- The Washington Times - Wednesday, August 2, 2000

PHILADELPHIA District of Columbia Mayor Anthony A. Williams could not find enough good things to say about Republicans yesterday.

Hosting a well-attended lunch reception at the Republican National Convention yesterday, Mr. Williams praised and was praised by leaders of the Republican establishment and members of the D.C. delegation to the convention.

"I speak as a Democrat in saying I think you've done a good job of being very, very hospitable to all of us, being very, very open, being very, very inclusive," said Mr. Williams, who attended the Monday night session and sat in the box of Jim Nicholson, Republican National Committee chairman.

Virginia Gov. James S. Gilmore III shared some love of his own with members of Maryland's delegation as he spoke to a packed room on behalf of Texas Gov. George W. Bush's presidential campaign.

At his reception yesterday, Mr. Williams joked about the strange bedfellows: "Someone asked me why I was here. One person thought I was here because my car broke down in Philadelphia, another person thought I was here because they thought I was a spy for the Democrats."

He then began speaking into his wrist as if he were wired: "Yeah, this is 509 to 508, come in… . It actually looks pretty good. Right wing militias? Haven't seen any gun-toting militias. Pat Buchanan? No, haven't seen Pat Buchanan. No, it looks pretty good."

Republicans were unanimous in praising Mr. Williams for hosting the reception. Among the Republican dignitaries attending were Mr. Nicholson; Oklahoma Rep. Ernest Istook, chairman of the House Appropriations subcommittee for the District; his Senate counterpart, Texas Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison; and Maryland Reps. Wayne T. Gilchrest and Constance A. Morella. Virginia Rep. Thomas M. Davis III, who heads another D.C. oversight subcommittee, didn't show, but members of his staff made it.

Mr. Gilmore's appearance with the Maryland delegation was about as saccharine.

"I just love to come to Maryland and be a part of everything you are doing," Mr. Gilmore said.

Maryland's delegation even gave Mr. Gilmore a free pass during the audience questions, sticking to national security, rather than badgering him about some of the differences he's had with Maryland over the Chesapeake Bay, the Woodrow Wilson Bridge and proposals to build another bridge across the Potomac.

"We like him very much. He's been very, very supportive of the Maryland Republican Party, he's made himself available. He's a real, true friend," said Audrey E. Scott, a member of the Prince George's County Council.

Maryland has one of the most active delegations at the convention, and its delegates put the Virginia delegation to shame on Monday night with their enthusiasm.

Virginia's section is right in front of Maryland's, and during speeches from Laura Bush and retired Gen. Colin Powell, the Virginians politely applauded in their seats while the Marylanders were all but standing on their chairs.

The Virginians "never get up. We kept saying, 'Get up,' " said Mrs. Scott, who has played head cheerleader for the Maryland delegation.

Maryland also saved the day for the carefully planned television coverage by playing Wyoming for a day.

When vice-presidential nominee Richard B. Cheney and his wife, Lynne, arrived at their seats, the Wyoming section of the convention floor was almost empty. So someone drafted part of Maryland's delegation to sit in those seats, Mrs. Scott said.

"He's pointing to us like we're his best friends, and we're waving and pointing back," she said.

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