- The Washington Times - Friday, August 4, 2000

All of the diversity talk at the Republican National Convention is beginning to bother Vermont delegate Robert Orleck.
"If it's so diverse, where is Alan Keyes?" said Mr. Orleck, noting that the eloquent former ambassador — the only black candidate to compete in this year's Republican primaries — has been excluded from speaking.
Meanwhile, other minorities, including the only openly homosexual Republican in Congress, Rep. Jim Kolbe of Arizona, were invited to speak, Mr. Orleck said.
"But they excluded a man who garnered 1 million votes because he's a threat to them," he said.
Mr. Orleck appears to be in a minority in his own right. If other convention-goers are bothered by the diversity lovefest, they certainly aren't saying.
"The wings of the party are all flapping in the same direction," said Fred Schwartz of Virginia. "We are the party of Lincoln and the tent is bigger and more unified than in years."
Delegates are determined to project the image of a fully united party that can retake the White House from Democrats come November.
"We don't agree with everything, but no one can agree with everyone," said David B. Kent of Texas.
"And that's called diversity," added fellow Texan, Frank Cox.
"It's not about political correctness, but about plain old correctness — doing what is right. It's not about color, it's about character. It's the Democrats who keep focusing on color, it makes no difference to us," Mr. Cox said.
Cliff May, communications director for the Republican National Committee, said the party has never been as unified as it is during this week's convention.
"People are not here to quarrel over differences,"said Mr. May, as "Higher Love" by Steve Winwood played over a loudspeaker following Gov. George W. Bush's speech at a fundraising event yesterday.
Delegates say they are pleased with the party platform, the convention speakers and their messages of strong national defense and education.
"We have a plan for everyone in the country to become a Republican," said Pennsylvania House Majority Leader John M. Perzel.
"We are going to give them a good education and they will never vote Democrat again," Mr. Perzel said.
Linda Paust and Lona Yeakley of Indiana described their fellow delegates as "unified" and "enthusiastic" about the convention and party message.
"The faction fights are not there," Mrs. Yeakley said.
Sen. Fred Thompson, Tennessee Republican, acknowledged that the warm-and-fuzzy convention message is somewhat disappointing to him, howeverhe said the Republicans show of unity and inclusion is paying off.
"It's working, as evidenced by the frenetic activity on the part of the Democrats, on the part of the president, the vice president, and the first lady," Mr. Thompson said.
"The president sounds like a first-time congressional candidate, instead of the president of the United States. It's causing them fits," he said. "Let the Democrats continue the negativity. I think it's politically smart. I don't think you have to worry about driving up the other side's negatives. I think Gore's doing that for himself."
Mr. Thompson said Republicans inevitably will need to turn negative later in the campaign.
"There will clearly be a time when we have to answer back and it's going to get rough," he said. "Nowadays it's a whole lot better to counter-punch than to throw the first punch. There will be plenty of time for that."
Dave Boyer contributed to this report.

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