- The Washington Times - Friday, January 31, 2003

Vice President Richard B. Cheney yesterday delivered a two-part message to political activists who are important to President Bush's re-election effort next year.
"Under the leadership of the president, this government will work to build greater prosperity across the land, and we will answer every danger and every enemy that threatens the American people," Mr. Cheney told a standing-room-only audience at the 30th annual Conservative Political Action Conference at the Crystal City Gateway Marriott.
Across the Potomac River at the Mayflower Hotel in the District, Republican National Committee Deputy Chairman Jack Oliver presided over a "here's how to win in 2004" strategy session at the annual winter meeting of the 165-member RNC.
Mr. Oliver, RNC political director Blaise Hazelwood, survey director Matthew Dowd and Georgia Republican Committee Chairman Ralph Reed all of whom attained heroic stature among committee members after the November elections explained how their party's "72-hour task force" project trained and used more than 15,000 grass-roots activists and 130,000 volunteers to turn out voters last November.
Mr. Oliver, once the chief Missouri campaign fund-raiser for Attorney General John Ashcroft, said that by learning to do well what only the Democrats once excelled at using person-to-person campaigning by doorbell-ringing, phone call-making volunteers to reach targeted voters more than twice in the 72 hours before Election Day Republicans improved their turnout by more than 3 percentage points. That was enough to win in many tight races last November.
Mr. Oliver said one measure of success was that Republican congressional candidates won 39 percent of the Hispanic vote last November, a net gain of 8 percentage points over the 2000 elections. "With your help, we will take the lessons we learned from the 72-hour task force and apply them to winning in 2004," he told the RNC members.
What the gatherings on both sides of the river had in common, besides a desire to see Mr. Bush and Mr. Cheney re-elected, was a belief that Mr. Bush had made his case against Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein on Tuesday.
Some conservatives, including some who played major roles in the Reagan administration, expressed private reservations about the White House rationale for using war to effect regime change in Iraq. But in interviews before and after Mr. Cheney's speech, most members of the CPAC audience said they were ready for war with Iraq.
Most of them also wanted to hear Mr. Cheney repeat the economic proposals that Mr. Bush made in his State of the Union speech Tuesday. The vice president did not, for the most part, disappoint them.
"This year we will honor a binding commitment to older Americans, working together to improve Medicare, and give all seniors the choice of a health plan that includes prescription drugs," Mr. Cheney said.
Mr. Cheney, a favorite of conservatives since his days as a House member from Wyoming, received repeated standing ovations, as when he echoed Mr. Bush's call for tort reform.
"The lawsuit culture makes everyone pay more for health care, and it is causing many parts of America to lose fine doctors," he said.

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