- The Washington Times - Wednesday, September 1, 2004

NEW YORK — Filmmaker Michael Moore said he will return to the Republican National Convention, where delegates roundly booed his presence on opening night. Mr. Moore is covering the convention this week as an opinion columnist for USA Today and arrived at Madison Square Garden in time for Arizona Republican Sen. John McCain’s prime-time speech on Monday night.

When Mr. McCain alluded to Mr. Moore’s anti-Bush documentary “Fahrenheit 9/11,” delegates began chanting and booing in the direction of the filmmaker, who was in the media section of the convention hall.

“I now know what the Christians probably felt like walking into the Coliseum,” he said. Mr. Moore, who seemed to relish the tumult, said he would return despite the chilly reception “because I’m here to cover the convention and I’m here to write about what I see.”

Mr. Moore’s presence attracted attention from the start.

“I knew he’d be a celebrity, but I was surprised by the extent of both the media coverage and the security reaction,” said Owen Ullmann, USA Today editor. “It created more of a disruption than was intended.”

Mr. Ullmann initially said that the director would not be returning to Madison Square Garden. But he later said, in the end, the columnist has “to speak for himself.”

Minister denounces convention crosses

NEW YORK — Conventions are as much about symbolism as speeches, but a minister at a liberal Manhattan church charged yesterday that the Republicans have gone too far by placing crosses on the convention stage.

Republican officials say his eyes are playing tricks on him, but the Rev. James Forbes Jr. said images of Christian crosses are clear on the convention lectern and on a structure right next to it.

“I believe it is an image of two crosses. This is an unusual and inappropriate use of religious symbols in a political campaign,” Mr. Forbes said.

Former President Bill Clinton spoke at Mr. Forbes’ Riverside Church a day before the convention began, charging that Republicans are trying to demonize Democrats as a party without faith-based moral values.

Convention spokesman Mark Pfeifle discounted the idea. “This sounds like a Rorschach test. … Interesting, we’ll check it out,” Mr. Pfeifle said.

Democratic mayorstumps for Bush

NEW YORK — Move over, Sen. Zell Miller: It’s time to make room for George.

George McKelvey, that is, the Democratic mayor of Youngstown, Ohio, who’s here talking up the re-election bid of President Bush and sounding every bit like Mr. Miller — who sounds like a Republican.

Mr. Miller has so wowed the Republican Party that the retiring Georgia senator was invited to be the keynote speaker at this week’s Republican National Convention. But Mr. McKelvey won’t be far behind, telling the cheering Ohio delegation at a breakfast yesterday that “the left wing hates George Bush the most because he believes in God, and you better believe that.”

Mr. McKelvey has been making the rounds on national talk shows for the Bush campaign and said he plans to join the president on the campaign trail in Ohio.

Arnold makes nod to Nixon

Many speakers at the Republican National Convention offered tributes to Ronald Reagan, but California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger said last night his political inspiration came from another, much less lauded former president — Richard Nixon.

The Austrian-born governor recalled coming to America in 1968 when Mr. Nixon ran against Democrat Hubert Humphrey.

“I remember watching the Nixon and Humphrey presidential race on TV. A friend who spoke German and English, translated for me. I heard Humphrey saying things that sounded like socialism, which is what I had just left,” Mr. Schwarzenegger said. “But then I heard Nixon speak. He was talking about free enterprise, getting government off your back, lowering taxes, and strengthening the military. …

“I said to my friend, ‘What party is he?’ My friend said, ‘He’s a Republican.’ I said, ‘Then I am a Republican.’ And I’ve been a Republican ever since.”

Then, in a reference to his wife, Maria Shriver, a niece of the Kennedy family, Mr. Schwarzenegger added: “And trust me, in my wife’s family, that’s no small achievement.”

Schlafly touts victory on pro-life platform

NEW YORK — Conservative activist Phyllis Schlafly has helped win yet another Republican platform opposed to abortion, but the party’s internal debate over the issue hasn’t ended.

The 80-year-old activist, author and Missouri delegate has been to every Republican convention since 1952, including 11 times as a delegate or alternate. Her mission is to produce a socially conservative platform.

“We had a total victory,” Mrs. Schlafly, of suburban St. Louis, declared after Republicans adopted a 2004 platform again opposed to abortion.

Today, Mrs. Schlafly intends to celebrate — and honor eight “pro-life” legislators — during her “The Life of the Party” party. The $125-a-ticket event at an upscale dining spot near Central Park is expected to draw 550 persons, which Mrs. Schlafly said would demonstrate that conservative strength is undiminished.

A rival “Big Tent Celebration,” hosted last night by the Republican Majority for Choice, also was expected to draw 550 persons while honoring 40 “pro-choice” lawmakers, said Jennifer Blei Stockman, co-chairwoman of the Republican abortion-rights group.

Miss Stockman dismissed Mrs. Schlafly’s platform victories as purely symbolic.

“Our party is far more pragmatic than what Phyllis Schlafly and her like-minded people would like to believe,” Miss Stockman said.

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