- The Washington Times - Monday, July 31, 2000

Ghosts of Mississippi
The brother of slain civil rights activist Medgar Evers says the Democrats are "just too liberal" and "have taken blacks for granted."
"And I don't like being taken for granted," Charles Evers said.
"[That's why] I've been a Republican since [President Richard] Nixon," Mr. Evers told The Washington Times yesterday. "I believe in the two-party system."
Mr. Evers, a supervisor of Jefferson County, Miss., who dabbles in real estate and radio, is a delegate at the Republican National Convention in Philadelphia.
He said he believes in the death penalty, lower taxes and many of the other tenets of the GOP, adding that the Democrats have become increasingly liberal for mainstream America.
Mr. Evers, 77, said Texas Gov. George W. Bush will do very well in November. "Oh, yes. We're going to do everything we can to get him elected president," Mr. Evers said, adding that he especially likes Mr. Bush's education policies. "He has my support 100 percent."
Mr. Evers' brother Medgar, an NAACP organizer, was assassinated in Mississippi in 1963. Byron de la Beckwith was convicted of that murder in 1994.

Thurmond concerns
The absence of 97-year-old U.S. Sen. Strom Thurmond of South Carolina at the convention is renewing concerns about his health among Republicans who want him to serve out his term.
Mr. Thurmond, the nation's oldest and longest-serving senator, is missing his first convention since 1932 for a reason other than work, war or a party switch. Doctors advised Mr. Thurmond not to travel because of a sore leg. It is the latest in a series of ailments for Mr. Thurmond, who has skipped several events in South Carolina that he attends annually.
Neither Republicans nor Democrats like to talk about Mr. Thurmond's health forcing an open seat. After all, the man is revered in South Carolina for, among others things, his longevity.
Mr. Thurmond has said he won't seek re-election. He is scheduled to leave office in 2003 at the age of 100.
"I hope and pray he is able to serve out his full term," said Mike Dixon of Spartanburg.
Mr. Thurmond's health is especially worrisome to Republicans, in part, because the Democrats need only five seats to gain the majority.

You laughin' at me?
TV tough guy Robert Conrad had people in stitches — figuratively — at a diversity event today.
The former "Wild Wild West" star regaled guests at the "One American Dream, Many American Dreamers" talk fest with stories about life on and off the set.
Also supplying laughs was TV host Ben Stein, who opened his one-minute monologue with his famous line from the film "Ferris Beuller's Day Off." (In case you've forgotten, it's, "Beuller? Beuller?," delivered with a perfect deadpan expression and intonation.)


Turning heads
New York Post gossip columnist Cindy Adams probably wasn't trying to call attention to herself as she breezed around convention spaces today searching for tales to tell.
But when you're Cindy Adams, people are just going to notice — which they did. The attentiton didn't seem to bother Miss Adams, who went about her business as only she can.


You look familiar
Is that George W. Bush? Nah, it's Richard Bennett, the chairman of Maryland's Republican Party.
Mr. Bennett's thick, dark eyebrows, chiseled face and dark hair bear a resemblance to the Texas governor and presumptive GOP candidate. The party's national convention was barely underway and Bennett had been mistaken six times for Mr. Bush.
"It's getting to be a problem," he said.
On the train up from Baltimore, a woman spotted Mr. Bennett and did a double-take. "I know you're not George Bush because he wouldn't carry his own luggage," she told him.
A bartender served him his drink and had to ask just to be sure.
Mr. Bennett, 52, was appointed U.S. Attorney for Maryland by President George Bush and is currently in private practice. He ran for lieutenant governor two years ago.


Just like home
Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee is avoiding the crowded majority of his fellow convention delegates must cope with this week.
He's got his own wheels — the gubernatorial sports utility vehicle he travels in back home.
The vehicle was driven here from Little Rock before Mr. Huckabee traveled by jetliner. Also in town are four members of the governor's state police security detail — one for every member of the Huckabee family here.
The governor and first lady Janet Huckabee are delegates, and son John Mark is an alternate. Teen-age daughter Sarah also made the trip, and was to return to the convention toay after a weekend trip to New York to visit friends.
Mr. Huckabee's security entourage includes a Pennsylvania state trooper. Every visiting governor has one.


Posh arrival
No stuffy, overcrowded shuttle bus for a small group of visiting Arkansans when they arrived in town.
State Sen. Doyle Webb got the royal treatment when he arrived for the convention — a trip to his hotel in a white and gold-trimmed stretch limousine.
Mr. Webb's wife, Barbara, the Saline County prosecutor; Benton homemaker Sarah Ollar; and a reporter also went along for the ride.
Their luxury travel was mere coincidence. The quartet could not squeeze into a convention shuttle bus but had the good fortune of hitching a ride in the limo for the same $12-a-head price.
No one in the group was a delegate; all were visitors accompanying the state GOP delegation.


Auspicious start
Convention organizers promised it would be the most cutting-edge gathering of its kind.
Evidently, there are still a few kinks in the system.
As delegates wrapped up their first session this afternoon, the convention's official Web site said: "Once the convention begins this will be the place for up-to-the minute updates on what's happening."
And the home page welcomed visitors like this: "With just days remaining before the curtain rises and gavel falls to open the 2000 GOP Convention, participants are closing in on Philadelphia."
Convention spokesman Tim Fitzpatrick wasn't sure what to say at first but then offered: "You never know. We may close with a curtain rising. That's my official response."


Where's Lazio?
When the New York Republican delegation takes the floor at the national convention this week, the Republican running in the state's most important race will be nowhere to be seen.
Despite all of the networking, fund-raising and moral support national Republican figures can muster at these national conventions, Rep. Rick Lazio decided to skip most of the convention to stay in New York and continue his Senate campaign against Hillary Rodham Clinton.
He'll make a cameo appearance with New York delegates tomorrow, speaking at their breakfast and then raising some money at a private event in the Veterans Stadium Clubhouse restaurant.
He plans to leave the same day.


Republican brew
Dick Yuengling has probably the best-known name among Pennsylvania's delegates to the convention, and this is his first convention.
It must be the beer talking.
He owns the Yuengling Brewery, the 171-year-old, Pennslyvania-based company that bills itself as America's oldest brewery.
The popularity of the Yuengling brews — Traditional Lager, Original Black & Tan, Yuengling Premium, Premium Light, Lord Chesterfield Ale, and Dark-Brewed Porter — has soared in recent years in Pennsylvania and five other states where it is sold.
"Outstanding," was the instant appraisal from John O'Connell, a political consultant, as he sipped from a bottle of Yuengling lager Sunday night in the bar at the Doubletree Hotel, where the Pennsylvania delegation is staying.
Yuengling — an Americanized spelling of the family's German name that Pennsylvanians pronounce as "ying-ling" — annually produces 800,000 barrels, or 10.6 million cases, at the original brewery in Pottsville and one in Tampa, Fla., that it purchased from Stroh's brewery last year. It employs 110 persons.


Once more, with feeling
A dozen years ago, the chairman of the Alaska delegation rose from the floor of the Republican National Convention to cast his state's nominating votes for George Bush.
Jerry Provo will reprise his performance at this week's coronation of Texas Gov. George W. Bush as the GOP's presidential standard-bearer.
"In 1988, I nominated the father, so there's a little nostalgia here for me to do that for the son," Mr. Provo said today as he sat on the floor of the cavernous First United Center, in the Alaska delegation's assigned spot at right corner, a stone's throw from center stage.
The two Texas politicians are not carbon copies, said the Baptist minister and leader of the Christian Coalition in Alaska. From his group's standpoint, the son is less encumbered politically than the elder Bush.
"George W. is his own man. He's proved that by running in the second largest state in the union," Mr. Provo said. "He probably doesn't have some of the more moderate to liberal connections that even his dad had that they may have been concerned about."
For example, he said, the group had concerns about the elder Bush's ties to the One World movement that it doesn't have about the son.
Alaska has 23 delegates and as many alternates at the convention, and three electoral votes.


Newt spotted
Former House Speaker Newt Gingrich got a taste of the protests today.
A horde of reporters and protesters marching on Broad Street toward the convention site spotted Mr. Gingrich with several other people and ran after him.
Reporters shouted questions and a few hecklers hurled insults, such as "Newt for president" and "You're the best thing to ever happen to Democrats."
Mr. Gingrich declined to answer questions about the protesters, and just noodded his head and smiled. The crowd grew so large that Mr. Gingrich could not move; eventually some city police officers had to escort him into a fenced courtyard.
Mr. Gingrich and other Republicans were visiting the Universal Center for Employment Training, a public-private partnership aiming to "revitalize the community that's been devastated here in South Philadelphia," said center staffer Kenneth Gamble.
Mr. Gingrich, who is attending the convention as a political analyst for Fox News, said he was there to support the center and a nearby charter school.


Where's Keyes?
People around the convention center today are asking: Where's Alan Keyes?
The former U.N. ambassador dropped out of the presidential race a while back and apparently hasn't been heard from again. Still, his fiery eloquence is missed.


Train of memories
Vice-presidential candidate Dick Cheney isn't known for emotional displays, but he grew a nostalgic this morning at a breakfast meeting in an old converted Union Pacific rail car behind the First Union Center.
He recalled that his grandfather was a cook for Union Pacific, living in a rail car and traveling across the West with track repair crews. He said he recalls vividly his annual vacations to see his itinerant grandparents.
"If you're a kid 7 or 8 years old, there's nothing more romantic than living in a railroad car," he said with a laugh.
Mr. Cheney eventually reestablished the family connection with the historic railroad: He went on to serve on the board of directors for Union Pacific after his term as defense secretary ended.


Puzzled
There seems to be an ongoing sense of wonder among Republicans that Mr. Cheney is the party's vice-presidential nominee.
"I was somewhat surprised" by the choice, former Secretary of State George Schultz said today. "He had said he wasn't interested. But I felt all along he would be a very good president, and therefore a good vice president."


Taking aim
Texas Lt. Gov. Rick Perry fired up his state's delegates today with jabs at Vice President Al Gore, despite a Republican Party plan to avoid Democrat bashing during the convention.
Mr. Perry, the leader of the Texas delegation who put Texas Gov. George W. Bush's name into nomination at the convention, urged Texans to leave this week's gathering determined to dispel myths that might be circulated about the state.
"Al Gore is going to be a tough opponent," Mr. Perry said. "They're going to do everything they can in this world not only to demean George Bush and what George Bush is all about and what he believes in, but unfortunately they're going to demean our beloved Texas."
In particular, Mr. Perry said, Mr. Gore, the Democratic presidential contender, has unfairly criticized Mr. Bush's environmental record in Texas.
"My gosh, to listen to Mr. Gore talk about Texas and the bad water and the foul air and this cruddy environment, you'd think Texas is one of his rental properties," Mr. Perry said, to hoots, hollers and applause from the crowd.
Mr. Perry was referring to reports about bad conditions at a rental house of Mr. Gore's in Tennessee.


The lawman
Oklahoma Gov. Frank Keating, passed over to be the Republican vice presidential nominee, today said he would consider being attorney general in a George W. Bush administration.
"Any other position I would be less interested in," Mr. Keating said at a news conference before the start of the convention.
Mr. Keating — a former FBI agent, federal prosecutor and associate attorney general — was among the first of Mr. Bush's potential running mates to receive an exploratory questionnaire from his campaign.
He took two weeks to answer questions about his family background, public policy views, past employment and personal tax information.
"I think we would have been more disappointed if we had been bumped by some lesser light than Dick Cheney," Mr. Keating said.
Mr. Keating said he never considered himself a serious contender. He said he was an early supporter of Michigan Gov. John Engler and later Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Ridge for vice president.


Soul contender
Rep. J.C. Watts of Oklahoma might think twice about keeping his day job.
During a reception last night at the Philadelphia Convention Center, the legendary Motown quintet the Temptations called Mr. Watts onto the stage to sing a verse of their hit "My Girl."
The former football star and current chairman of the House Republican Conference at first said he wanted to try the Temptations dance steps. But then he belted out a very convincing rendition, surprising many in the crowd of more than 300 guests.
What's more, Mr. Watts sang after actor Richard Roundtree — the original "Shaft" — showed off his soulful tenor with the Temptations, who improvised a bit of the "Shaft" theme to bring Mr. Roundtree on stage.


Romulans revenge
Illinois Attorney General Jim Ryan will know better next time not to ship a box of clocks to state Republican delegates at the national convention.
An alert hotel employee at the Adam's Mark Hotel, where the boxes of clocks arrived before the delegates, heard a lot of ticking and alerted police yesterday. The hotel's guests were evacuated, including visiting "Star Trek" fans clad head to toe in costume.
Within an hour, the bomb squad declared the hotel — not the galaxy — bomb free.


The last word
"The last Democratic convention I went to was in 1992 up in New York. That year, I didn't vote for the platform because I didn't like it." — Rep. Virgil Goode of Virginia, who bolted the Democratic Party in January and declared himself an independent but is endorsed by the GOP for his re-election campaign.

From staff and wire service dispatches.

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