Thursday, August 12, 2004

The Bush campaign, faced with criticism for loading the Republican National Convention schedule with prominent social liberal speakers, now says it will feature conservative broadcaster Michael Reagan on the opening night.

The speech by the adopted son of the late President Ronald Reagan is intended as the Republican answer to the other Reagan son, Ron, who addressed the Democratic National Convention in Boston last month.

“It will be a battle of the brothers,” said a Republican in New York, where the party convenes Aug. 30 to Sept. 2 in Madison Square Garden.

Mr. Reagan’s addition also is likely to be welcomed by those Republicans who have complained that much of the prime-time schedule at the convention will be devoted to speakers whose positions on issues such as abortion and homosexual rights are at odds with the party’s conservative majority.

Republican loyalists have been angered by Ron Reagan’s criticism of President Bush’s position on stem-cell research. In his eulogy at his father’s California funeral in June, the younger Reagan suggested that opposition to the use of human embryos in such research was impeding advances in the treatment of Alzheimer’s disease, a charge he repeated last month at the Democratic convention.

Michael Reagan has said on his radio show that his brother never shared the political views of and never voted for their father, who will be the subject of an extended tribute on the opening night of the New York convention.

The tribute — highlighting the late president’s contributions to the defeat of communism as well as his philosophy of personal freedom and limited government — will be part of a Monday opening night focused on national security themes, Republicans close to the convention planning said privately.

Arizona Republican Sen. John McCain will be the main speaker that night. A decorated war hero and former prisoner of war in Vietnam, he will stand in implied contrast to Democratic presidential nominee Sen. John Kerry.

Mr. McCain is admired by many independents and Democrats, but many conservative Republicans were angered by his sponsorship of the new campaign finance regulations enacted last year.

Two other prime-time speakers on Monday — New York Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg and former Mayor Rudolph W. Giuliani — dissent from the Republican Party’s pro-life platform. California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger — another pro-choice Republican — is scheduled for a prime-time appearance Tuesday.

Lynne Cheney, Vice President Dick Cheney and Georgia Sen. Zell Miller, a pro-Bush Democrat, will headline Wednesday’s schedule, and New York Gov. George E. Pataki — another pro-choice Republican — will lead the convention’s closing night Thursday, when Mr. Bush will formally accept his party’s re-nomination.

The non-prime-time list of speakers has several pro-life, anti-tax Republican political stars, including Senator Majority Leader Bill Frist, Pennsylvania Sen. Rick Santorum, Kansas Sen. Sam Brownback, House Speaker J. Dennis Hastert and Maryland Lt. Gov. Michael S. Steele.

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