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Published: Thursday, 8/3/2000

Cheney promises return to decency

BY JACK TORRY
BLADE NATIONAL BUREAU

PHILADELPHIA - Republicans last night nominated Texas Gov. George W. Bush for president and Richard Cheney for vice president. Mr. Cheney immediately started into attack mode, repeatedly insisting it is time for the Clinton-Gore administration to go.

On the first day of a Bush administration, Mr. Cheney said to thunderous applause at the First Union Center sporting complex here, a President Bush will "restore decency and integrity to the Oval Office."

In a speech clearly designed to fire up GOP delegates, Mr. Cheney was the toughest act yet on President Clinton and Vice President Gore at the Republican National Convention. Mr. Cheney said he was "dismayed by the opportunities lost, saddened by what might have been but never was."

In one of the biggest applause lines at the convention so far, Mr. Cheney promised delegates that "help is on the way" for a military that has had "so much demanded" of and "so little given to them in return. George W. Bush and I are going to change that too."

Mr. Cheney said to loud applause that "these have been years of prosperity in our land but little purpose in the White House. Bill Clinton vowed not long ago to hold onto power until the last hour of the last day. That is his right. But, my friends, that last hour is coming," as thousands of delegates erupted in applause and cheers.

In a stunningly pointed reference to Mr. Clinton and his home town in Arkansas, Mr. Cheney said, "As the man from Hope goes home to New York, Mr. Gore tries to separate himself from his leader's shadow, but somehow we will never see one without thinking of the other."

Signaling a concerted attack on Mr. Clinton and Mr. Gore, Mr. Cheney intoned, "They came in together. Now let us see them off together."

Mr. Cheney said in a pump-them-up speech that Mr. Bush will defeat Al Gore "and I will replace him."

Borrowing a line that Mr. Gore used in 1992 in Mr. Clinton's successful campaign against Bush's father, President George Bush, Mr. Cheney said, "The wheel has turned, and it is time. It is time for them to go."

Mr. Cheney returned to the national stage he occupied in 1991 when as defense secretary he directed U.S. military forces to a swift victory over Iraq. Mr. Cheney offered an echo of the past. He told delegates he sees in Mr. Bush "the qualities of mind and spirit our nation needs and our history demands."

Invoking patriotism, Mr. Cheney said, "This is a great country, ladies and gentlemen, and it deserves great leadership." Once again, he insisted, it is time for "restoring decency and honor to our republic."

The convention session ended with country singer Lee Greenwood bringing the delegates to their swaying feet with "God Bless the USA," which he sang 12 years ago when former President Bush, the current GOP candidate's father, was nominated for president in New Orleans.

Mr. Cheney used his speech to remind Americans of his own extensive resume in government: White House chief of staff to President Gerald Ford in 1976, the No. 2 post in the House Republican leadership in the 1980s, and President Bush's defense secretary.

With so many goalposts pointing back to the Bush administration, Mr. Cheney's acceptance speech took place 10 years ago to the day when Iraqi President Saddam Hussein invaded Kuwait and started the Persian Gulf War.

Delegate reaction to Mr. Cheney's speech was universally positive.

Matthew Morales, 21, of Arizona, said Mr. Cheney's performance was "absolutely fantastic." Mr. Morales approvingly said Mr. Cheney is "cool-headed every time he steps up to the plate.

"He brings everything to the ticket that George W. is lacking - foreign affairs, statesmanship. He is the completion of the ticket."

A New York delegate, Debby Mayer, said of Mr. Cheney that "he seems to engender a sense of command which I admire."

Those in the Texas delegation were particularly enthusiastic. Many of the Texas delegates, wearing cowboy hats, stood on their chairs yelling in approval as Mr. Cheney initiated one attack after another against Mr. Clinton and Mr. Gore. They and the other delegates interrupted Mr. Cheney to pick up the refrain, "It's time for them to go."

Michael Buczek, a 19-year-old volunteer from Bensalem, Pa., said, "I'd say he's the best choice. I'm just impressed to be 20 feet away from him. This is awesome."

With his nomination official last night, Mr. Bush hopes to become the first son of a president to win the presidency since John Quincy Adams in 1824.

Professional wrestling star "The Rock" introduced House Speaker Dennis Hastert, a former high school wrestling coach, who called the roll of the states.

Jenny Backus, a spokeswoman for the Democratic National Committee said, "Republicans are engaged in the grand masquerade ball.

"The problem is that like Cinderella, the convention's magic after Thursday turns into a pumpkin."

Rachel Smolkin of The Blade's na tional bureau contributed to this report.



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