Tuesday, August 31, 2004

Liberal filmmaker Michael Moore made a splash during the Republican National Convention yesterday, first prompting a ruckus in the press corps and then becoming the target of one of the night’s biggest applause lines during the speech of Sen. John McCain.

In his speech, the Arizona Republican said the war to overthrow Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein was just and that the crowd should ignore critics, including “a disingenuous filmmaker.”

Before he could continue the sentence, Mr. McCain was drowned out by cheering delegates expressing their antipathy for Mr. Moore and his anti-Bush film “Fahrenheit 9/11.”

Mr. Moore, who has press credentials as a USA Today guest columnist, waved for the first few moments of the clamor and then held up two fingers and mouthed the words “two more months.”

Seeing Mr. Moore’s gesture on video monitors, the crowd taunted back: “four more years.”

Waiting for the uproar to die down, Mr. McCain smiled and said, “That was such a good line, I’m going to use it again,” and repeated the “disingenuous filmmaker” reference, much to the delight of the delegates.

Before Mr. McCain had finished his speech, Mr. Moore was escorted toward an elevator and out of the arena by several New York police officers. When reporters tried to follow, they were shoved back and barred from leaving.

The police were heard thanking Mr. Moore for his cooperation as they led him out.

Mr. Moore later said: “I can’t believe they’re dumb enough to bring up the film and help its box office.”

Earlier, Mr. Moore’s arrival in the press section right above the floor led to his being immediately swamped by reporters, photographers and camera crews upon taking his seat.

When asked whether he had trouble with security, he said, “New York City police have been very helpful.”

“It’s perfectly OK. I haven’t had any negative experiences,” he said.

Associated Press reporters nearby got angry because their work was being disturbed and asked Mr. Moore to end the commotion. He told them he would stop answering questions, and security pushed some of the reporters away.

• James G. Lakely contributed to this report.

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