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Republicans Prepare for National Convention - 2004-08-25


Thousands of delegates, journalists and protesters will gather in New York City next week for the Republican National Convention where President Bush will be officially nominated to run for a second four-year term. The president and his re-election team are hoping for a boost from the four-day convention that will help carry him to victory in November.

President Bush's acceptance speech to the Republican National Convention next Thursday will be his best opportunity to date to explain to the American people why he deserves a second term in the White House.

It is the same case he has been making for months now as he campaigns at Bush-Cheney rallies across the country.

"I am asking for your vote because we have so much more to do to move this country forward," president Bush said. "We have got more to do to create jobs and improve schools, from fighting the terror to spreading the peace. We have made much progress and we will do more on behalf of the American people."

Like the Democratic convention last month in Boston, there will be little suspense during next week's Republican gathering.

Republicans are expected to emphasize the president's leadership in the war on terrorism and his tax cut plan during the New York convention.

Republican National Chairman Ed Gillespie also says his party wants to draw a distinction with Democrats by, "focusing on the future."

"We do want to say what we are going to do for the next four years," said Mr. Gillespie. "We do want to talk about the president's record. They did not want to talk about Senator Kerry's record in Boston. We are going to talk about President Bush's record in New York and we are going to talk about policies for the future."

Mr. Gillespie says the convention will focus on the general theme of building a safer world and a more hopeful America.

But the president's opponent, Democrat John Kerry, fired a preemptive rhetorical strike at the Republicans during a recent speech in New York City.

"The world will listen to what the Republicans say when they come here," said Mr. Kerry. "But words, slogans and personal attacks cannot disguise what they have done and left undone. You can't cover up reality with a few empty slogans. You can't lead America by misleading the American people."

At one time, the party conventions actually selected the presidential candidates. But in the late 1960s, presidential primary elections held by the states began to play a larger role in selecting party nominees for president.

So the role of the modern convention is quite different from what it was 50 or 60 years ago.

"So conventions no longer nominate candidates," explains Allan Lichtman, a presidential historian at the American University in Washington. "Instead, today conventions set party rules, they write the party platform, and most critically today, conventions give a big boost to a campaign. They launch the campaign and if it works well, they give the candidate a big bounce upward in the polls."

Democratic presidential candidate John Kerry received only a small boost in the polls following his convention last month. Most political experts say it is not clear whether the president will be able to do any better, because so many voters have apparently already made up their minds about this year's election.

Thousands of demonstrators are expected to converge on New York City during the convention protesting against the war in Iraq and a range of other administration policies. New York security officials insist the demonstrators will not disrupt the convention but will be allowed to express themselves.

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