- The Washington Times - Friday, September 22, 2000

CLEVELAND Texas Gov. George W. Bush spent his second day this week appealing to female voters through a powerful medium the daytime talk show.
Mr. Bush, the Republican nominee for president, appeared yesterday on "Live! with Regis," hosted by Regis Philbin, two days after appearing on Oprah Winfrey's show in Chicago. Both shows have a heavily female audience.
As he did with Miss Winfrey, Mr. Bush tried to soften his image, talking about his family and about his personal life. He also tried to project a more jovial image, joking with Mr. Philbin and his temporary co-host, Susan Hawk, one of the contestants on the successful CBS show "Survivor." Mr. Bush went so far as to copy Mr. Philbin's trademark outfit a dark suit with an equally dark shirt and matching tie.
"You old devil," Mr. Philbin said as Mr. Bush walked out on stage. "He gave Oprah a kiss, but he wore my shirt and tie."
The campaign is hoping that the TV appearances will show a more personal side of Mr. Bush, helping to halt his slide in the polls. They were clearly pleased by his appearance on Miss Winfrey's show earlier in the week, and Mr. Bush has appeared particularly relaxed and enthusiastic since that show aired.
A series of recent national polls show Mr. Bush's slide has slowed or reversed and he remains nearly tied with Democratic nominee Al Gore.
The campaign has made no secret of its strategy to appeal to female voters, who heavily favor Mr. Gore, according to polls. The campaign has given Mrs. Bush an increasingly high-profile role and Mr. Bush made a point of discussing her both yesterday and with Miss Winfrey.
Mr. Bush and Mr. Philbin talked briefly yesterday about the Bush family and showed pictures of Mr. Bush as a young man and with his wife, Laura.
"Your wife is quite attractive," Mr. Philbin said.
"I agree completely," Mr. Bush said. "She really is a fabulous woman, Laura, and obviously very patient."
He told Mr. Philbin that Mrs. Bush "has had a big effect on me she reminds me that I've got to watch what I say, watch what I eat, watch what I wear," drawing a laugh as he tugged on his dark suit.
Mr. Bush also said he enjoyed "Survivor."
"I was fascinated to see who would survive kind of like me," he said, drawing a laugh from the audience. "I feel like I'm going through 'Survivor.' "
Mrs. Hawk, who was the runner-up for the $1 million prize on "Survivor," was clearly enthusiastic about Mr. Bush, loudly endorsing his plans for tax cuts and privatizing part of Social Security. The audience, however, was less enthusiastic and was less receptive than Miss Winfrey's audience, who reacted warmly to Mr. Bush.
Mr. Bush even drew some jeers from the audience yesterday when Mr. Philbin asked if he thought "the best man always wins" in a presidential contest.
"I didn't think so in 1992," when his father, President George Bush, lost to Bill Clinton, Mr. Bush said, drawing what sounded like a hostile response from many in the audience.
Mr. Bush did discuss some policy specifics, particularly education. He said federal aid to local schools should be tied to clear evidence that schools are succeeding at teaching basics to children.
"But if we find schools that are not teaching children to read and write, add and subtract, we cannot sit idly by," he said. "So what I am going to say is that money that is going to the school district, that money needs to go to the parents so they can make a different choice."
Mr. Bush also touted a plan to privatize part of Social Security, a plan Democrats say is "risky." But Mr. Bush said the surplus gives him the opportunity to let younger workers put up to 2 percent of their Social Security taxes in private accounts without having to cut the benefits for current retirees.
"We've got the money to transition from the old way of Social Security, which says government program, government decides the benefits, to a new way that allows younger workers to manage some of their own money in safe and secure investments."
Mr. Bush campaigned later on the issue in Cleveland. He then went for a private fund-raiser in Nashville, Tenn., Mr. Gore's hometown. He campaigns today and tomorrow in Florida, talking about health care.

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