reminding us of some of the virtues that were valued at the end of the last century.
RAY SUAREZ: By marking the 200th anniversary of the library now, I guess you've got in mind a date that you can really say, this is when it all began.
DR. JAMES BILLINGTON: Well, it's first day was from John Adams on April 24, 1800, signed the bill creating the Library of Congress. Then it was recreated after the British occupied Washington and burned the original by purchasing Thomas Jefferson's library, which was the largest private library at the time of independence, to being the largest library in the world.
RAY SUAREZ: I think the early 19th century worthies who helped get the library going would recognize and understand right off the bat why Thomas Jefferson's library is valuable. Across this arc of two centuries, they'd walk into that room and get it right away. But Bob Hope's jokes and L. Frank Baum's children's stories might not have been what they had in mind in 1800 when they got this thing going. How did your mission grow over time?
DR. JAMES BILLINGTON: Well, it grew because of American creativity. Remember, John Adams wrote this famous letter to his wife. He said we have studied war and diplomacy so that our children can study mathematics and Philosophy, and our grandchildren the arts. There was always a sense, right from the beginning, of America that we had to make some sacrifices, but that this was going to be a very creative people. Frank Baum, Bob Hope-- well, humor is another constant, but it's developed so richly in America and the American popular stage. We have also assumed a rather new obligation for the library, which is that think in keeping the Jeffersonian idea more knowledge for more people so they could use it in more ways -- to use the electronic possibilities to get our most interesting and important elements of American history, the project we call American Memory, out free on the Internet to schools, colleges and to homes. And for our 200th birthday we put on a new web site designed for families, designed for everybody called America's library.Gov.
RAY SUAREZ: Billington and I then walked into the library's main reading room. Tell me about this room.
DR. JAMES BILLINGTON: Well, it's one of the great interior spaces in America, maybe even in the world. It's the general reading room where everybody can come. You can plug in your laptop as well as get books and you can be inspired by the space, by the imagery, and just the sense that somehow everything comes together, just the way the architecture and the statuary does.
RAY SUAREZ: And it really pulls together a lot of the ideas that you've been talking about in the rest of the library-- the fact that the world, the knowledge of the world comes here, because the world is acknowledged on the ceiling as having had a hand in creating American civilization.
DR. JAMES BILLINGTON: Yes. All the different parts of antiquity, the middle ages, Islam, various contributors to human understanding, ring around the Goddess of Human Understanding herself. And of course, the image of Lincoln with a dynamo is the one that represents America. A young Lincoln, a young vigorous Lincoln, the way we imagine America to be at the end of the last century.
RAY SUAREZ: So when we come in here on a regular day and everything is open and up, who are the people who are working at these desks?
DR. JAMES BILLINGTON: You'll have people doing theses for courses, seminars, and doctoral theses, a lot of students, you have a lot of retired people who are developing new intellectual interests, you have people who want to read something about finding a new job or how to repair their automobile. If you've got a legitimate question or research interest, why we're the public library of the United States.
RAY SUAREZ: Billington then showed me a collection of various treasures owned by the Library of Congress showing both the "gee whiz" gems, and priceless milestones of human knowledge and curiosity.
RAY SUAREZ: So what are we looking at?
DR. JAMES BILLINGTON: Here we have what's really the first modern travel book. It's a pilgrimage to Jerusalem, which is of course an old medieval theme from the 1480's. Huge panoramic picture of the Holy Land. It's a the first sort of, in a way, modern map; this is a map of New York from about 1630's, very shortly, the first Dutch settlement, the cartographer of the Dutch West Indies Company, and you have Manhattan Island. It's seen a different way than it usually is. There are windmills illustrated here, boweries which were little farms. Manhattan looked like a pretty peaceful bucolic place. And some of the names like Staten Island and Hellgate were actually on the original - in the original Dutch versions -
RAY SUAREZ: Coney Island.
DR. JAMES BILLINGTON: Coney island. There it is. No roller coasters. Now this is an interesting one as well. The first Japanese delegation that came to Washington, 81 people came in 1858, 1860, and they recorded in their record of the picture of what Washington looked like. It looks like an oriental painting. There's the Washington Monument, only half built. The capitol building looms high on Capitol Hill, but it all looks... It's sort of an American city as seen from Japanese eyes -- before Japan was opened up to the West at all. This is the ending of probably this is the ending of probably one of the greatest American orations ever given, Lincoln's second inaugural address. He says it was a war - all dreaded it, all sought to avert it. He has no prediction of when its going to end, but he says, "Fondly do we hope, fervently do we pray that this mighty scourge of war may pass away.
RAY SUAREZ: He was dead six weeks later.
DR. JAMES BILLINGTON: And he was dead very shortly thereafter. This is tinkers to evers to chance, the famous double-play combination. These are the saddest of works "tinkers to evers to chance, turning the giants hit into a double, words that are fraught with nothing but trouble, tinkers to evers to chance." This is what was F.B. Adams wrote about the world's most famous double-word play combination. This is the original piano and vocal score of "Porgy and Bess," and this is the score that George Gershwin played on the piano himself as he was trying to persuade Todd Duncan to take the role of Porgy. This is the great train robbery of 1803, the first western movie ever made. It was made in northern New Jersey, but we don't worry about that too much. So anyhow, these are a few of the... This is only the tip of a very large iceberg, but it gives you some idea of the variety of formats and the variety of ways in which knowledge and creativity has been both recorded and preserved here.
RAY SUAREZ: And the centuries, and the languages, and wow, it's just really something.
DR. JAMES BILLINGTON: And the white gloves.
RAY SUAREZ: And the white gloves.
DR. JAMES BILLINGTON: So that we keep these things.
RAY SUAREZ: As part of its 200 birthday, the Thomas Jefferson Exhibit will be open through October 31 at the Library of Congress. In case you miss it, there are more than 25,000 of Jefferson's papers currently available on its web site.
RAY SUAREZ: Again, the major stories of this Friday. George W. Bush and Dick Cheney began a whistle-stop campaign tour following the Republican convention. Vice President Gore challenged the Republicans' call for "prosperity with a purpose." And former President Ford continued to improve from the effects of one or two small strokes. We'll see you online, and again here Monday evening. Have a great weekend. I'm Ray Suarez. Thanks and good night.
The NewsHour with Jim Lehrer
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Episode Description
This episode's headline: Up and Running; Winning Ways; How Did it Play; Political Wrap; National Treasure. ANCHOR: JIM LEHRER; GUESTS: KARL ROVE, Bush Strategist; KATHLEEN HALL JAMIESON, Annenberg School for Communication; FRANK LUNTZ, Republican Pollster; DAVID GERGEN, U.S. News & World Report; CLARENCE PAGE, Chicago Tribune; ARK SHIELDS; PAUL GIGOT; DR. JAMES BILLINGTON, Library of Congress; CORRESPONDENTS: FRED DE SAM LAZARO; BETTY ANN BOWSER; SUSAN DENTZER; RAY SUAREZ; SPENCER MICHELS; MARGARET WARNER; GWEN IFILL; TERENCE SMITH; KWAME HOLMAN
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Chicago: “The NewsHour with Jim Lehrer,” 2000-08-04, NewsHour Productions, American Archive of Public Broadcasting (GBH and the Library of Congress), Boston, MA and Washington, DC, accessed March 2, 2024,
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