- The Washington Times - Wednesday, August 2, 2000


The Republican road to the White House, Richard Nixon once observed long ago, ran to the right during the primary season and then to the center for the general election. Breaking with that strategy, Texas Gov. George W. Bush initially sought to "run for the center" before an unexpectedly strong challenge by Sen. John McCain forced Mr. Bush to veer right during the primaries. However, since capturing the GOP nomination and consolidating the party's base in the process Mr. Bush has made extraordinary efforts to appeal to the center of the political spectrum and to constituencies not usually associated with Republicans.
That should come as no surprise. Mr. Bush, it's worth remembering, won re-election as Texas governor in 1998 by capturing 70 percent of the vote, including nearly 50 percent of the Hispanic vote and nearly 30 percent of the black vote. According to the National Journal's Convention Daily, only two of the 18 speakers at Monday night's session were white, Christian males; the others were Latinos, African Americans, Jews or women.
The two headline speakers on Monday the governor's wife, Laura Bush, and retired Gen. Colin Powell delivered mostly uplifting speeches that promoted the successes Mr. Bush has achieved in reforming Texas education. Gen. Powell noted that the number of students passing all parts of the Texas standardized tests had increased by 51 percent since 1994, including an increase of 89 percent among minority students. Such a record made Mr. Powell's much-publicized convention comments that the "party of Lincoln has not always carried the mantle of Lincoln" sound not just discordant but unwarranted. By holding persons to the same standards regardless of skin color, Mr. Bush and the party of Lincoln have gotten achievement from minorities that other, less-demanding organizations have not. Republicans need not apologize for doing so.
Earlier Monday, Mr. Bush's party held a rather remarkable reception honoring Teamster President James P. Hoffa, whose corrupt predecessor had been one of the Clinton-Gore administration's strongest labor allies. Mr. Hoffa, whom Republicans would welcome with open arms into their "Big Tent," said he would make his endorsement decision by Labor Day. The 1.5 million member Teamsters union plays a pivotal role in the strategic electoral states of Michigan, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Illinois and Missouri.
With a recent Time/CNN poll revealing a 16-point advantage for Mr. Bush over Vice President Gore on the eve of the GOP's inclusiveness convention, the Democratic Party reacted in a desperate fashion by shattering the traditional silence that the parties have given each other during the conventions. Against the Republicans' positive themes of unity and inclusiveness, the Democrats have launched a multimillion-dollar, 17-state attack campaign against Republican vice presidential candidate Richard Cheney. Voters will have a chance to compare the Democrats' blistering ad blitz with Mr. Cheney's steadied, confident composure that will be on display tonight.

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