- The Washington Times - Thursday, August 3, 2000

Second term

Inside the Beltway has caught up with former President George Bush, now happily settled in Houston, asking him if those of us remaining in Washington would see more of him come January?
"No!" Mr. Bush replied, obviously still sore about losing to Bill Clinton in 1992.
Then he realized our question had taken on a new meaning.
"Oh, wait a minute. After January? the proud dad said with a smile. "Maybe!"Costly pageant
What does it cost to throw a national convention like this one in Philadelphia?
"Fifty million dollars," reveals a top consultant to this and past Republican conventions.
That doesn't include another $13.4 million in pocket change that taxpayers earmarked (the little box one has the option of checking on their tax forms), to Republicans and Democrats for this year's conventions.
"The city of Philadelphia's bid was $50 million" to host the convention, says the consultant, which covers everything from security and transportation to parties and promotion.
All told, the Republicans will probably spend upwards of $75 million this year, and if past nominating fests are any indication the bills (the Federal Election Commission audits every dollar) will pour in until 2004, when another convention will be unfolding.
The final bill for the 1996 GOP convention in San Diego was settled this spring.

Raul in 2008

"This is the first year in a long time that I haven't been a speaker at a [Republican] convention," notes former congressman and Cabinet secretary Jack Kemp, "and to think it is an intern of mine that's invited to speak instead."
Referring to Raul Fernandez, 33, founder and CEO of Proxicom Inc., the Reston, Va.-based Internet giant, with offices and subsidiaries across the U.S. and Europe, and coming soon to Asia.
Part owner of the Washington Capitals, Washington Wizards, Washington Mystics, MCI Center, USAirways Arena and TicketMaster, the youthful Mr. Fernandez served as legislative assistant to then-congressman Kemp of New York while a student at the University of Maryland from 1984 to 1988.
In return for the internship, Mr. Fernandez (who addressed the convention on fiscal issues last night) appointed Mr. Kemp to Proxicom's board of directors.

Run aground

"Our Chippendale has chipped," says William Codus, cruise chief of the U.S.S. Sequoia, the fully-restored 104-foot, 1925 yacht that served nine presidents.
Republican women lawmakers, including Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison and Rep. Mary Bono, were to be feted on the yacht in Philadelphia, but "the same mechanical problems [that] also forced the cancellation of the use of the Sequoia by President Bill Clinton and Sen. Ted Kennedy over the weekend" in far distant waters put a damper on the floating party.

Santorum snub

Republican pollster Frank Luntz, who wrote Newt Gingrich's "Contract With America," is in Philadelphia for his schtick, which means Democratic pollster Jennifer Laszlo can't be far away.
Sort of a balancing act, as the two are friends.
"With my yellow floor pass I … had a chance to ask Senator Rick Santorum of Pennsylvania [if he will support the Patient's Bill of Rights] and he simply turned and walked away from me," says Ms. Laszlo. "I took that as a sign that he plans to vote against the bill."
Her best conversation was with Florida Gov. Jeb Bush, "who many feel is the smarter, more articulate and successful of the two Bush brothers in politics.
"I always appreciate an elected official who will tell you to your face that he is not with you on an issue — as opposed to turning and running like Senator Santorum," she adds.
"Bottom line of the Republican convention? These guys want to win," she says, referring not just to George W. Bush and Dick Cheney.
"The halls are filled with well-healed lobbyists from the National Rifle Association, corporate polluters, oil companies and big tobacco who, drinks in hand, wander from skybox to skybox to network with political heavyweights … smiling from ear to ear. Bush is ahead in the polls and they are licking their chops for victory."

Pundit of sorts

One does double-takes when strolling across the political field of a convention, like when spotting recently retired professional football coach Dick Vermeil, winner earlier this year of his first-ever Super Bowl with the St. Louis Rams.
"I came to listen," says the former longtime Philadelphia Eagles coach, who lives on a Pennsylvania ranch not far from here.
But in his next breath, Mr. Vermeil couldn't help but change the subject.
"The Redskins are going to have a good team this year," he predicts, conceding however that team owner, Daniel Snyder, is paying dearly for it.

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