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Convention Dispatches Live: Tuesday

Terry Neal
washingtonpost.com Chief Political Correspondent
Tuesday, August 31, 2004; 10:00 PM

The 2004 Republican National Convention continues amid tight security in New York with speeches from First Lady Laura Bush, Secretary of Education Rod Paige, Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger

washingtonpost.com Chief Political Correspondent Terry Neal took your questions live from the convention hall on the speeches, the atmosphere and the latest political news.

Terry Neal (post.com)

The transcript follows.

Editor's Note: Washingtonpost.com moderators retain editorial control over Live Online discussions and choose the most relevant questions for guests and hosts; guests and hosts can decline to answer questions.


Terry Neal: Good evening everyone. I hope you're enjoying your second night of the Republican National Convention. I'm sure every one is rapt by the escalating drama of this nominating convention. Well, anyway...I look forward to taking your questions tonight. So with that, let the games begin!



Arlington, Va.: Ed Shrock resigns during the GOP convention after being outed -- on the same day the party platform approves the anti-gay marriage Constitutional amendment plank. Any guesses why this is less newsworthy than the New Jersey governor's recent announcement? Given Rep. Shrock's support for the FAA and his very conservative voting record on social issues, his personal life might be sort of newsworthy here.

washingtonpost.com: Va. Legislator Ends Bid for 3rd Term (Post, Aug. 31)

Terry Neal: Well, it's more noteworthy because a governor is considered a higher-ranking official than a congressman. There are only 50 governors. There are 435 members of the House. The vast majority toil in anomymity. Most people in Virginia don't have any idea who Ed Shrock is. Everyone in NJ--and a good number of people outside of it--knows who McGreevey is.
Also, there's a difference in how the story came out. Shrock was outted. McGreevey shocked everyone by coming out on his own (even if the story was close to breaking anyway).


Miami, Fla.: Mr. Neal, thanks a lot for this wonderful chats, I was apalled to see during the oppening nigth of the convention, some delegates wearing purple heart band aids, I cannot believe how low some people go to denigrated someone that actually volunteer to go to war, knowing full well that in a war you could be killed on your very first day of arrival. What is your opinion?

Terry Neal: Thanks for your note. I wrote about this in my column today. I'll keep my opinion as to whether I think this is appropriate to myself. But please read my column for a little news analysis about the issue.


washingtonpost.com: Purple Hearts for the House (washingtonpost.com, Aug. 31)


Baltimore, Md.: Is the GOP that desperate for black vote that they have to get someone like Don King to speak at the conventions?

Terry Neal: Don King has been quite the man about town during the convention, but I don't believe he has any formal speaking role. I did get a good chuckle out of reading about RNC Chairman Ed Gillespie running around with King a few months ago. That might be the strangest pairing since Billy Bob and Angelina.


Washington, D.C.: Hello. I think your good!

Just one question -- has anybody asked why Sec. of State Colin Powell isn't there? Seems like a fair question. Due tell...?

Terry Neal: Powell has been asked. And with an assist from my Washington Post colleague/political genius, Mark Stencel, we (well, ok, he) come up with this answer.
This is what Powell has said about why he is sitting out the convention. "As secretary of state, I am obliged not to participate in any way, shape, fashion, or form in parochial, political debates. I have to take no sides in the matter," Powell said at the Unity: Journalists of Color Convention earlier this month.
The White House has said members of the national security team, by tradition sit out these events. "By tradition and custom, the national security adviser does not actively participate in campaign or political events," said Sean McCormick, a National Security Council spokesman, told The Post's Robin Wright.
But a story in Monday's New York Times cited examples that defy that tradition, including U.N. Ambassador Jeane J. Kirkpatrick, who even spoke at the 1984 convention. The story also said some Republicans here have suggested Powell just didn't want to come.
National Security Adviser Condoleezza Rice will accompany Bush here but also isn't speaking.


Philadelphia, Pa.: Terry,

I mean no offense to Arnold, but holding up Nixon as a paragon of Republican virtue seems odd to say the least. He had a wonderful message of inclusion, but it seemed to clash heavily with the GOP Platform.

Terry Neal: Actually, I think that was the whole point of his speech-- that Republicans can disagree on specific issues, but that there are some common themes that unite. I'm not sure he held up Nixon as a "paragon of virtue." But Nixon is still respected in some political circles for what he believed, although obviously not for the nefarious things he did.


Out West: Did you have an eye on Arnold just now? Now, at the end, Tom Brokaw commented that he has "great appeal to immigrants" -- do you think that's actually true? Not to take anything away from his hard work and determination, but his path in life is not really a typical immigrants path ...

Terry Neal: Well, certainly most immigrants don't end up as big time movies stars who make $20 million a picture and go on to win the governorship of the largest, most influential state in the union. But I think Schwarzenegger's point was that he did start out as most immigrants did in this country. His message was that in this America, anything is possible, for anyone who works hard enough.


Rio de Janeiro, Brazil: Why is the appearence of Arnold Schwarzenegger important in this convention? How, in your opinion, would he help Bush's re-election?

Terry Neal: Hello Rio. Thanks for your question. Schwarzenegger's appearance is important because he represents a different kind of Republican: a social liberal who also happens to be a fiscal and foreign policy conservative. His views on abortion, gay rights, affirmative action, government funding for stem cell research and other issues, puts him closer to the D side than the R side.
The GOP is trying to send the signal that this is a big tent party. That's important because there are still enough moderate, independent-minded undecided voters to tip a close election one way or another.


Montpelier, Vt.: Barack Obama's keynote I do not believe mentioned Bush even once and was widely noted for its vision and positive spirit.

Do you think that the press will highlight the stark contrast between that uplifting speech and the anticipated attack speech by Zell Miller?

That seems to this reader to be a story of sharp contrast of vision.

Terry Neal: I don't recall whether Obama used the president's name, but he certainly did refer to him and not in flattering ways. I specifically recall a comment about anti-intellectualism in the White House.
In any case, I have little doubt that Miller's speech will be very critical of Kerry. But hey, conventions are about drawing distinctions and enunciating differences.


Ketchum, Idaho: Can you imagine what American's would have thought in the summer of 1942 if they learned that the President had told a reporter that WWII was "unwinnable"?

Terry Neal: Yes, it was a rare, unscripted moment from the president where you got a sense of what he probably really believes. This is a very different kind of war. It has almost nothing in commone with WWII, other than that the people we're fighting are evil.
What the president seemed to be saying is that there will always be terrorism of some sort. I guess this all depends on what one's definition of "winning" the war on terrorism means. Does it mean that we put a stop to massive attacts like 9/11? Or does it mean that you forever put an end to all terrorist attacks. Period. Well if the latter is the definition of win, it's a little hard to believe that anyone thinks that will ever happen.
It is almost impossible, after all, to stop someone from strapping a bomb to him/herself and blowing a bunch of people up. When people are not only willing but eager to die for their cause, and when the people you are fighting are essentially criminals who respect or recognize no borderrs, and are willing to kill women and children and have no respect for the generally accepted rules of modern welfare, then it makes it all the more difficult to defeat it.


Terry Neal: Well folks, I've got to run. It's been a real pleasure chatting with you. I thought we had some real good questions tonight.
Let's chat again tomorrow night, same time, same place.



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