Republicans announced the key speakers for their nominating convention in New York City yesterday, which will feature three moderate New Yorkers and California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger in addition to the president, vice president, their wives and two senators.
In addition to Mr. Schwarzenegger, New York City Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg, former Mayor Rudolph W. Giuliani and New York Gov. George E. Pataki, all of whom are liberal on social issues, will speak at the convention Aug. 30 through Sept. 2, along with President Bush, Vice President Dick Cheney, their wives and a few other officials.
Bill Harris, who is head of the convention planning, said the lineup will show “the energy and momentum behind our party.”
But conservatives said the lineup is short on those who would appeal to the social and fiscal conservatives that show up for conventions.
“I don’t know what the Bush-Cheney ticket is thinking,” said New York State Conservative Party Chairman Michael Long. “They’re in New York, and so the governor really deserves to have a spot. And clearly Rudy should have one, too, because he has become America’s mayor since September 11.”
“But if you are going to have a big tent, then you should make sure everyone who represents every part of the tent gets a speaking slot,” he said.
Three other speakers — Sen. John McCain, Arizona Republican and one of those who challenged Mr. Bush for the Republican nomination in 2000; Secretary of Education Rod Paige; and Sen. Zell Miller, Georgia Democrat — were also announced.
Some Republicans said Mr. Bush is taking a risk by moving to the center.
Former Texas Republican Party Chairman Tom Pauken said the Bush strategists feel “they have the conservative vote locked up, but worry they are losing support among independents and moderates over both the war in Iraq, which also deeply divided conservatives, and Bush’s no longer coming across as a positive unifier. So [Bush strategists] feel they have to move to the middle.”
“The president runs a risk of taking the Goldwater-Reagan conservatives for granted, just like his father did in 1992,” Mr. Pauken said.
Club for Growth President Stephen Moore called the convention lineup “amazing,” because “other than Schwarzenegger, who is a phenomenon and awfully fiscally conservative, there is not anyone who will appeal to the conservative grass-roots voters who tend to populate the convention.”
Other Republicans, though, said the lineup is a balancing act.
Sarah Chamberlain Resnick, executive director of the Republican Main Street Partnership, a group of centrist Republicans, said the choice of speakers shows how critical moderates are to Republican efforts.
Grover Norquist, president of Americans for Tax Reform, said the choice of Mr. McCain “is reaching out to knit the Republican Party back together. People know the personal rift between Bush and McCain, who shifted to favoring gun control and campaign finance and opposing tax cuts after the bitter 2000 primary fight with Bush…. He was kicking Bush under the table.”
“The GOP is a big-tent party that has room for both centrists and conservatives, and the lineup of speakers for the 2004 convention reflects this,” he said.
Democrats haven’t released their complete list of speakers, but former President Bill Clinton, former Vice President Al Gore and Sen. Edward M. Kennedy, Massachusetts Democrat, will have key slots at the convention, which is in Boston in late July.
The Associated Press reported that Mr. Clinton will speak July 26 and Mr. Kennedy is scheduled for the next night. The party’s vice presidential nominee will speak July 28, and presumed nominee Sen. John Kerry of Massachusetts will speak July 29.