Bush arrives for Great Republican Revival Show

Presidential candidate arrives in City of Brotherly Love for his official anointing while his deputy celebrates a display of unity
Click to follow
The Independent US

George W Bush swept into Philadelphia yesterday to a hero's welcome and plunged immediately into a hectic programme of public events which will culminate in him being crowned tonight with the Republican Party's nomination for the White House.

George W Bush swept into Philadelphia yesterday to a hero's welcome and plunged immediately into a hectic programme of public events which will culminate in him being crowned tonight with the Republican Party's nomination for the White House.

As the Democrats stepped up their attacks from the sidelines, Mr Bush refused to be drawn; his campaign, he told a crowd of dignitaries and supporters at the airport, would be "positive, hopeful and optimistic".

The climax of yesterday'sconvention proceedings was to be the late-evening acceptance speech of his running mate, the former defence secretary, Dick Cheney. But the rest of the day belonged to Mr Bush, who celebrated his arrival in the first US capital by ringing a replica of the Liberty Bell three times and warmly greeting not only Pennsylvania's Republican officials, but Philadelphia's black Democrat mayor.

Mr Bush and his wife, Laura, then rushed to a rally with Hispanic voters on the steps of the Philadelphia Gallery of Art - familiar to film-goers from the Rocky films. They were joined not just by their photogenic and bilingual nephew, George P Bush, who is fronting the youth programme of the campaign, but by Senator John McCain and his wife, Cindy - the first time Mr Bush had been joined on the trail by his former rival for the nomination.

The previous evening, Mr McCain sealed his formal reconciliation with Mr Bush, lauding the man whose tactics he had once deplored as the man to vote for "if you believe America deserves leaders with a purpose more ennobling than expediency and opportunism". "I support him. I am grateful to him. And I am proud of him," he said.

Conspicuously absent from Mr McCain's speech, however, was any reference to the chief theme of his barn-storming primary campaign - the need to reduce the role of big money in the US political system - and any real personal warmth. It was also worded in such a way as not to exclude a future presidential bid by Mr McCain and to keep his straight talking appeal to younger and disillusioned voters intact.

And it tailed off into a distinctly double-edged conclusion: "I have such faith in you, my fellow Americans. And I am haunted by the vision of what will be."

In a stopover replete with symbolism, Mr and Mrs Bushhad spent the previous night at the Eisenhower residence near the Civil War town of Gettysburg, from where Mr Bush beamed his nightly message to the convention delegates. In choosing this as the final stop of his "key" states tour, he was not only claiming the mantle of the late president and general, Dwight Eisenhower, on an evening devoted in part to defence and foreign policy themes, but also the theme of national reconciliation that the battleground memorial represents.

Before Mr Bush's beamed message, a succession of speakers, including the Gulf War commander "Stormin" Norman Schwarzkopf, the war hero and former presidential candidate Bob Dole, and Mr Bush's foreign policy adviser, Condoleezza Rice, had testified to Mr Bush's vision and competence in defence and foreign affairs in an effort to allay fears about his inexperience in these areas. "A man of uncommonly good judgement", was how Ms Rice described him.

With the arrival of Mr Bush, overt security in Philadelphia was stepped up. The more visible police presence was also a response to the eruption of minor violence the previous day, when several hundred anti-death penalty protesters brought a part of the city centre to a halt during the evening rush hour. Nearly 300 people were arrested and five police officers injured, one seriously.

* The former US president, Gerald Ford, 87, who was one of three former presidents celebrated at the convention on Tuesday night, was taken to a Philadelphia hospital yesterday after suffering what doctors said was a mild stroke.

Comments